Cape Colony

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The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take possession of the Cape with its important strategic location. An improving situation in the Netherlands (the Peace of Amiens) allowed the British to hand back the colony to the Batavian Republic in 1803, but by 1806 resurgent French control in the Netherlands led to another British occupation to prevent Napoleon using the Cape. The Cape Colony subsequently remained in the British Empire until the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, when it was renamed the Cape of Good Hope Province.

The Cape Colony was coextensive with the later Cape Province, stretching from the Atlantic coast inland and eastward along the southern coast, constituting about half of modern South Africa: the final eastern boundary, after several wars against the Xhosa, stood at the Fish River. In the north, the Orange River, also known as the Gariep River, served for a long time as the boundary, although some land between the river and the southern boundary of Botswana was later added to it.



In South Africa, Dutch traders were the first European colonists. The first Cape settlement was built in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a re-supply point and way station for Dutch vessels on their way back and forth between the Netherlands and the East Indies (Batavia). The support station gradually became a settler community, the forebears of the Afrikaners, a European ethnic group in South Africa.

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