The Northern Cape is the largest province in South Africa, but has the least number of inhabitants. Before 1993 it was part of the Cape Province (under old provinces).

The land is mostly desert, including Namaqualand, great parts of the Karoo and parts of the Kalahari desert. These deserts were the home of many Khoikhoi and San groups, and there are still examples of San Rock Art.

Capital: Kimberley
Principal languages: Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa
Premier: Sylvia Lucas
First premier (1994): Manne Dipico

The Northern Cape's claim to fame:

Diamonds

The Big Hole of Kimberley. Source: Microsoft Encarta World Atlas 1998 Edition

In 1867 diamonds were discovered at Hopetown and then at Kimberley. People from all over the world came to Kimberley to mine for diamonds. Thousands of miners started digging in the ground. They created a big hole that grew as they dug deeper and deeper to find diamonds. This became the biggest hole made by men in the world. It is called the Big Hole of Kimberley. Mining there stopped in 1914, and today there is a museum where people can see how the town of Kimberley looked 100 years ago.

Find out more about the discovery of diamonds in South Africa.

Namaqualand flowers

Namaqualand flowers

The wild flowers of Namaqualand are part of South Africa’s natural heritage. In spring, Namaqualand desert becomes very colourful when all the flowers bloom. Every year, many tourists from all over the world come to Namaqualand to see the flowers.

Anglo-Boer War battles

The Northern Cape was very important in the Anglo-Boer War. One of the biggest battles of the war happened at Magersfontein. The Boers won the battle with special new fighting techniques, like using trenches so that the enemy could not see them in an attack.

Corbelled houses

Two examples of Corbelled or Bee-hive houses in the Northern Cape. Photos taken by C. van der Walt

When farmers had to stay in the field to look after their animals, they built small huts to live in. But in the desert where there was no wood, they used rocks. These little houses looked like bee-hives, and were called corbelled houses (it means bee-hive house). There are still some of these special homes left in the Northern Cape, and they are a special part of our cultural heritage.