Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias anchors at Walvis Bay

Bartholomew Dias Image source

Wednesday, 8 December 1497

On 8 December 1487, Portuguese explorer and navigator Bartholomew Dias anchored in what is now known as Walvis Bay. Dias was on an expedition to discover a sea route to the East round Africa. He gave the area the name Golfo de Santa Maria da Conceiçao. Dias reached the Great Fish River but was forced to turn back home by his crew. It was on this homewards journey that he reached False Bay on 16 May 1488 and named it the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1910, Walvis Bay became part of the newly formed Union of South Africa. Prior to that, the region was a German colony. During the First World War South African Forces led by General Louis Botha eventually ousted the Germans at Khorab Memorial. South Africa was later awarded control over South-West Africa (SWA) to administer as a mandated territory by the League of Nations.

• Diffie, B.W. and Winius, G.D (1977). Dias Discovers the Cape of Good Hopein Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580, Volume 1[online]. Minneapolis, USA: University of Minnesota Press [Accessed 18 November 2011]
• Namibia-1on1.com (2011). Bartholomew Diaz ”“ Bortolomeu Dias 1450-1499from Namibia-1on1.com...the information site [online]. Available at www.namibia-1on1.com[Accessed 18 November 2011]
• Walvisbaycc.org.za (2005). History from Walvis Bay [online]. Available at www.walvisbaycc.org.na[Accessed 18 November 2011]

Last updated : 05-Dec-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 23-Nov-2011