Port St. Johns

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Port St. Johns
Port St. Johns, town centre.jpg
The town centre
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Port St. Johns
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Port St. Johns
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Port St. Johns
Coordinates: 31°37′44″S29°32′13″E / 31.6288°S 29.5369°E / -31.6288; 29.5369 Coordinates: 31°37′44″S29°32′13″E / 31.6288°S 29.5369°E / -31.6288; 29.5369
Country South Africa
Province Eastern Cape
District O.R.Tambo
Municipality Port St Johns
  Total8.03 km2 (3.10 sq mi)
7 m (23 ft)
 (2011) [1]
  Density800/km2 (2,100/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
   Black African 94.7%
   Coloured 3.5%
   Indian/Asian 0.6%
   White 1.1%
First languages (2011)
   Xhosa 89.7%
   English 6.2%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)

Port St. Johns (or Port Saint Johns) is a town of about 6,500 people on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, 220 kilometres (140 mi) northeast of East London and 70 kilometres (40 mi) east of Mthatha. Port St. Johns was the Birthplace of Capital Radio 604.


Geography, climate and geology

Port St. Johns is situated on the Wild Coast on a coastline of about 270 km long. It lies at the mouth of the Mzimvubu River, a river flowing through a gorge known as the "Gates of St John" into an estuary located on the Indian Ocean. On both sides of the river ravine are high sandstone mountain peaks: Mount Thesiger (342 meter above sea level) and Mount Sullivan (304 meter), named after two British Military officers.

It is the main settlement in the Port St. Johns Local Municipality which forms part of the O.R. Tambo District Municipality in Pondoland of the former Transkei. According to the 2011 census it had a population of 6,441, of whom 90% where Xhosa-speaking. [1]

The climate is humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa).

In the area near the town, some of the most significant Travertine deposits in South Africa are found. About 10 km west of Port St. Johns, sandstone is excavated for architectural use. [2]

Climate data for Port St. Johns
Record high °C (°F)31.7
Average high °C (°F)25.1
Daily mean °C (°F)22.4
Average low °C (°F)19.6
Record low °C (°F)12.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)117
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)14.312.311.
Average relative humidity (%) (at 14:00)80808176726566707578807975
Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst [3]


This town is thought to have been named after a Portuguese ship (the São João), [4] which was actually wrecked at Port Edward. [5] Later seafarers mistakenly identified the mouth of the Umzimvubu River as the site of this wreck. [4]

In the mid 1800s the local Mpondo Chief, Ndamase, allowed a few white traders to settle at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. When Chief Ndamase died in 1876, the Mpondo Great House in Lusikisiki tried to take over the area. On 17 July 1878, Chief Ndamase's oldest son Nqwiliso, reacted by ceding the western bank of the Umzimvubu River to the Cape Colony in return for being recognised as an independent ruler and he and his people were promised protection. [6] [7] The river mouth was used as a port, however this activity was abandoned in the 1940s due to siltation, which caused the river to become too shallow for vessels.

The town was the principal port of the defunct Republic of Transkei (1976-1994).

Tourism and road access

Port St. Johns is known as the centre of tourism on the Wild Coast. [4] It is known for deep sea fishing and shore angling. Near to the town are three beaches.

From Mthatha in the West and Flagstaff in the North the R61 road connects to Port St. Johns. A smaller road leads the last 5 km into town. Port St. Johns has an airstrip on top of Mount Thesiger.

The Pondoland Park is a National park and forested area 500 km² in size, including the Umzimvubu river mouth and stretching north along the coast up to the provincial border with KwaZulu-Natal. [8]

Tours targeting world famous "sardine run" are popular as well. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Mtamvuna River

Mtamvuna River is a river that forms the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Provinces in South Africa. The river has a wide mouth and flows into the Indian Ocean just south of Port Edward. The Mtamvuna river is approximately 162 km long with a catchment area of 1,553 km². The name means "the reaper of mouthfuls" because of the damage the river does to crops during floods.

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Mpondo people

The Mpondo people, also called amaMpondo, are a Xhosa-speaking peoples found in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, more specifically what used to be the Transkei region. They are often considered as one of the Xhosa sub-groups. Having started establishing themselves as a nation from around 500AD, and by 1800 being one of 2 lands under King Faku who inherited it from King Faku before him, Pondoland (emaMpondweni) was a fully institutionalized society for hundreds of years before encountering Europeans or Zulu. During the colonial and Apartheid era, the Mpondo people lived in emaMpondweni in the Transkei along with a minority of free Europeans and Xhosas.

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Wreck of the <i>Grosvenor</i>

The wreck of the Grosvenor, an East Indiaman, occurred on 4 August 1782 on the Pondoland coast of South Africa, north of the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. The shipwreck was close to the place where the Portuguese ship, São João, had gone down more than two centuries earlier on 8 June 1552. The Grosvenor was a three-masted ship of 729 tons on her return voyage to England when she was wrecked, carrying a crew of 132 and 18 passengers, and a cargo valued at £75,000. Of the 123 survivors, only 18 reached Cape Town and were repatriated, the remainder dying of their privations or joining with, [[Southern Bantu natives] tribes. Four survivors, Robert Price, Thomas Lewis, John Warmington, and Barney Larey, eventually got back to England.

Port St. Johns Local Municipality Local municipality in Eastern Cape, South Africa

Port St. Johns Local Municipality is an administrative area in the OR Tambo District of Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Lusikisiki Place in Eastern Cape, South Africa

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<i>São Bento</i> (carrack)

São Bento, commanded by captain Fernão de Álvares Cabral, the son of Pedro Álvares Cabral, was a Portuguese carrack of 900 tons wrecked in April 1554 near the mouth of the Msikaba River, midway between Port Edward and Port St. Johns on the Transkei coast of South Africa. The ship had left Cochin on 1 February 1554 and was en route to Lisbon with a cargo of spices, coconuts, silks, porcelain, cornelian beads, cotton cloth and other luxury goods. There are no hull remains at the site.

The Indian Ocean coastal belt is one of the nine recognised biomes of South Africa. They are described in terms of their vegetation and climatic variations.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Main Place Port St. Johns". Census 2011.
  2. Travertine - Port St Johns, Eastern Cape. auf www.geoscience.org.za
  3. "Klimatafel von Cape Hermes / Saint Johns; Prov. Eastern Cape / Südafrika" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961–1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 van der Merwe, E. and Costello, K. Port St. Johns, "Paradise in Pondoland" (2nd edition).
  5. About.com African History: 8 June 1552 – Portuguese Ship São João Wrecked off the KwaZulu Coast: http://africanhistory.about.com/b/2008/06/08/8-june-1552-portuguese-ship-sao-joao-wrecked-off-the-kwazulu-coast.htm, retrieved 17 August 2011.
  6. "Nqwiliso cedes land to Cape Government | South African History Online".
  7. http://www.portstjohns.org.za/history.htm
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-05-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. Offshore Africa Port St. Johns. Sardine Run ocean safari. Retrieved on October 01, 2017