During the 18th and 19th centuries, as colonialists tried to expand their empires, the Xhosa people provided the first determined resistance, and the Eastern Cape became the site of the first real colonial wars in Africa.
Nine border wars were fought between the Xhosa and the British for the control of the Eastern Cape. With the victory of British colonialism and then of Afrikaner nationalism, the Xhosa came under the control of the Cape.. Today, the traditions of the early Xhosa, Dutch, British and German people live on in the people of the province.
The major apartheid resistance movements the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress, and the Black Consciousness Movement - were born in the Eastern Cape. Some of the provinces more famous political heroes are Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, and Thabo Mbeki.
The Nelson Mandela Museum near Umtata offers visitors an inspiring journey through the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
See also Monuments and Museums and Cultural Villages.
Some other historical places include:
Burgersdorp in the north eastern Cape has been a pivotal point in Afrikaner history, culture and religion.
Founded in 1813 on the banks of the Great Fish River to cater for the migratory farmers who settled in this ruggedly beautiful area
The oldest town, it is known as the 'Athens' of the Eastern Cape, with magnificent examples of Karoo architecture, fynbos and more monuments than any other town in South Africa
Today the city is a commercial educational and industrial centre and is known as the 'City of Saints'. It has a turbulent past, with more forts than the rest of the country combined.
Old convenience stores bearing sweet jars, welcome the visitor to the sleepy town of Nieu-Bethesda in a valley at the foot of the Compassberg Mountains in the Karoo - home to Helen Martin`s Owl House.
Known as the Friendly City, a major seaport and tourist destination along the dazzling shores of Algoa Bay, with a diverse mix of historical sites and museums. One of the latest, is the Red Location Museum of the People's Struggle in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth - winner of three international awards.
It was designed to be both a monument to South Africa's struggle against apartheid and an integral part of community life in a township that acted as a crucible for the struggle.
A charming town bathed in history, set among Oak trees, white-washed buildings, mountain streams and waterfalls at the foot of the Boschberg Mountain.