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Cape Town South Africa
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Cape Town, South Africa

April 29, 2005

The Cape of Good Hope, southern Africa's most famous and treacherous landmark, hooks south around Valsbaai (False Bay) on the southeastern end of the continent in this true-color Terra MODIS image from April 15, 2005. For centuries the winds that blow almost constantly in the region would drive ships into the rocks, making the passage from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean extremely challenging and dangerous. However, the true southern point of Africa is not the Cape of Good Hope; that point is actually about 150 km (93 mi) to the southeast at Cape Agulhas, which is also where the Atlantic Ocean officially becomes the Indian Ocean.

This region of South Africa is one of the most spectacular. The cold Benguela Current, which fuels the spectacular sulfur blooms far to the north off the coast of the Namib Desert, mixes with the warm Agulhas Current to create a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean, with wet winters and hot dry summers. Stretches of green along the coast and mountains are evidence of the spectacular diversity of plant-life here: over 9,000 species of flowering plants can be found here, as well as many types of evergreen plants.

Dark green ribbons of color in the water are evidence of phytoplankton blooms, which feed off of nutrients in the water. A line of bright red dots on the western side of the image mark fires that are likely agricultural in nature and set in preparation for the coming dormant winter months of the Southern Hemisphere.



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