Study in Cape Town, South Africa
Study in Cape Town, South AfricaIn the language of the Khoisan people who inhabited the area prior to its settlement by the Dutch, it is known as Hoerikwaggo – the “Mountain in the Sea.” The iconic landmark was the center of their communal and spiritual life, a source of clean drinking water and of refuge from the elements. European settlers gave Hoerikwaggo the somewhat less imaginative name “Table Mountain,” but had no less respect for its beauty and natural potency. Today, the mountain remains the geographic and symbolic heart of Cape Town, and it is now sheltered by a national park that protects it from damage and development.
Spilling out around Table Mountain is Cape Town, a large city of 800,000 and the most popular travel destination in Africa. Since its founding some 460 years ago, it has been at the epicenter of South Africa's tumultuous history, from early Dutch settlement through conflict with the British, right up to the end of apartheid and the country's emergence as a major power in the global economy. It is often mistakenly referred to as the capital of South Africa, although in fact this is only partially true: as home of the national parliament, it is the legislative capital of South Africa, but the administrative capital is in Pretoria and the judicial capital is in Bloemfontein.
Cape Town's prominence in South African national politics is equaled by its importance as an ecological hotspot. The Cape Floral Kingdom, which is centered on Table Mountain itself, is one of a handful of recognized “global biodiversity hotspots,” and the area is packed with unique wildlife that can be found nowhere else on earth. As a result, thousands of avid ecotourists flock to Cape Town each year to experience its dramatic scenery and stunning array of natural flora and fauna.
Not surprisingly given its size and prominence, Cape Town is home to some of the best educational institutions in all of South Africa. The University of Cape Town or UCT, the flagship institution of higher education in South Africa, is by far the top-ranked university on the continent, and is the only African university to be ranked among the top 200 worldwide educational institutions. Spread out on a beautiful campus at the foot of Devil’s Peak, UCT is not only the academic heart of South Africa, but also a social hub for students and college-age residents, who meet and mingle in the neighborhood around campus.
Cape Town, like all of South Africa, is extremely popular with foreign students, especially those from the English-speaking world. Its pleasant climate, lack of a language barrier, relative political stability, and stunning natural beauty make it one of the most appealing destinations in Africa. Thus, Cape Town, with its numerous colleges and universities, has a reputation as a meeting place for young students from all over the world.