Mossel Bay was officially proclaimed a town in 1848 and in 1852, it became a Municipality. As a result of the new municipal dispensation introduced by the South African Government, during December 2000 the Municipality of Mossel Bay was merged with the structures of the much smaller Friemersheim, Great Brak River and Herbertsdale to establish the present-day Local Municipality of Mossel Bay.
The Mossel Bay Local Municipality is situated within the Eden Municipal District which also includes the Local Municipalities of Bitou (Plettenberg Bay), George, Hessequa (Riversdale), Kannaland (Ladismith) and Oudtshoorn. The Eden District Municipality fulfils a co-ordinating function in the area although each of the aforementioned are autonomous.
The municipal area, demarcation code WC043, is 2007 sq km in size and includes the towns and/or settlements of Mossel Bay, Boggoms Bay, Brandwag, Buisplaas, D'Almeida, Dana Bay, Glentana, Fraaiuitsig, Friemersheim, Great Brak River, Hartenbos, Herbertsdale, Hersham, KwaNonqaba, Little Brak River, Outeniqua Beach, Reebok, Ruiterbos, Southern Cross, Tergniet and Vleesbaai.
It is situated on the N2 approximately halfway between the coastal cities of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It is bordered by the Municipalities of George to the east, Langeberg to the west and Oudtshoorn to the north. Its western boundary is the Gouritz River and its northern boundary the Outeniqua mountains. To the east it stretches to the Maalgate River.
The main economic activities in the Mossel Bay municipal area are agriculture (aloes, cattle, citrus, dairy, ostriches, sheep, timber, vegetables and wine), fishing, light industry, petrochemicals and tourism.
The population of the Mossel Bay municipal area is estimated at 117 840. According to the last official census held in South Africa in 2000, the population was 71 492. Mossel Bay has, however, experienced one of the highest growth rates of any Municipality in South Africa and its population growth well exceeded the average national population growth.
The Mossel Bay Municipality has a proud service delivery record. According to a national service delivery index published in October 2009 it is the top local municipality in the Western Cape and sixth country wide out of 231 local municipalities in terms of basic service delivery. It is by far the largest of the top six local municipalities amongst the top six, which makes the achievement even better.