Cape Town, South Africa – September 5th, 2008
Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad; Xhosa: iKapa) is the second most populous city in South Africa, forming part of the metropolitan municipality of the City of Cape Town.
It is the provincial capital of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. Cape Town is famous for its harbour as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is one of the most popular South African destinations for tourism.
South Africa is one of only 17 countries worldwide considered Megadiverse. It has more than 20,000 different plants, or about 10% of all the known species of plants on Earth, making it particularly rich in plant biodiversity. South Africa is the third most biodiverse country, after Brazil and Indonesia, and has greater biodiversity than any country of equal or smaller size (Brazil being roughly seven times the size of South Africa, and Indonesia more than 50% larger).
The most prevalent biome in South Africa is the grassland, particularly on the Highveld, where the plant cover is dominated by different grasses, low shrubs, and acacia trees, mainly camel-thorn and whitethorn. Vegetation becomes even more sparse towards the northwest due to low rainfall. There are several species of water-storing succulents like aloes and euphorbias in the very hot and dry Namaqualand area. The grass and thorn savannah turns slowly into a bush savannah towards the north-east of the country, with more dense growth. There are significant numbers of baobab trees in this area, near the northern end of Kruger National Park.
The Fynbos Biome, which makes up the majority of the area and plant life in the Cape floristic region, one of the six floral kingdoms, is located in a small region of the Western Cape and contains more than 9,000 of those species, making it among the richest regions on earth in terms of floral biodiversity. The majority of the plants are evergreen hard-leaf plants with fine, needle-like leaves, such as the sclerophyllous plants. Another uniquely South African plant is the protea genus of flowering plants. There are around 130 different species of protea in South Africa.