Why did the British occupy the cape?

Why did the British occupy the cape?

The British were the second group of Europeans to occupy South Africa.

They come from Great Britain and were second to the Dutch.




They occupied the cape twice i.e. for the first time between 1795 and 1803 and for the second time between 1806 and 1912.

the reasons Why the British occupied the cape

  • Britain feared that French whom it was with at war could occupy South Africa and destroy her commercial interests in India.
  • The cape was strategically important because it was located on the sea route to India.
  • The cape was half way on the route to India. The cape could therefore act as a calling station for the ships sailing to and fro India.




  • Britain was requested by the king of Holland William IV to protect the Cape. In 1793, France invaded and occupied Holland and the king of Holland ousted to Britain requested the latter to occupy the cape and protect his possessions.
  • The cape had a Mediterranean climate which was very good for the growth of vegetables and tropical fruits.
  • The cape had good natural habours that were suitable for the ships.
  • They wanted the cape to act as a defense base for the protection of the sea route to India.
  • The British wanted to get prestige by colonizing South Africa. This is because the more colonies one had the more prestigious she was.
  • The need to get raw materials from the cape and the nearby areas made the British to occupy the cape.




  • The cape would act as market for the British manufactured goods since her market in Europe had been destroyed by Napoleonic wars.
  • The decline and the collapse of the Dutch East Indian Company made the British to occupy the cape before the French could do so.
  • Britain wanted to protect the increasing British farmers settling in South Africa.
  • The desire to trade with the local inhabitants such as the Khoikhoi and the Bantu.
  • The breaking of the treaty of Amiens by the French led the second British occupation.




  • Presence of unoccupied land with fertile soils in the interior of South Africa.
  • As a result, the British troops invaded the cape in 1795 for a short time up to 1803 and then from 1806 to 1912.

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