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Durban ( ) is the third most populous city in South Africa, forming part of the eThekwinimarker metropolitan municipality. It is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal and is famous as the busiest port in Africa. It is also a major centre of tourism due to the city's warm subtropical climate and beaches.

According to the 2007 Community Survey, the city has a population of almost 3.5 million. Durban's land area of is comparatively larger than other South African cities, resulting in a somewhat lower population density of .


It is thought that the first known inhabitants of the Durban area arrived from the north around 100,000 BC, according to carbon dating of rock art found in caves in the Drakensberg. These people were living in the central plains of KwaZulu-Natal until the expansion of Bantu people from the north sometime during the last millennium.

Little is known of the history of the first residents, as there is no written history of the area before it was first mentioned by Portuguesemarker explorer Vasco da Gama, who came to the KwaZulu-Natal coast while searching for a route from Europe to India. He landed on the KwaZulu-Natal coast on Christmas in 1497, and thus named the area "Natal", or Christmas in Portuguese.

The modern city of Durban dates from 1824, when a party of 25 men under Britishmarker Lieutenant F. G. Farewell arrived from the Cape Colony and established a settlement on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal, near today's Farewell Square. Accompanying Farewell was an adventurer named Henry Francis Fynn (1803-1861). Fynn was able to befriend the Zulu King Shaka by helping him to recover from a stab wound he suffered in battle. As a token of Shaka's gratitude, he granted Fynn a "25-mile strip of coast a hundred miles in depth." .
Historical architecture in Durban; Durban City Hall.
During a meeting of 35 white residents in Fynn's territory on June 23, 1835, it was decided to build a capital town and name it "d'Urban" after Sir Benjamin d'Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony.

Voortrekkers established the Republic of Natalia in 1838 just north of Durban, and established a capital at Pietermaritzburgmarker.

Fierce conflict with the Zulu population led to the evacuation of Durban, and eventually the Afrikaners accepted British annexation in 1844 under military pressure.

A British governor was appointed to the region and many settlers emigrated from Europe and the Cape Colony. The British established a sugar cane industry in the 1860s. Farm owners had a difficult time attracting Zulu labourers to work on their plantations, so the British brought thousands of indentured labourers from Indiamarker on five-year contracts. As a result of the importation of Indian labourers, Durban became the largest Asian community in South Africa.

Durban today

Today, Durban is the busiest container port in Africa, and a popular tourist destination. The Golden Mile, developed as a welcoming tourist destination in the 1970s, as well as Durban at large, provide ample tourist attractions, particularly for people on holiday from Johannesburgmarker. It lost its international holiday pre-eminence to Cape Townmarker in the 1990s, but remains more popular among domestic tourists.

Government and politics

The mayor of eThekwinimarker is elected for a five year term. Since 1996, the mayor has been Obed Mlaba, who was re-elected to his third term in 2006.

The Freedom of Expression Institute has reported that there have been problems with the Municipality allowing shack dwellers their legal right to march.

Geography and climate

Durban is characterised by a mild subtropical climate with warm wet summers and mild moist to dry winters, which are frost-free. However, due to large altitude variations, some western suburbs get slightly chilly in the winter. Durban has an annual rainfall of The average annual temperature is 210C, with daytime maxima peaking from January to March at and the minimum is , dropping to daytime highs from June to August of and the minimum is . Sunrise in Durban is at 04h45 *(04h15) and sunset is 19h00 *(19h30) in summer & rise at 06h30 *(06h10) and set at 17h20 *(17h00) in winter. (* = dawn and dusk)

The metropolitan area is topographically hilly, with very few flat areas, except in the immediate vicinity of the central business district and the harbour. The western suburbs off Hillcrestmarker and Kloofmarker are significantly higher above sea-level, reaching up to in the community of Botha's Hillmarker. Many gorges and ravines are found within the metropolitan area. There is almost no true coastal plain.


Geographical distribution of home languages in Durban.

