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From storm to hope

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BLUE: Sheer beauty. Photo: N. SRIDHARAN
BLUE: Sheer beauty. Photo: N. SRIDHARAN

G.V. JOSHI

Recognising the commercial importance of the Cape, John II, King of Portugal, called it the Cape of Good Hope.

The name Cape of Good Hope refers to the promontory about 48 km south of Cape Town in South Africa. It is often regarded as the extremity of the continent, but actually Cape Agulhas, to the southeast, is the southernmost point of Africa.The Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias, who reached the southern tip of Africa in 1488, named it the Cabo das Tormentoso (Cape of Storms).It was renamed "Cape of Good Hope" (Cabo da Boa Espercanca in Porthuguese) by John II, King of Portugal, because of the commercial importance of the new route to the east. The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, who made the first voyage from Europe to India in 1497, rounded the Cape first.

First settlement

The Dutch East India Company at Table Bay established the first European settlement in southern Africa in 1652, 48 km. north of the Cape. The settlement at Table Bay became Cape Town.Its purpose was to supply fresh food and water to Dutch trading ships rounding the southern tip of Africa on their voyages to and from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Great Britain seized the Cape settlement from the Dutch in 1795 in order to keep it out of the hands of Holland's ally, France. The British returned the Cape to the Dutch in 1803 but occupied it again in 1806. The Dutch permanently ceded the Cape settlement to Britain in 1814. They ruled the area as the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope.


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