The Cape of Good Hope Under the Dutch East India Company 1652-1795

From the time when the Dutch flag was first planted there in 1652, C.R. Boxer describes how the Cape became the maritime half-way house between Europe and Asia.

Carl Peter Thunberg, the Swedish botanist and traveller, who first visited the Cape of Good Hope in 1772, wrote that it “may with propriety be stiled an inn for travellers to and from the East Indies, who, after several months sail, may here get refreshments of all kinds, and are then about half way  to the place of their destination, whether homeward or outward bound.” Cape Town was called by its Dutch residents de Indische Zeeherberg—“the Tavern of the Indian Ocean”—and the phrase is probably of seventeenth-century origin.

However that may be, from the time that Jan van Riebeeck planted the Dutch flag there in 1652 until the opening of the Suez Canal over two centuries later, the Cape was the maritime half-way house between Europe and Asia, and the denizens of Cape Town were the hosts of the tavern situated at the confluence of the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans.

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