The Eastern Cape is a traditionally Xhosa area. It was in this area that the migrating European settlers encountered the southward-moving Xhosa tribes, resulting in decades of so-called Frontier Wars. However, nowadays the Eastern Cape is notable for its considerable natural beauty and geographical diversity. It is also the home province of former state president and Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela. The province varies from a rugged, breathtaking coastline to the semi-arid Karoo region further inland. Along the coast there are several settlements of note, the most important being the ports of Port Elizabeth and East London.
Port Elizabeth, or “PE” as it is known locally, is home to a museum, oceanarium, and a memorial to Prester John, as well as some good beaches. The city also hosts the St George’s Park open-air exhibition and craft fair. The city of East London is similar in that it is also host to some fine beaches, such as Eastern Beach, Nahoon Beach and Orient Beach, and good surfing. In the museum in East London you may observe a dodo egg (the only such specimen in the world) and a stuffed coelacanth (which is a prehistoric fish species previously thought to be extinct but re-discovered by a South African man in recent times).
To the east of PE one finds the holiday towns of Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred, as well as Bathurst, which is home to the oldest pub in South Africa, the Pig and Whistle, established in 1831. To the west of PE, one finds the Wild Coast, an undeveloped area of natural splendour. Some of the areas in this region require special vehicles to access. It is also in this area that one may find indigenous tribes living according to strong centuries-old traditions, as the region was of no strategic or economic value to successive colonising governments, and age-old traditions remained undisrupted.
On the whole, the Eastern Cape is one of the less economically active provinces in South Africa, but the natural beauty of the area is difficult to surpass elsewhere in the country.
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