Black African account for 68.30 percent of the population, followed by Asians or Indians at 19.90 percent, Whites at 8.98 percent and Coloureds at 2.89 percent. 48.9 percent of the population is under the age of 24, while 4.2 percent are over the age of 65. The median age in the city is 25 years old, and for every 100 females, there are 92.5 males. 27.9 percent of city residents are unemployed. 88.6 percent of the unemployed are black, 18.3 percent are Coloureds, 8.2 percent are Asians or Indians, and 4.4 percent are White.

63.04 percent of Durban residents speak Zulu at home, 29.96 percent speak English (roughly representing the Indian, Coloured and White populations), 3.43 percent speak Xhosa, 1.44 percent speak Afrikaans, 0.7 percent speak Sotho, 0.2 percent speak Ndebele, 0.1 percent speaks Northern Sotho, and 0.93 percent of the population speaks a non-official language at home. 68.0 percent of residents are Christian, 15.5 percent have no religion, 11.3 percent are Hindu, 3.2 percent are Muslim, and 0.1 percent are Jewish. 1.9 percent have other or undetermined beliefs.

10.0 percent of residents aged 20 and over have received no schooling, 13.3 percent have had some primary school, 5.7 percent have completed only primary school, 34.6 percent have had some high school education, 26.8 percent have finished only high school, and 9.6 percent have an education higher than the high school level. Overall, 36.4 percent of residents have completed high school. The median annual income of working adults aged 15–65 is ZAR 20,695. Males have a median annual income of ZAR 24,851 versus ZAR 16,927 for females.


The Durban Metropolitan Area (DMA) has a large and diversified economy with strong manufacturing, tourism, transportation, finance and government sectors. Its coastal location and large port gives it comparative advantage over many other centres in South Africa for export-related industry. Durban's mild climate, warm marine current and culturally diverse population has also provided a drawcard for tourism to the region.

There has, however, been little growth in the number of jobs provided by DMA's formal sector over the past 20 years. The manufacturing sector, which is second only to government in the number of jobs provided, has been shedding jobs as firms restructure and become more capital intensive. High rates of crime have become a disincentive to growth in tourism and many other sectors. Despite a dynamic and growing small and micro business sector, the DMA has very high rates of unemployment, reaching over 30% in some areas of the city. There are still few economic opportunities in the former township areas.

The central business district has experienced an economic decline due to crime and grime. Many corporates have relocated due to rampant decentralisation, especially to the Umhlangamarker area north of the city. This region has become a new central business district near the Gateway Theatre of Shopping. Efforts have recently been made to attract business back to the city, with the new Point development south-east of downtown sporting the new uShaka Marine Worldmarker and many new residential and leisure developments. It is hoped efforts by the city to clean up the business district, new developments in Point and the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium north of the CBD (Moses Mabidha Stadiummarker) will aid in the economic turnaround.

Durban's economic contribution to the region

The Durban Metropolitan Area is the main economic driver in KwaZulu-Natal, contributing over half of the province's output, employment and income. In national terms, Durban is the second most important economic complex after Gauteng, accounting for 15% of national output, 14% of household income and 11% of national employment. Regional development corridors link Durban northwards to Richards Bay and Maputo, and westward to Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg.

Informal sector

The City's responses to informal housing have been met with a mixed reaction. The City won two Vuna awards but has also been strongly criticised by a report from the United Nations linked Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. There has also been criticism of the city's treatment of street traders.


Communications and media

Two major English-language daily newspapers are published in Durban, both part of the Independent Newspapers, the national group owned by Irish media magnate Tony O'Reilly. These are the morning editions of "The Mercury" and the afternoon "Daily News". Like most news media in South Africa, they have seen declining circulations in recent years. Major Zulu language papers comprise "Isolezwe" ( Independent Newspapers), "UmAfrika" and "Ilanga", the latter being seen to be politically aligned to the IFP. Independent Newspapers also publish "Post", a newspaper aimed largely at the Indian community. A national Sunday paper, the "Sunday Tribune" is also published by Independent Newspapers as is the "Independent on Saturday".

A variety of free weekly suburban newspapers are published by the Caxton Group and there are numerous "community" newspapers, some of which are short lived and others which have had stable tenure.

