Saldanha Bay is a natural harbour on the south-western coast of South Africa, about 105 kilometres (65 mi) north west of Cape Town. The town that developed on the northern shore of the bay, also called Saldanha, was incorporated with five other towns into the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality in 2000. The current population of the municipality is estimated at 72,000.
The port developed into a modern harbour only recently, when it became necessary to facilitate the export of iron ore from the Northern Cape. This required the construction of a railway more than 800 kilometres to the mines at Sishen in the Northern Cape and the construction of a deepwater jetty in Saldanha Bay to accommodate Capesize ore carrier ships.
With strong historic military links Saldanha is also host to a Naval training base and the South African Military Academy. The SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve offers a display of wildflowers during late winter and spring while Southern Right Whales also visit the waters in and around the nature reserve. The area has a Mediterranean climate but the annual rainfall is quite low; it verges on the desert region of Namaqualand.
Saldanha Bay is named after António de Saldanha, captain of a vessel in Albuquerque’s fleet which visited South Africa in 1503.