n Journal for Contemporary History - Buitelandse vlagvertoonbesoeke aan Suid-Afrikaanse hawens (1) : vanaf die V.O.C.-tydvak tot 1961

Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Through the ages naval contact between countries has led to the strengthening of diplomatic - and often also other - relations. When a littoral state receives no, or very few, naval visitors, it could be a reflection of that country's relative unimportance internationally and / or of the fact that, for whatever reason(s), the country has been isolated internationally. On the other hand, regular flag-showing visits by foreign warships (the so-called "grey diplomats") can be indicative of a country's important strategic position, and / or of the fact that it is an important role-player, either regionally or even internationally. Since 1652, when Europeans first established a refreshment station at the Cape, warships of many nations have visited this part of the world, and in due course also the other harbours that were created in what is today the Republic of South Africa. It is the purpose of this study (that will be published in three parts) to review overseas flag-showing visits to South African ports. In the first article a brief summary will be supplied of the events in the era stretching from 1652 to 1910; a little more detail will be supplied with regard to the period 1910 to 1945; and the emphasis will be placed on the post-World War II era (until 1961). In the articles that will follow, the flag-showing visits that took place in the periods 1961 to 1994 and 1994 to 2004 will be analysed.

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