A number of lifestyle magazines are published in Durban, some of which have national circulation. A major city initiative is MetroBeat magazine, a colour publication which is sent to some 400,000 households monthly with a readership of over 1.6 million. As a local government publication, it is a unique initiative and rates in the top ten consumer publications in South Africa as far as circulation is concerned.

A major English language radio station, East Coast Radio ([39928]), operates out of Durban and is owned by SA media giant Kagiso Media. The national broadcaster, the SABC, has regional offices in Durban and operates two major stations here, the Zulu language "Ukhozi FM" with a huge national listenership of over 5 million, and Radio Lotus, aimed at "Indian" listeners. The other SABC national stations have smaller regional offices here, as does TV for news links and sports broadcasts. There are a number of smaller stations which are independent, having been granted licences by ICASA, the national agency charged with the issue of broadcast licences.

Sports teams and stadia

Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban South Africa, under construction.
Durban is home to two closely related rugby union teams, the Natal Sharks, who compete in the domestic Currie Cup competition, and the Sharks, who compete in the international Super 14 competition. Both teams play out of the 56,000 capacity Kings Park Stadiummarker - currently known also as the ABSA Stadiummarker for sponsorship reasons.

The City is also home to three clubs in the Premier Soccer LeagueAmaZulu, Thanda Royal Zulu and the Golden Arrows. AmaZulu play most of their home games in their own Princess Magogo Stadium, but will take especially important fixtures to ABSA Stadium. Similarly, the Golden Arrows have their own stadium, King Zwelithini Stadium in the suburb of Umlazimarker, but play their most important matches in ABSA Stadium. Durban used to be home to a fourth team, Manning Rangers, who won several honours including the league championship.
Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban.
Durban is also host to the Dolphins, the provincial cricket team. Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Barry Richards all come from the Dolphins (although it was formally called Natal). Cricket in Durban is played at Kingsmead Cricket Ground.

Durban is one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and is the host of an A1GP motor race, driven on a street track. It is rumoured that Durban will bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Summer Olympics .

The City is home to Greyville Racecoursemarker, a major Thoroughbred horse racing venue which annually hosts a number of prestigious races including the country's premier event, the July Handicap, and the premier staying event in South Africa, the Gold Cup. Another well-equipped Racecourse is located at Clairwood, just south of the city centre and not far from Durban International Airportmarker.

A professional Tennis venue is located at Westridge Park near The Berea, and an Olympic-standard swimming pool is found in the Kings Park Sporting Precinct. In addition to these venues, Durban has facilities for Water Polo, Hockey, and other sports, most notably the outstanding beach front which has played host to numerous water sports events such as the Mr Price Pro (previously known as the Gunston 500) surfing competition and the related Ocean Action festival. Beach volleyball is regularly played on local beaches and Powerboat racing has taken place in the Harbour. Durban and surrounding areas are also well patronised by Professional and Amateur golfers, with the golf course at Durban Country Club near the CBD being particularly well-known.



Durban International Airport

Durban International Airportmarker services both domestic and international flights, with regularly-scheduled service to Swazilandmarker, Mozambiquemarker, and Mauritiusmarker. The airport handled four million passengers in 2005, up over 15 percent from 2004. Plans are at an advanced stage for the construction of a new airport, to be known as King Shaka International Airportmarker, at La Mercy, about north of the Central Business District, and 15 kilometres north of Umhlanga Rocksmarker.

The airport serves as a major gateway for travellers to KwaZulu-Natal and the Drakensberg.


Durban harbour
Durban has a long tradition as a port city. The Port of Durban, which was formerly known as the Port of Natal, is one of the few natural harbour between Port Elizabethmarker and Maputomarker, and is also located at the beginning of a particular weather phenomenon which can cause extremely violent seas. These two features made Durban an extremely busy port of call for ship repairs when the port was opened in the 1840s. The Port of Durban is now the busiest port in South Africa, as well as the third busiest container port in the Southern Hemispheremarker.

