The Northern Cape lies to the south of its most important asset, the mighty Orange River, which provides the basis for a healthy agricultural industry. The landscape is characterised by vast arid plains with outcroppings of haphazard rock piles. The cold Atlantic Ocean forms the western boundary. This region covers the largest area of all the provinces and has the smallest population. Its major airports are situated at Kimberley, the capital, and at Upington. The Northern Cape has an excellent road network, which makes its interior easily accessible from South Africa’s major cities, harbours and airports. Important towns are 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 the Namaqualand springflower country; Kuruman, founded by the Scottish missionary Robert Moffat; and De Aar, second-most important junction of South Africa’s railway network. Sutherland is host to the southern hemisphere’s largest astronomical observatory, the multinationalsponsored Southern African Large Telescope. Other important Northern Cape towns include the sheep-farming towns of Carnarvon, Colesberg, Kenhardt and Prieska, which is also renowned for its semi-precious stones and large variety of succulents. Apart from a narrow strip of winter-rainfall area along the coast, the Northern Cape is a semi-arid region with little rainfall in summer. The weather conditions are extreme – cold and frosty in winter, with extremely high temperatures in summer. The largest part of the province falls within the Nama-Karoo biome, with a vegetation of low shrubland and grass, and trees limited to water courses. The area is known worldwide for its spectacular display of spring flowers that attracts thousands of tourists every year. This biome is home to many wonderful plant species, such as the elephant’s trunk (halfmens), tree aloe (kokerboom) and a variety of succulents. The province has several national parks and conservation areas. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, together with the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, is Africa’s first transfrontier game park, known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It is one of the largest nature-conservation areas in southern Africa and one of the largest remaining protected natural ecosystems in the world. The park provides unfenced access to a variety of game between South Africa and Botswana. The Ai-Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Park spans some of the most spectacular scenery of the arid and desert environments in southern Africa. Bisected by the Orange River, which forms the border between South Africa and Namibia, it comprises the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa. Some of the distinctive features in the area include the Fish River Canyon (often likened to the Grand Canyon in the United States of America) and the Ai-Ais hot springs. This arid zone is further characterised by a unique and impressive variety of succulent plant species. Nowhere is the Orange River more impressive than at the Augrabies Falls, which ranks among the world’s greatest cataracts on a major river. The Augrabies Falls National Park was established to preserve this natural wonder.
The Big Hole & Kimberley Mine
Augrabies Falls National Park
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