Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces of South Africa. Its capital is Bhisho, but its two largest cities are East London and Port Elizabeth.
The second largest province in the country after Northern Cape, it was formed in 1994 out of the Xhosa homelands or bantustans of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province. The central and eastern part of the province is the traditional home of the indigenous Xhosa people. In 1820 this area began to be settled by Europeans who originally came from England and some from Scotland and Ireland.


The Eastern Cape as a South African Province came into existence in 1994 and incorporated areas from the former Xhosa homelands of the Transkei and Ciskei, together with what was previously part of the Cape Province. This resulted in several anomalies including the fact that the Province has four supreme courts and enclaves of KwaZulu-Natal in the province. The latter anomaly has fallen away with amendments to municipal and provincial boundaries.
Mpondo people are more closely related to Xhosa, as they use Xhosa as their main home language. There are other tribes that erroneously referred to as Xhosa people such as : AmaMpondo, AbaThembu, AmaMpondomise, AmaHlubi, AmaBhaca, AmaXesibe, AmaBomvana and other tribes.

European settlers

In the late 18th century the cape colony was slowly expanding to the east of the country. This led to the establishment of a Dutch settlement by the name of Graaff-Reinet named for founder Governor Cornelius Jacob van de Graaff and his wife Reinet Graaff. Later during the Napoleonic wars Britain had motivated its citizens to move to the Cape Colony as a means to boost the British population in the area. This move was not welcomed by the native Xhosa and Khoi communities.
From the early 1800s the Eastern Cape saw colonisation by the British until the formation of the Union in 1910. Most towns were established by English settlers and were either named for places in England or the original founders. British colonisation saw to that schools, churches, hospitals, town centres and government buildings were built to speed up development. Some of the older towns are Makhanda, Salem, Bathurst, Paterson, Cradock and King William's Town.

Notable people

Law and government

The first premier was Raymond Mhlaba and the current premier is Oscar Mabuyane, both of the African National Congress. The province is served by the capital of Bhisho next to King Williams Town. The parliament and other important government buildings are situated in the precinct. The High Court that is superior to all courts in the region is situated in Grahamstown and has local seats in Port Elizabeth, East London and Bhisho.


The Eastern Cape gets progressively wetter from west to east. The west is mostly semiarid Karoo, except in the far south, which is temperate rainforest in the Tsitsikamma region. The coast is generally rugged with interspersed beaches. Most of the province is hilly to very mountainous between Graaff-Reinet and Rhodes including the Sneeuberge, Stormberge, Winterberge and Drakensberg. The highest point in the province is Ben Macdhui at 3001 m. The east from East London and Queenstown towards the KwaZulu-Natal border – a region known previously as Transkei – is lush grassland on rolling hills, punctuated by deep gorges with intermittent forest.
Eastern Cape has a coast on its east which lines southward, creating shores leading to the south Indian Ocean. In the northeast, it borders the following districts of Lesotho:
Domestically, it borders the following provinces:
Climate is highly varied. The west is dry with sparse rain during winter or summer, with frosty winters and hot summers. The area Tsitsikamma to Grahamstown receives more precipitation, which is also relatively evenly distributed and temperatures are mild. Further east, rainfall becomes more plentiful and humidity increases, becoming more subtropical along the coast with summer rainfall. The interior can become very cold in winter, with heavy snowfalls occasionally occurring in the mountainous regions between Molteno and Rhodes.
The landscape is extremely diverse. The western interior is largely arid Karoo, while the east is well-watered and green. The Eastern Cape offers a wide array of attractions, including of untouched and pristine coastline along with some particularly splendid beaches, and "big-five" viewing in a malaria-free environment.
The Addo Elephant National Park, situated from Port Elizabeth, was proclaimed in 1931. Its 743 km² offers sanctuary to 170 elephants, 400 Cape buffalo and 21 black rhino of the very scarce Kenyan sub-species.
The province is the location of Tiffindell, South Africa's only snow skiing resort, which is situated near the hamlet of Rhodes in the Southern Drakensberg. It is on the slopes of Ben Macdhui, the highest mountain peak in the Eastern Cape.
The National Arts Festival, held annually in Grahamstown, is Africa's largest cultural event, offering a choice of the very best of both indigenous and imported talent. Every year for 11 days the town's population almost doubles, as over 50,000 people flock to the region for a feast of arts, crafts, music and sheer entertainment.
Jeffreys Bay is an area with some of the country's wildest coastline, which is backed by some of Africa's most spectacular sub-tropical rainforest. The waters here are noted for having "supertubes", good waves for surfing.
Aliwal North, lying on an agricultural plateau on the southern bank of the Orange River, is a popular inland resort known for its hot springs.
The rugged and unspoilt Wild Coast is a place of spectacular scenery. The coastal areas have been a graveyard for many vessels.
Whittlesea, Eastern Cape, situated in the Amatola Mountains, is known for the first wine estate in the province.
King Williams Town, Alice, Queenstown, Grahamstown, Cradock and Fort Beaufort offer some of the best colonial architecture of the 19th century in the province. One is spoilt to choose between two major cities lining the coast, East London and Port Elizabeth.


