Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein represent the three government capitals of South Africa. These three cities play a vital role in the running of the country, hold historical significance and are also popular tourist destinations.
Legislative Capital of SA: Cape Town
Cape Town is South Africa’s legislative capital, which means that the National Parliament is situated there; it is the place where bills are presented and the law of the land is discussed, debated and decided upon before it comes into effect as official legislation.
The city is an important venue for business, industry, technology, manufacturing, tourism and entertainment and is the economic stronghold of the Western Cape. The country’s energy development is also centered in Cape Town, with South Africa’s only nuclear power plant, the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, providing for all the energy needs of the Western Cape.
Cape Town is also the capital city of the Western Cape Province and one of the world’s most popular coastal destinations. Visitors from all around the world come to the city to witness the first place where the Europeans settled at the southern-most point of Africa, and take part in the city’s creative and artistic sub-culture and lifestyle. Cape Town is said to be the most European part of South Africa because of the prominence of Cape Dutch style architecture and a city vibe which the area has maintained in the post-Apartheid era. The Cape area is also well-known because of its vineyards and a thriving wine industry, its beaches, Table Mountain and the beautiful natural landscapes.
Executive Capital of South Africa: Pretoria
Pretoria is located to the north of the Gauteng Province and is South Africa’s executive and administrative capital as well as the country’s de facto national capital.
The city, also known as Jacaranda City because of the abundance of Jacaranda trees which bloom all over the city, creating a bright purple ambiance in the early summer months, hosts a variety of historical monuments and buildings in remembrance to the Western influence of the English and Afrikaaners in the area, as well as game reserves, the national zoological gardens and Pretoria’s botanical gardens, which showcase the area’s rich natural history. Although Pretoria is smaller than some of South Africa’s more popular cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, it also has a variety of galleries, arenas, coffee shops, malls and restaurants for people to visit and enjoy. The Irene Dairy Farm is also located there; the quaint farm is a great place for family day trips with a park, petting zoo, restaurants and a shop where visitors can buy souvenirs and fresh dairy products produced on the farm.
As the executive capital, the country’s administration is headquartered in Pretoria, where files are stored and documents created and kept. It is also the home to most of South Africa’s foreign embassies, consulates and residencies.
Judiciary Capital of South Africa: Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein, which means “fountain of flowers” in Dutch and Afrikaans is the judiciary capital of South Africa and the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Although the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg became the highest ranking court in South Africa in 1994, the Supreme Court of Appeal remains the highest court for all legal matters not pertaining to the constitution. The “fountain of flowers” is also the capital city of the Free State Province and was given its name because of an annual rose festival held there every Spring. The town began as a predominantly Afrikaaner settlement and was also the capital of the Orange Free State Republic and later the province of the Orange Free State, prior to the new Constitutional order and the formation of South Africa’s current nine provinces.
Bloemfontein is relatively small with a population of only 256,185 people according to the 2011 census but it is still a national hub and the host of sporting events such as the FIFA 2010 World Cup football games as well as rugby, cricket and motocross events.
The author of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein was born in the city in 1892, and it has been visited by other famous authors including Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Visiting the three governmental hubs of South Africa is a good way to experience the different facets of the country as well as immerse oneself in its historical development and culture. Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein each have a unique setting and experience to offer.