The story of Cape Town is a story of enterprise. Founded in 1653 by a ship-full of entrepreneurial Dutchman at the intersection of the newly discovered trade route between Europe and Asia, the little peninsula at the end of the African continent quickly became a crucial outpost of the global economy.

This entrepreneurial spirit is still alive in the city today.

Cape Town is beloved for its natural beauty, but there is more to it than flora, fauna, mountains and sea. Cape Town is a dynamic modern city, brimming with human endeavour. It is the continents third major economic hub, and the global face of Africa’s largest economy. Capetonians are the most entrepreneurial people in the country, displaying an aptitude for business three times greater than the national average, according to a study by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

Cape Town can boast a highly diversified economy. It is home to a greater number of successful information technology companies than anywhere else on the continent and also remains an important centre of trade, serviced by a world-class port and a recently refurbished international airport. The single largest contributor to the city’s economy is the financial and business services sector, closely followed by manufacturing.

 Cape Town is well established as the creative hub of South Africa, home to burgeoning fashion, art, music, film and television industries. In recognition of its innovation and development, the city was named World Capital of Design for 2014.

The Cape Wine Route, centred around the towns of Paarl and Stellenbosch just outside the city, produce some of the best wines and brandies in the world. The first vines were laid by French immigrants in the 18th century, and today the South African wine industry is one top 10 in the world.

Cape Town attracts more foreign visitors than anywhere else on the continent. Millions of tourists visit the city’s beaches, mountains, nature reserves and vineyards every year. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the centrepiece of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans converge, and the new wonder of the world Table Mountain are just a few of the highlights. The tourism industry accounts for around 10% of the city’s economy and employs nearly 10% of the Western Cape’s workforce.

Though Cape Town is not exempt from the socio-economic issues that plague South Africa, the standard of living in the city is significantly higher than in much of the rest of the country. The unemployment rate is more than 3% lower than the national average. Cape Town’s Human Development Index, a composite statistic of life expectancy, education and income, is the highest in the country.

Cape Town, South Africa’s mother city, a metropolis of over 3 million people, a place defined by its history but geared optimistically toward the future.  

By Luke Watson