The Northern Cape (Afrikaans: Noord-Kaap; Xhosa: eMntla-Koloni; Tswana: Kapa Bokone) is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley. It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and an international park shared with Botswana. It also includes the Augrabies Falls and the diamond mining regions in Kimberley and Alexander Bay.
The Namaqualand region in the west is famous for its Namaqualand daisies. The southern towns of De Aar and Colesberg found within the Great Karoo are major transport nodes between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Kuruman can be found in the north-east and is known as a mission station. It is also well known for its artesian spring and Eye of Kuruman. The Orange River flows through the province of Northern Cape, forming the borders with the Free State in the southeast and with Namibia to the northwest. The river is also used to irrigate the many vineyards in the arid region near Upington.
Native speakers of Afrikaans comprise a higher percentage of the population in the Northern Cape than in any other province. The Northern Cape’s four official languages are Afrikaans, Tswana, Xhosa, and English. Minorities speak the other official languages of South Africa and a few people speak indigenous languages such as Nama and Khwe.
- Area: 372,889 km2
- Population Est: 1,303,047
- Density: 3.1/km2
- Afrikaans (53.8%)
- Tswana (33.1%)
- Xhosa (5.3%)
- English (3.4%)
- Capital: Kimberley
Mostly arid to semiarid, few areas in the province receive more than 400 mm (16 in) of rainfall per annum and the average annual rainfall over the province is 202 mm (8.0 in). Rainfall generally increases from west to east from a minimum average of 20 mm (0.79 in) to a maximum of 540 mm (21 in) per year. The west experiences most rainfall in winter, while the east receives most of its moisture from late summer thunderstorms.
Many areas experience extreme heat, with the hottest temperatures in South Africa measured along the Namibian border. Summers maximums are generally 30 °C (86 °F) or higher, sometimes higher than 40 °C (104 °F). Winters are usually frosty and clear, with southern areas sometimes becoming bitterly cold, such as Sutherland, which often receives snow and temperatures occasionally drop below the −10 °C (14 °F) mark.
- Kimberley averages: January maximum: 33 °C (91 °F) (min: 18 °C (64 °F)), June maximum: 18 °C (64 °F) (min: 3 °C (37 °F)), annual precipitation: 414 mm (16.3 in)
- Springbok averages: January maximum: 30 °C (86 °F) (min: 15 °C (59 °F)), July maximum: 17 °C (63 °F) (min: 7 °C (45 °F)), annual precipitation: 195 mm (7.7 in)
- Sutherland averages: January maximum: 27 °C (81 °F) (min: 9 °C (48 °F)), July maximum: 13 °C (55 °F) (min: −3 °C (27 °F)), annual precipitation: 237 mm (9.3 in)