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We Bet You Didn't Know These Facts About the Cape of Good Hope

Facts About the Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope may have lost its importance with the Suez Canal coming into the picture, but then, there exist some interesting facts about it that highlight its relevance to mankind over the course of its history.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Did You Know?
The Cape of Good Hope is one of the three Great Capes of the South Atlantic Ocean; the other two being Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn.
What better way to start an article on the facts about something, but to dispel one of the most popular myths about it. So here we go: contrary to popular belief, the Cape of Good Hope is NOT the southernmost tip of the continent of Africa. That distinction goes to Cape Agulhas, which lies about 105 miles southeast of Cape Town. The widely circulated myth stemmed from that fact that the Cape of Good Hope marked the point from where ships began to move towards the east after heading south along the western coast of the continent.
A Brief History
Cape of Good Hope
Aerial View of the Cape of Good Hope
❒ The Cape of Good Hope was discovered by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias on March 12, 1488, when he set out on an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa, hoping to find a trade route to India. Since its discovery, it has served as one of the most recognizable traveling posts in the southern Atlantic.
❒ While Dias named the cape as Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms), the then king of Portugal, John II renamed it as Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good Hope), as the discovery of passage to India and the East brought with it 'hope' that it would boost trade.
❒ The Dutch were the first to set up a colony in this region, which they eventually ceded to the British as a part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. The Cape, along with the Cape Colony, continued to be a part of the British colony, until it was incorporated in independent South Africa in 1910.
Cape of Good Hope Facts
Cape Town Map
The Cape of Good Hope lies to the south of Cape Town.
❒ The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic Coast of the Cape Peninsula. It is located at a distance of around 30 miles from the port city of Cape Town.

❒ It is one of the three headlands of the Cape Point; the other two include the Cape Point itself and Cape Maclear.

❒ The area marks the convergence of the warm Mozambique-Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean and the cold Benguela current from the Antarctic Ocean.
Flying Dutchman Ghost Ship
The legend of a ghost ship known as the Flying Dutchman has become a part of the folklore.
❒ According to the legend of the Flying Dutchman, the Dutch ship commanded by Hendrick van der Decken, which drowned in the Cape, is still seen by ships passing through this area.

❒ Interestingly, the Flying Dutchman is the name given to the cable tram that takes people to the lighthouse about 1.2 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope.

❒ The Cape Point Nature Reserve is spread over an area of 7,750 hectares, which is home to several species of plants and animals.
Baboon at Cape Town
A chacma baboon at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
❒ The Cape of Good Hope in itself is rich in terms of biodiversity, supporting over 1,100 species of plants; most of which are endemic to this region.

❒ It is home to over 200 species of birds, including the jackass penguin and ostriches; Cape mountain zebras; antelopes, like elands and klipspringers; chacma baboons; plus several species of small mammals.
Cape of Good Hope signboard
The Cape of Good Hope may not be the southernmost tip of the continent, but it is the south-westernmost point of Africa

❒ Six of the eleven troops of chacma baboons found on the Cape Peninsula―the only protected population of this species―inhabit the Cape.

❒ The convergence of two ocean currents contributes to productive marine environment, ideal for a range of species including the humpback whales and dusky dolphins.
Before the Suez Canal came into existence in 1869, the ships traveling from Europe to Africa had to go around the continent of Africa―an additional journey of 4,300 miles. Back then, the Cape of Good Hope served as a navigational point for ships plying through this region, while Cape Town served as a refill point for necessary supplies, including tea and coal. Even today, many shipping companies prefer to go around the Cape of Good Hope instead of taking the shorter Suez Canal shipping route in order to avoid the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.