The Eastern Cape is the poorest province in South Africa. Subsistence agriculture predominates in the former homelands, resulting in widespread poverty. A multi billion Rand industrial development zone and deep water port are being developed in Coega to boost investment in export-oriented industries. Overall the province only contributes 8% to the national GDP despite making 13.5% of the population. The real GDP of Eastern Cape stands at an estimated R230.3billion in 2017, making the province the fourth largest regional economy in SA ahead of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.


There is much fertile land in the Eastern Cape, and agriculture remains important. The fertile Langkloof Valley in the southwest has large deciduous fruit orchards. In the Karoo there is widespread sheep farming.
The Alexandria-Grahamstown area produces pineapples, chicory and dairy products, while coffee and tea are cultivated at Magwa. People in the former Transkei region are dependent on cattle, maize and sorghum-farming. An olive nursery has been developed in collaboration with the University of Fort Hare to form a nucleus of olive production in the Eastern Cape.
Domestic stock farming is slowly giving way to game farming on large scale. Eco-tourism is resulting in economic benefits, and there is lower risk needed to protect wild, native game against drought, and the natural elements. Habitat loss and poaching pose the greatest problems.
The area around Stutterheim is being cultivated extensively with timber plantations.
The basis of the province's fishing industry is squid, some recreational and commercial fishing for line fish, the collection of marine resources, and access to line-catches of hake.


With three import/export harbours and three airports offering direct flights to the main centres, and an excellent road and rail infrastructure, the province has been earmarked as a key area for growth and economic development in modern South Africa.
The two major industrial centres, Port Elizabeth and East London have well-developed economies based on the automotive industry. General Motors and Volkswagen both have major assembly lines in the Port Elizabeth area, while East London is dominated by the large DaimlerChrysler plant, now known as Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Environmental-friendly projects include the Fish River Spatial Development Initiative, the Wild Coast SDI, and two industrial development zones, the East London Industrial Development Zone and the Coega IDZ near Port Elizabeth. Coega is the largest infrastructure development in post-apartheid South Africa. The construction of the deepwater Port of Ngqura was completed and the first commercial ship anchored in October 2009.
Other sectors include finance, real estate, business services, wholesale and retail trade, eco-tourism and hotels and restaurants.


The Eastern Cape Province is divided into two metropolitan municipalities and six district municipalities. The district municipalities are in turn divided into 27 local municipalities.


Most of the best schools in the province are situated in the suburbs and are known as former "model c" institutions. A large number of black children rather choose to be schooled in them than to attend local schools in their communities due to the standard of teaching and pass levels.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education has been roundly criticised for poor primary and secondary education resulting from dysfunction, special interests, and issues with the South Africa teachers union, SADTU. The province struggles with a lack of schools; a lack of teachers leading to overcrowding; a lack of textbooks; a lack of basic facilities like toilets, electricity or water; and poor transport infrastructure which regularly absents and endangers learners. This is a huge problem faced in the former Transkei.
By 2011, basic education had so deteriorated that the national Department of Basic Education intervened under section 100 of the Constitution of South Africa, taking control of the province's educational administration. The Eastern Cape has since been the worst-performing province educationally and especially in terms of matriculation; matriculants' results averaged 51% in 2009, 58.3% in 2011, 64.9% in 2013, 65.4% in 2014, and 56.8% in 2015.
In the 2015/2016 financial year, the province failed to spend R530 million of its allocated R1.5 billion budget for education, most of it intended for infrastructure development.
Equal Education's 2017 report, Planning to Fail, found a "systemic failure in Eastern Cape education".


The province is served by big medical centres such as Cecilia Makiwane Hospital that has undergone a major revamp recently. Filled with state of the art machinery and more beds. There are many private clinics in most cities and also famous hospitals like Frere in East London and Dora Nginza in Port Elizabeth. Tuberculosis and HIV are the province's leading causes of avoidable deaths, accounting for 9.8% and 5.4% of those deaths. Also known for its traditional black initiation schools, which perform coming-of-age ceremonies involving circumcision and bushwhacking. These have helped to decrease the rate of people contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.