The Northern Cape is the largest (slightly bigger than Germany) and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. It was created in 1994 when the Cape Province was split up. Its capital is Kimberley.

Other important towns area Upington, centre of the Karakul sheep and dried fruit industries, and the most northerly wine making region of South Africa; Springbok, in the heart of Namaqualand spring flower country; Kuruman, founded by the Scottish missionary Robert Moffat and De Aar, hub of the South African railway network.

The provincial motto ('We go to a better life') was given in 1997 by one of the Khoisan language's last speakers, Ms. Elsie Vaalbooi of Rietfontein, who has since died.

The Northern Cape was very important in the Anglo-Boer War. One of the biggest battles of war happened at Magersfontein. The Boers won the battle.

The Orange River flows through the province, forming the borders with the Free State province in the south-east and with Namibia to the north-west. The river is also used to irrigate the many vineyards in the arid region near Upington.

When farmers had to stay in the field to look after their animals, they built small huts to live in. But in the desert where there was no wood, they used rocks which made these little houses looked like bee-hives and were called corbelled houses (it means beehive house). There are still some of these special homes left in the Northern Cape, and they are a special part of our cultural heritage.

The Northern Cape is home to the world's largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is being built at Carnarvon. Sutherland is the site of the southern hemisphere's largest astronomical observatory, the multinational sponsored Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT.



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