the eastern coast-lands the vegetation becomes distinctly subtropical. Of pod-bearing plants there are upwards of eighty genera: Cape “everlasting” flowers (generally species of Helichrysum) are in great numbers. Several species of aloe are indigenous to the Cape. The so-called American aloe has also been naturalized. The castor-oil plant and many other plants of great value in medicine are indigenous in great abundance. Among plants remarkable in their appearance and structure may be noted the cactus-like Euphorbiae or spurge plants, the Stapelia or carrion flower, and the elephant's foot or Hottentots' bread, a plant of the same order as the yam. Hooks, thorns and prickles are characteristic of many South African plants.
Forests are confined to the seaward slopes of the coast ranges facing south. They cover between 500 and 600 sq. m. The forests contain a great variety of useful woods, affording excellent timber; among the commonest trees are the yellow wood, which is also one of the largest, belonging to the yew species; black iron wood; heavy, close-grained and durable stinkhout; melkhout, a white wood used for wheel work; nieshout; and the assegai or Cape lancewood. Forest trees rarely exceed 30 ft. in height and scarcely any attain a greater height than 60 ft. A characteristic Cape tree is Leucadendron argenteum or silver tree, so named from the silver-like lustre of stem and leaves. The so-called cedars, whence the Cedarberg got its name, exist no longer. Among trees introduced by the Dutch or British colonists the oak, poplar, various pines, the Australian blue-gum (eucalyptus) and wattle flourish. The silver wattle grows freely in shifting sands and by its means waste lands, e.g. the Cape Flats, have been reclaimed. The oak grows more rapidly and more luxuriantly than in Europe. There are few indigenous fruits; the kei apple is the fruit of a small tree or shrub found in Kaffraria and the eastern districts, where also the wild and Kaffir plums are common; hard pears, gourds, water melons and species of almond, chestnut and lemon are also native. Almost all the fruits of other countries have been introduced and flourish. On the Karroo the bush consists of dwarf mimosas, wax-heaths and other shrubs, which after the spring rains are gorgeous in blossom (see Karroo). The grass of the interior plains is of a coarse character and yellowish colour, very different from the meadow grasses of England. The “Indian” doab grass is also indigenous.
With regard to mountain flora arborescent shrubs do not reach beyond about 4000 ft. Higher up the slopes are covered with small heath, Bruniaceae, Rutaceae, &c. All plants with permanent foliage are thickly covered with hair. Above 6000 ft. over seventy species of plants of Alpine character have been found.
Races and Population. — The first inhabitants of Cape Colony of whom there is any record were Bushmen and Hottentots (q.v.). The last-named were originally called Quaequaes, and received the name Hottentots from the Dutch. They dwelt chiefly in the south-west and north-west parts of the country; elsewhere the inhabitants were of Bantu negroid stock, and to them was applied the name Kaffir. When the Cape was discovered by Europeans, the population, except along the coast, was very scanty and it is so still. The advent of Dutch settlers and a few Huguenot families in the 17th century was followed in the 19th century by that of English and German immigrants. The Bushmen retreated before the white races and now few are to be found in the colony. These live chiefly in the districts bordering the Orange river. The tribal organization of the Hottentots has been broken up, and probably no pure bred representatives of the race survive in the colony.
Half-breeds of mixed Hottentot, Dutch and Kaffir blood now form the bulk of the native population west of the Great Fish river. Of Kaffir tribes the most important living north of the Orange river are the Bechuanas, whilst in the eastern province and Kaffraria live the Fingoes, Tembus and Pondos. The Amaxosa are the principal Kaffir tribe in Cape Colony proper. The Griquas (or Bastaards) are descendants of Dutch-Hottentot half-castes. They give their name to two tracts of country. During the slavery period many thousands of negroes were imported, chiefly from the Guinea coast. The negroes have been largely assimilated by the Kaffir tribes. (For particulars of the native races see their separate articles.) Of the white races in the Colony the French element has been completely absorbed in the Dutch. They and the German settlers are mainly pastoral people. The Dutch, who have retained in a debased form their own language, also engage largely in agriculture and viticulture. Of fine physique and hardy constitution, they are of strongly independent character; patriarchal in their family life; shrewd, slim and courageous; in religion Protestants of a somewhat austere type. Education is somewhat neglected by them, and the percentage of illiteracy among adults is high. They are firm believers in the inferiority of the black races and regard servitude as their natural lot. The British settlers have developed few characteristics differing from the home type. The British element of the community is largely resident in the towns, and is generally engaged in trade or in professional pursuits; but in the eastern provinces the bulk of the farmers are English or German; the German farmers being found in the district between King William's Town and East London, and on the Cape Peninsula. Numbers of them retain their own language. The term “Africander” is sometimes applied to all white residents in Cape Colony and throughout British South Africa, but is often restricted to the Dutch-speaking colonists. “Boer,” i.e. farmer, as a synonym for “Dutch,” is not in general use in Cape Colony.
Besides the black and white races there is a large colony of Malays in Cape Town and district, originally introduced by the Dutch as slaves. These people are largely leavened with foreign elements and, professing Mahommedanism, religion rather than race is their bond of union. They add greatly by their picturesque dress to the gaiety of the street scenes. They are generally small traders, but many are wealthy. There are also a number of Indians in the colony. English is the language of the towns; elsewhere, except in the eastern provinces, the taal or vernacular Dutch is the tongue of the majority of the whites, as it is of the natives in the western provinces.
The first census was taken in 1865 when the population of the colony, which then had an area of 195,000 sq. m., and did not include the comparatively densely-populated Native Territories, was 566,158. Of these the Europeans numbered 187,400 or about 33% of the whole. Of the coloured races the Hottentots and Bushmen were estimated at 82,000, whilst the Kaffirs formed about 50% of the population. Since 1865 censuses have been taken — in 1875, 1891 and 1904. In 1875 Basutoland formed part of the colony; in 1891 Transkei, Tembuland, Griqualand East, Griqualand West and Walfish Bay had been incorporated, and Basutoland had been disannexed; and in 1904 Pondoland and British Bechuanaland had been added. The following table gives the area and population at each of the three periods. 1875., 1891. 1904.
|Area. sq. m.||Pop.||Area. sq. m.||Pop.||Area. sq. m.||Pop.|
The 1875 census gave the population of the colony proper at 720,984, and that of Basutoland at 128,176. The colony is officially divided into nine provinces, but is more conveniently treated as consisting of three regions, to which may be added the detached area of Walfish Bay and the islands along the coast of Namaqualand. The table on the next page shows the distribution of population in the various areas.
The white population, which as stated was 187,400 in 1865 and 579,741 in 1904, was at the intermediate censuses 236,783 in 1875 and 376,987 in 1891. The proportion of Dutch descended whites to those of British origin is about 3 to 2. No exact comparison can be made showing the increase in the native population owing to the varying areas of the colony, but the natives have multiplied more rapidly than the whites; the increase in the numbers of the last-named being due, in considerable measure, to immigration. The whites who form about 25%