Cape of Good Hope

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The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. The Cape of Good Hope is at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, about 2.3 kilometres (1.4 mi) west and a little south of Cape Point on the south-east corner.

Cape of Good Hope in  South Africa
Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometres (90 mi) to the east-southeast. The currents of the two oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current and turns back on itself - a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point (about 1.2 kilometers east of the Cape of Good Hope).

Cape of Good Hope in  South Africa
Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus, the first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas ("Cape of Storms"), which was the original name of the "Cape of Good Hope".

Cape of Good Hope in  South Africa
Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has long been of special significance to sailors, many of whom refer to it simply as "the Cape." It is a waypoint on the clipper route followed by clipper ships to the Far East and Australia, and still followed by several offshore yacht races.

Cape of Good Hope in  South Africa
Cape of Good Hope in South Africa

The first European to reach the cape was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias 12 March in 1488, who named it the "Cape of Storms" (Cabo das Tormentas). It was later renamed by John II of Portugal as "Cape of Good Hope" because of the great optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East.

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