Western Cape Province, South Africa

The Western Cape is a province of South Africa located on the south-western tip of the country between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

It was created in 1994 from part of the former Cape Province.

It is bordered by the Eastern Cape in the east and the Northern Cape in the north.

The Western Cape covers an area of 129,462 square kilometres (49,986 square miles) making it the fourth-largest province of South Africa.

The Western Cape has an estimated 7.433 million inhabitants according to the South African National Census of 2022, making it the third most populous province in the country.

Cape Town, often called the “Mother City”, is the Western Cape’s capital and the largest city in the province.

Cape Town is also South Africa’s legislative capital and houses the Parliament.

Other major cities and towns include Stellenbosch, George, Worcester, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Paarl, Strand, Oudtshoorn, and Swellendam.

The Western Cape is topographically and climatically diverse. It has a temperate southern coastline fringed with mountains. To the north, it stretches deep into the Karoo, while the west coast is extremely dry.

The Western Cape is a world-famous tourist destination with its breathtaking scenery and wide beaches, complemented by a rich variety of cultures, historical landmarks, world-class restaurants, and entertainment.

The Cape Winelands, Table Mountain, Robben Island, and the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are among the province’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Western Cape is rich in agriculture to the extent that the agricultural sector accounts for 60% of regional exports.

The Western Cape is also well known for its wine production, this is possible because the climate of the peninsula and the mountainous region beyond it is ideal for grape cultivation, with several vineyards producing excellent wines.

According to a study, commissioned by the SA Wine Industry Information and Systems, published in 2015, some 300,000 people were employed both directly and indirectly in the wine industry in 2015, including farm labourers, those involved in packaging, retailing, and wine tourism.

Other fruits and vegetables are also grown here, and wheat is an important crop to the north and east of Cape Town.

Meanwhile, sheep farming is the mainstay of the Karoo.

The province is also rich in fisheries with fishing being the most important industry along the west coast. Almost 75% of all South African fishing takes place along the Western Cape coastline.

The rich fishing grounds on the west coast are protected from exploitation by a 200 km commercial fishing zone and a strict quota system. Cape lobster, Snoek, abalone, octopus, mussels, calamari, and oysters are among the delicacies produced in these waters.

The province has a well-established business and industrial base, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Sectors such as real estate, finance, ICT, retail, and tourism have grown substantially, and are the main contributors to the regional economy.

Most of South Africa’s major banks and insurance companies are based in the Western Cape. The majority of the country’s petroleum companies and the largest segment of the printing and publishing industry are located in Cape Town.

The Western Cape has a total of 30 municipalities, it is divided into one metropolitan municipality and five district municipalities. The district municipalities are further subdivided into 24 local municipalities.

Metropolitan municipalities

NameCodeSeatArea (km2)
City of Cape Town Metropolitan MunicipalityCPTCape Town2,446

District municipalities

NameCodeSeatArea (km2)
Cape Winelands District MunicipalityDC2Worcester21,473
Central Karoo District MunicipalityDC5Beaufort West38,854
Garden Route District MunicipalityDC4George23,331
Overberg District MunicipalityDC3Bredasdorp12,239
West Coast District MunicipalityDC1Moorreesburg31,119

Local municipalities

NameCodeDistrictSeatArea (km2)
Breede Valley Local MunicipalityWC025Cape WinelandsWorcester3,834
Drakenstein Local MunicipalityWC023Cape WinelandsPaarl1,538
Langeberg Local MunicipalityWC026Cape WinelandsAshton4,518
Stellenbosch Local MunicipalityWC024Cape WinelandsStellenbosch831
Witzenberg Local MunicipalityWC022Cape WinelandsCeres10,753
Beaufort West Local MunicipalityWC053Central KarooBeaufort West21,917
Laingsburg Local MunicipalityWC051Central KarooLaingsburg8,784
Prince Albert Local MunicipalityWC052Central KarooPrince Albert8,153
Bitou Local MunicipalityWC047Garden RoutePlettenberg Bay992
George Local MunicipalityWC044Garden RouteGeorge5,191
Hessequa Local MunicipalityWC042Garden RouteRiversdale5,733
Kannaland Local MunicipalityWC041Garden RouteLadismith4,765
Knysna Local MunicipalityWC048Garden RouteKnysna1,109
Mossel Bay Local MunicipalityWC043Garden RouteMossel Bay2,001
Oudtshoorn Local MunicipalityWC045Garden RouteOudtshoorn3,540
Cape Agulhas Local MunicipalityWC033OverbergBredasdorp3,471
Overstrand Local MunicipalityWC032OverbergHermanus1,675
Swellendam Local MunicipalityWC034OverbergSwellendam3,835
Theewaterskloof Local MunicipalityWC031OverbergCaledon3,259
Bergrivier Local MunicipalityWC013West CoastPiketberg4,407
Cederberg Local MunicipalityWC012West CoastClanwilliam8,007
Matzikama Local MunicipalityWC011West CoastVredendal12,981
Saldanha Bay Local MunicipalityWC014West CoastVredenburg2,015
Swartland Local MunicipalityWC015West CoastMalmesbury3,707