Beaufort West

Advertise Here

A brief description

Beaufort West is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, it was established in 1818 and has a population of around 37,000 people. The town was originally called Beaufort after Henry Somerset, the 5th Duke of Beaufort who was the father of, then Governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Henry Somerset. The town was renamed Beaufort West in 1869 to avoid confusion with Port Beaufort in the Western Cape as well as Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa in 1837 and had the country's first town hall (now a national monument). Beaufort West is the site of one of the largest migrations of mammals on record. In 1849 a herd of Springbok took three days to pass the town. Various important fossils have also been discovered in the area, the first being a reptile fossil discovered in 1827. The town became prosperous with the introduction of Saxon Merino sheep by one of its early citizens, John Molteno, who also founded the first bank in 1854. Beaufort West lies south of a ridge of hills between two rivers, the Gamka and Kuils, and to the north the Nuweveld Mountains with 230-million years old rocks.The most famous person from Beaufort West is Professor Christiaan Barnard, he was the first person to ever perform a successful human to human heart transplant.

The town is significant on the N1 national road. Beaufort West is next to the Karoo National Park and it is also the largest town in the Great Karoo area. In the Karoo National Park are two of South Africa's most highly endangered species, the riverine rabbit and the black rhinoceros, have been successfully resettled. The park is also home to five tortoise species, the most in any conservation area in the world. It is the centre of an agricultural district based mainly on sheep farming along with grain and fruit. A hydroponics project was started there and now supplies premium herbs and vegetables nationally. The town is situated at 851 m above sea level. Summer rainfall typically comes in the form of thunderstorms and the temperatures increase dramatically from November and remain high until February. Beaufort West has an annual rainfall of 150 mm which is much higher than other Karoo towns. Snowfalls have been knows to occur as late as September. In December 2000 the rural towns of Merweville and Nelspoort were also incorporated as part of the Beaufort West Municipality.