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Long before the Dutch arrived where the modern city of Cape Town is today the area was inhabited by Khoikhoi who used it seasonally to pastor cattle. European ships landed on the shores of table Bay and slowly moved the native Africans out. In 1652 Cape Town was founded by the Dutch East India Company as a refreshment outpost. The outpost was meant to supply the OC ships on their way to Asia with fruit vegetables and meat so the sailors could recuperate. There is a great deal of fresh water in table Bay that was difficult to find in other areas and that is why the Dutch chose this area.

Muslim traders dominated the spice trade in the Indian Ocean during the medieval period. They shipped spices from India to the Persian Gulf and then on to Europe. European traders bought gold from Africa and exchange it for spices and silk in Asia. The Ottoman Empire grew and disrupted overland trade routes to Europe. Because of this Portuguese explorers sought to find an alternative trade route around Africa to Asia. In 1510 the Portuguese began landing on what is now table Bay and attempted to steal two native children but the local Khoikhoi tribes fought back and defeated the Portuguese killing 67 men. Conflicts with the tribe led the Portuguese to avoid the table Bay area.

Early in the 17th century the Dutch and English formed trading companies to challenge the Portuguese and Spanish domination of European trade with Asia. In 1600 E. Indian company of bread written was formed followed by the BOC in the Netherlands in 1602. The BOC acted as the agent at the Dutch government in Asia expanding the Dutch influence by taking possession of land in expanding trade routes. Between 1610 and 1699 the BOC took possession of colonies in Indonesia, Solanki, India and the Dutch East Indies. By the middle of the 17th century the Dutch had replaced the Portuguese and Spanish trading networks and establish their own. By 1620 the BOC was the largest corporation in Europe trading.


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In the 1600s both the BOC and the East India Company used the Cape as a halfway point in the maritime trade and set up tents along the shore to rest. They traded with the Khoikoi as well peacefully. In 1651 the BOC established a refreshment station at the Cape. They also built a fort of defense against the local Khoikhoi and other European competitors. The DOC granted men permission to own land, build farms and improve their own food supply in the Cape of Good Hope. By 1655 company employees were growing their own vegetables near the Fort they built. The BOC complained that the land available was insufficient to meet the agricultural demands of the settlements and in 1657 ranted land along the Liesbeeck Valley for them to farm. The new farmers were ordered to sell their products to the BOC and forbid them to trade with the local Africans. This resulted in conflicts with the local who lost grazing pastures as settlers occupied their land. The lack of pasture land for cattle between 1654 and 1659 resulted in a conflict known as the first Khoi-Dutch war that lasted between 1659 and 1660.

By the 1670s the BOC decided to establish a permanent settlement at the Cape. They were worried that the British and the French who also had interest in the Indian Ocean might lay claim to the Cape because of the strategic location. In 1670 the French attacked them at Saldanha Bay. The BOC declared itself the right rightful owner of the Cape district that included table Bay, Houtbay and Saldanha Bay in 1672. The Dutch claimed they purchase the land from the Khokhoi with brandy tobacco and bread. In 1795 the British invaded the Cape Peninsula from False Bay and took over the Cape including Cape Town from the Dutch until 1803 when the colony was handed back to the Dutch. When a war between British and French broke out again in 1806 the British permanently occupied the Cape colony