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What Makes It Difficult to Visit South Africa’s Capital?

Visiting South Africa's capital can be challenging due to its unique setup: Pretoria is the executive capital, while Cape Town is the legislative and Bloemfontein the judicial. Navigating these three distinct cities for official matters requires careful planning and understanding of their roles. How might this tri-capital arrangement affect your travel plans? Join us as we examine the intricacies.

What’s the capital South Africa? It's a straightforward questions, but there isn't a straightforward answer. If you thought “Pretoria,” you’d be incorrect. At least partially.

The Union of South Africa was created after the Second Boer War. Negotiations between the British Empire and the defeated Boer republics in 1910 resulted in a plan for three capitals. Pretoria is the administrative capital and home to the country’s executive branch (including President and the Cabinet). Cape Town is the country’s legislative capital, where the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces do their work. And, finally, Bloemfontein is the country’s judicial capital, and home of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Sorting out South Africa:

  • When South Africa transitioned to “non-racial” democracy in 1994, there were proposals to consolidate the government in Pretoria, or build a new capital city – but reaching a consensus has been elusive.

  • The idea was popular with the governing African National Congress (known as the ANC). Part of the appeal of a new capital was that it would not be linked to racist symbols of the former apartheid regime.

  • South Africa is divided into nine provinces, and each has its own capital. Lesotho, found in the middle of the country, is not a province. It’s an independent country formally called the Kingdom of Lesotho.

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    • South Africa has a legislative capital ​​(Cape Town), an administrative capital (Pretoria, shown here), and a judicial capital (Boemfontein).
      South Africa has a legislative capital ​​(Cape Town), an administrative capital (Pretoria, shown here), and a judicial capital (Boemfontein).