Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape, a land of undulating hills, endless sweeps of sandy beaches, majestic mountain ranges and emerald green forests, is in surface the second largest of the nine provinces.

The region boasts a remarkable natural diversity, ranging from the dry desolate Great Karoo to the lush forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley, the fertile Langkloof, renowned for its rich apple harvests, and the mountainous southern Drakensberg region at Elliot.

The main feature of the Eastern Cape is its astonishing coastline lapped by the Indian Ocean. With its long stretches of undisturbed sandy beaches, rocky coves, secluded lagoons and towering cliffs, the coastline provides the province with a rich natural tourist attraction.

The graceful curve of Algoa Bay provides an ideal setting for the Port of Port Elizabeth while there are also good harbour facilities at East London. The province is serviced by three airports situated at Port Elizabeth, East London and Umtata.

The architecture of many of the cities and towns reflects the rich heritage of the people.

The capital is Bisho. Other important towns in the province include Uitenhage, which has important motor vehicle-manufacturing and related industries; King William's Town, rich in early settler and military history; Grahamstown, also known as the City of Saints because of its more than 40 churches; Graaff-Reinet, with its interesting collection of historic buildings; Cradock, the hub of the Central Karoo; Stutterheim, the forestry centre of the province; Aliwal North, famous for its hot sulphur springs; and Port St Johns, the largest town on the Wild Coast.

In the Eastern Cape, various floral habitats meet. Along the coast, the northern tropical forests intermingle with the more temperate woods of the south. This makes for an interesting forest habitat of various species endemic to this region alone.

Age-old forests occur at Keiskammahoek, Dwesa, Port St Johns and Bathurst; dune forests are found at Alexandria; and mangroves along the Wild Coast.

Rolling grasslands dominate the eastern interior of the province, while the western central plateau is savanna bushveld. The northern inland is home to the aromatic Karoo succulent bush.