Northern Cape



The vast and arid Northern Cape is the largest province in South Africa, taking up nearly a third of the country’s land area. It covers an area of 372 889 km² and has a population of just over one million people, the least populous of South Africa’s provinces. It is bordered by Namibia and Botswana to the north, and also by the North West, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the province’s western boundary.

The capital city is Kimberley. Other important towns are Upington, centre of the karakul sheep and dried-fruit industries, and the most northerly winemaking region of South Africa; Springbok, in the heart of the Namaqualand spring-flower country; Kuruman and De Aar, the second most important junction of South Africa’s railway network. Sutherland is host to the southern hemisphere’s largest astronomical observatory; the multinational sponsored Southern African Large Telescope (SALT).

The Northern Cape is rich in minerals. Alluvial diamonds are extracted from the beaches and the sea between Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth. The Sishen Mine near Kathu is the biggest source of iron ore in South Africa, while the copper mine at Okiep is one of the oldest mines in the country. Copper is also mined at Springbok and Aggeneys. The province is rich in asbestos, manganese, fluorspar, semi-precious stones and marble.

The province has fertile agricultural land in the Orange River Valley, especially at Upington, Kakamas and Keimoes, where grapes and fruit are cultivated intensively. The interior Karoo relies on sheep farming, while the karakul-pelt industry is one of the most important in the Gordonia district of Upington. Wheat, fruit, peanuts, maize and cotton are produced at the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme near Warrenton.

The Northern Cape is divided into five district municipalities and further subdivided into 27 local municipalities.

02_Fraserburg_SALT-from-acces-road-carpark_CharlesVreySALT – from access road car park near Fraserburg
Author: C. Vrey


Kimberley’s Big Hole – Author: C. Lum

Frances Baard District Municipality: The district comprises of four local municipalities and is located in the far eastern portion of the province. It shares its northern borders with the North West province and its eastern border with the Free State province.

The municipality is the smallest district in the Northern Cape. However, it accommodates the largest proportion of the province’s population. Kimberley, which is where the district municipality is located, is less than 500 km away from Johannesburg in the north, and less than 1 000 km away from Cape Town in the south and the Port of Durban in the east.

Barkly West • Delportshoop • Hartswater • Jan Kempdorp • Kimberley • Pampierstat • Ritchie • Warrenton • Windsorton

Kuruman Eye – Source:

John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality: Formerly known as Kgalagadi, it comprises of three local municipalities and 186 towns and settlements, of which the majority (80%) are villages. The boundaries of this district were demarcated in 2006 to include the once north-western part of Joe Morolong and Olifantshoek, along with its surrounds, into the Gamagara Local Municipality.

It has an established rail network from Sishen South and between Black Rock and Dibeng. It is characterised by a mixture of land uses, of which agriculture and mining are dominant. The district holds potential as a viable tourist destination and has numerous growth opportunities in the industrial sector.

Cities/Towns: Bankhara-Bodulong • Deben • Hotazel • Kathu • Kuruman • Mothibistad • Olifantshoek • Santoy • Van Zylsrus

Wreck of the Aristea at Hondeklip Bay
Author: A. Arnot

 Namakwa District Municipality: The district is comprised of six local municipalities and it is bordered by Namibia in the north, ZF Mgcawu Local Municipality (previously Siyanda Local Municipality) in the north-east, Pixley Ka Seme District Municipality in the east, Central Karoo District Municipality in the south-east, Cape Winelands District Municipality in the south, West Coast District Municipality in the south-west, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The seat of the Namakwa District Municipality is Springbok.

Cities/Towns: Aggeneys • Alexander Bay • Brandvlei • Bulletrap • Calvinia • Carolusberg • Concordia • Eksteensfontein • Frasersburg • Garies • Hondeklip Bay • Kamieskroon • Kleinzee • Koingnaas • Komaggas • Kuboes • Leliefontein/Kamiesberg • Loeriesfontein • Middelpos • Nababeep • Nieuwoudtville • O’Kiep • Onderste Doorns • Pella • Pofadder • Port Nolloth • Richtersveld • Sanddrift • Springbok • Steinkopf • Sutherland • Williston

David Livingstone Memorial at Campbell
Author: D. Prinsloo

Pixley Ka Seme District Municipality: The district lies in the south-east of the province and shares its borders with three other provinces, namely the Free State to the east, the Eastern Cape to the south-east and the Western Cape to the south-west.

It is comprised of eight local municipalities with its main town being De Aar. It is second-largest of the five district municipalities in the province. Traffic flows through the region, linking the major industrial areas of the country.

The area has a low rainfall, while the largest river in South Africa, the Orange, flows through it. Two of the major dams in South Africa, the Vanderkloof and Gariep Dams, are situated on the borders of the district municipality.

Cities/Towns: Britstown • Burgerville • Campbell • Carnarvon • Colesberg • Copperton • De Aar • Douglas • Griekwastad • Griesenkraal • Hanover • Hopetown • Hutchinson • Loxton • Marydale • Niekerkshoop • Norvalspont • Noupoort • Petrusville • Philipstown • Prieska • Richmond • Riet River • Schmidtsdrif • Strydenburg • Van der Kloof • Vanwyksvlei • Victoria West • Vosburg

Orange River in Keimoes – Author: T. Wagner

 ZF Mgcawu District Municipality: Formerly named Siyanda District Municipality, forms the mid-northern section of the province on the frontier with Botswana.

It covers almost 30% of the entire province, out of which 65 000 km² comprise the vast Kalahari Desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the former Bushmanland. This district comprises six local municipalities with Upington being the district municipal capital, where the municipal government is located.

The District Management Area (DMA) mainly consists of areas in the Kalahari, private farmlands in the Kenhardt and surrounding areas, as well as the community of Riemvasmaak. In spite of the vast area that the DMA covers, it is scarcely populated due to its predominant agricultural characteristic.

Beeshoek • Brandboom • Danielskuil • Eksteenskuil • Groblershoop • Kakamas • Keimoes • Kenhardt • Lime Acres • Mier • Postmasburg • Rietfontein • Upington

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