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Paarl is a town in the Western Cape of South Africa, about 60 km from Cape Town, and is the largest town in the Cape Winelands. The name is derived from the word 'Parel', meaning 'Pearl' In Dutch, and Paarl is particularly well known for its Pearl Mountain, or 'Paarl Rock', which, while not geologically similar, has been likened to Ayers Rock in Australia in terms of sheer size and proportion.

Paarl was the third European settlement in South Africa and was named in 1657 by Abraham Gabemma. He saw the giant rock glistening after a rainstorm while searching for addition food sources one day and named it 'de Diamondt en de Peerlberg', or Diamond and Pearl Mountain, but the name was quickly shortened simply to Pearl Rock.

Today Paarl is well known for its contribution to the wine industry, and the Co-operative Wine Growers' Association (better known as KWV) used to base its headquarters there. Paarl produces some of the best red wines in the world and the Paarl Wine Tasting Route includes vintages from the famous Nederburg estate.

Many tourists visit Paarl to view the well maintained Cape Dutch houses and their beautiful gardens, as well as the Afrikaanse Taalmonument which was erected on the slopes of Paarl Mountain and is where the foundations of the Afrikaans language were laid by Genootskap van Regte Afrikaaners (the Society of Real Afrikaaners).

Commercial structure in Paarl is like that of a small city, and it has been termed the agricultural capital of the Boland. Paarl has a well established industrial sector that relies primarily on industries supplying the needs of agriculture, and the Western Cape Agricultural Union has now established its head office there.

The Paarl Mall opened in 2005 and draws customers from Wellington, Franshhoek, Ceres, Malmesbury and Montague and provides over 100 shops and restaurants in a R320 million, 36,000sqm development.

The N1 motorway runs past Paarl, and its relatively close proximity to Cape Town International Airport and Table Bay Harbour - both with their excellent export facilities - create a large export market for Paarl.

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