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lodgeNorthern Cape: quick facts
Capital: Kimberley
Languages: 53.8% Afrikaans, 33.1% Setswana
Population: 1 145 861 (2011)
Share of SA population: 2.2%
Area: 372 889 square kilometres
Share of total SA area: 30.5%

The Northern Cape is the largest and most sparsely populated province of South Africa. Its capital is Kimberley.

It includes the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, part of an international park shared with Botswana. The Orange River flows through the province, forming the borders with the Free State in the southeast and with Namibia to the northwest. The river is also used to irrigate the many vineyards in the arid region near Upington.

Native speakers of Afrikaans comprise a higher percentage of the population in the Northern Cape than in any other province. The Northern Cape's four official languages are Afrikaans, Tswana, Xhosa, and English. Minorities speak the other official languages of South Africa, and a few people speak Khoisan languages such as Nama and Khwe.

The provincial motto, Sa ||a !aisi 'uisi (“We go to a better life”), is in the N|u language of the N?n?e (?Khomani) people. It was South Africa's first officially registered motto in a Khoisan language. Subsequently, South Africa's national motto, !Ke e /xarra //ke, was derived from the extinct Northern Cape |Xam language.
In the Northern Cape distances between towns are enormous due to its sparse population. Its size is just shy of the size of the American state of Montana and slightly larger than that of Germany. The province is dominated by the Karoo Basin. The west coast is dominated by the Namaqualand region, famous for its spring flowers. This area is hilly to mountainous. The central areas are generally flat with interspersed salt pans. The north is primarily Kalahari Desert, characterised by parallel red sand dunes and acacia tree dry savanna.

Mostly arid to semi-arid, few areas in the province receive more than 400 mm (16 in) of rainfall per annum and the average annual rainfall over the province is 202 mm (8.0 in). The west experiences most rainfall in winter, while the east receives most of its moisture from late summer thunderstorms. Many areas experience extreme heat, with the hottest temperatures in South Africa measured along the Namibian border. Summers maximums are generally 30 °C (86 °F) or higher. Winters are usually frosty and clear.
Most famous for the diamond mines around Kimberley, the Northern Cape also has a substantial agricultural area around the Orange River, including most of South Africa's sultana vineyards. Some Wine of Origin areas have been demarcated. The Orange River also attracts visitors who enjoy rafting tours around Vioolsdrif. Extensive sheep raising is the basis of the economy in the southern Karoo areas of the province.

Northern Cape Map

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