Strand was established as a holiday and fishing resort in 1714. In 1970, during the notorious Apartheid era, all black, coloured and Asian people were forcefully removed when the town was classified as a white-only resort. Included in the communities forced to leave at this time were the descendants of Cape Malay slaves, who had escaped from Cape Town over 100 years earlier. They lost their homes, but their mosque still stands today.
Strand falls under the City of Cape Town municipality. It is in close proximity to the inland town of Somerset West. Recent expansion and development of both towns has resulted in the two now being adjacent to each other, with shopping malls and residential complexes creating the connections. The unofficial divide between the two towns is the national road which bisects them, the N2. Strand forms part of the Helderberg Basin, along with Somerset West and Gordon's Bay.
Strand offers white-sanded beaches and views of the Cape Peninsula. During the summer, tourists from other parts of South Africa, including Johannesburg, and abroad, come to enjoy the seaside offerings. Tourism has been a major source of local income since 1950, when the town was popular with visitors from the north of the country, and was home to many retired veterans of the Boer War. There is a train service from Strand to the CBD of Cape Town. The great coastal road that makes its way up the eastern seaboard of the Cape rises to the coastal ranges from near Strand.
Strand also used to accommodate one of the largest dynamite factories in South Africa, owned by the AECI group. This area is being redeveloped into a large new mixed-use urban development, Paardevlei and current tenants include Cheetah Outreach.
The main beach in the Strand, Melkbaai Beach, is known as one of the best and safest bathing areas in the country. Facilities on or nearby this beach include Waterworld with a super tube and mini-golf and Harmony Park which includes a tidal pool. Water sports may be conducted from various points along the beachfront.
Strand has a wide variety of organised sport including a golf course, tennis courts, rugby fields, squash clubs, jukskei, and water sports like surfing, sailing, power boating, paddle skiing and board sailing. The Pipe is a part of the beach marked off for surfers and is known for its big, "surfable" waves.
Strand also has an Olympic-sized indoor pool which is centrally heated and is open all year round. The coast between the Lourens River mouth and up to Rooi Els is popular with beach fishermen and rock anglers.
Surfing is a popular water sport in Strand, despite the possibility of sharks. These spots are reportedly much easier and safer to surf than other offshore surf spots on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula, owing to the protection that False Bay offers.
The town has a business district attracting customers from the surrounding basin. The CBD offers banks, numerous shopping malls, restaurants, and supermarkets. The Friedman & Cohen is the largest single shop in the CBD and serves as a major attraction for residents and visitors. The major shopping malls in the area include the Dorpsmeent Centre, Somerset Mall. The latter is not in the CBD, but outside the town, on the border of Somerset West.
Strand's central business district is entirely surrounded by Strand North and Strand South. Strand Beach Road is divided into three sections - the Golden Mile (also known as Melkbaai) is located between Lourens River and Hibernian Towers (cnr/o Beach Road and Sarel Cilliers Road), the central part of Beach Road stretches between Sarel Cilliers Road and the Pavilion complex, whilst the Platinum Mile is located along Blakes Beach and between Odeon Towers and the Ocean View Hotel.
Strand has its own industrial area, Gants Centre. More recently, Gants Centre has increasingly been accommodating non-industrial businesses, including the local newspaper, the District Mail / Distrikspos.
In winter there is a low inversion layer covering the town, resulting in some degree of pollution. This is rarely seen, however, because of the prevalent winds that keep Strand's skies clean.
The town has primary, secondary and tertiary education facilities, and many ECD facilities of varying quality. As of 2007, there are 19 public and private schools.
Primary schoolsDr. G.J. Joubert
Hendrik Louw Primary School
Loreto Primary School (Strand)
Strand Muslim Primary School**
High schoolsFalse Bay High School
Madrasatyr Rajaa Sekondêr
Mills Street Art School
Liams school of hard knocks
Tertiary institutionsBoland College
Chris Nissen Park
The Strand was a municipality from 1897 to 1996. During that period, it used two coats of arms.
Municipal (1) — The first coat of arms was assumed on 24 February 1927. The shield was divided in two by a vertical line, and displayed a golden sun on a blue background, and a fish on a background of wavy silver and blue stripes; across the top of the shield was a golden stripe bearing three red towers. An anchor was placed behind the shield. The motto was Inspirata floruit.
Municipal (2) — In March 1955, the council approved a new version of the arms, by Ivan Mitford-Barberton. It registered them with the Cape Provincial Administration in August 1955 and at the Bureau of Heraldry in October 1993.
The new shield of arms was : Per fess, Azure and barry wavy Argent and Azure, on a fess Gules, between in chief a demi-sun issuant and in base a fish naiant, three towers, Or. In layman's terms, the shield was now divided into three horizontal bands, displaying (1) a golden demi-sun on a blue background, (2) three gold towers on a red background, and (3) a golden fish on a background of wavy silver and blue stripes. A crest consisting of a red anchor on a golden mural crown was added. The motto remained the same.