The modern Port of Durban grew around trade from Johannesburgmarker, as the industrial and mining capital of South Africa is not located on any navigable body of water. Thus, products being shipped from Johannesburg outside of South Africa have to be loaded onto trucks or railway and transported to Durban. The Port of Maputo was unavailable for use until the early 1990s due to civil war and an embargo against South African products. There is now an intense rivalry between Durban and Maputo for shipping business.

Salisbury Island, now joined to the mainland and part of the Port of Durban, was formerly a full naval base until it was downgraded in 2002. It now contains a naval station and other military facilities. The future of the base, however, is uncertain, as there is increasing demand to use Salisbury Island as part of the port facilities.


Durban is well-served by railway due to its role as the largest trans-shipment point for goods from the interior of South Africa. Shosholoza Meyl, the passenger rail service of Spoornet, operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Durban: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Pietermaritzburgmarker, and a weekly service to and from Cape Townmarker via Kimberleymarker and Bloemfonteinmarker. These trains terminate at Durban Railway Station.

Metrorail operates a commuter rail service in Durban and the surrounding area. The Metrorail network runs from Durban Station outwards as far as Stangermarker on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato Ridge inland.


Central Durban
The City's main position as a port of entry onto the southern African continent has led to a development of national roads around it. One such highway starts in Durban, and one passes through it. The N3 Western Freeway; which links Durban with the economic hinterland of Gautengmarker heads west out of the city. The N2 Outer Ring Road links Durban with the Eastern Cape to the south, and Mpumalangamarker in the north. The Western Freeway is particularly important because freight is shipped by truck to and from the Witwatersrandmarker for transfer to the port.

The N3 Western Freeway starts in the central business district and heads west under Tollgate Bridge and through the suburbs of Sherwood and Mayville. The EB Cloete Interchange (which is informally nicknamed the Spaghetti Junction) lies to the east of Westville, allowing for transfer of traffic between the N2 Outer Ring Road and the Western Freeway.

The N2 Outer Ring Road cuts through the city from the north coast to the south coast. It provides a vital link to the Durban International Airportmarker and to the coastal towns (such as Scottburghmarker and Stangermarker) that rely on Durban.

Durban also has a system of freeway and dual arterial metropolitan routes, which connect the sprawling suburbs that lie to the north, west and south of the city. The M4 exists in two segments: The northern segment, named the Leo Boyd Highway, starts as an alternative highway at Ballitomarker where it separates from the N2. It passes through the northern suburbs of Umhlanga and La Lucia where it becomes a dual carriageway and ends at the northern edge of the CBD. The southern segment of the M4, the Albertina Sisulu Highway, starts at the southern edge of the CBD, connecting through to the Durban International Airportmarker, where it once again reconnects with the N2 Outer Ring Road.

The M7 connects the southern industrial basin with the N3 and Pinetownmarker via Queensburghmarker via the N2. The M19 connects the northern suburbs with Pinetown via Westvillemarker.

The M13 is an untolled alternative to the N3 Western Freeway (which is tolled at Mariannhill). It also feeds traffic through Gillittsmarker, Kloofmarker, and Westvillemarker. In the Westville area it is called the Jan Smuts Highway, while in the Kloofmarker area it is named the Arthur Hopewell Highway.


Remant Alton, a company which bought Durban Transport in 2004, operated scheduled bus services throughout the Durban metropolitan area. However, Remant Alton's services were suspended in March 2009 due to violent industrial action by its employees, unroadworthy vehicles and the company's poor financial position. Remant Alton is barely functional, has lost key individuals, suffered the loss of 56 buses in a fire, and had many of the remainder impounded due to unroadworthiness. This has left Durban with a poorly functioning formal public transport system.

The Durban People Mover is a tourist-oriented bus service which runs every 15 minutes and consists of three routes within the central business district and along the beachfront, connecting various attractions.

Several companies run long-distance bus services from Durban to the other cities in South Africa.


Durban has two kinds of taxis: metered taxis and minibus taxi. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city to solicit fares and instead must be called and ordered to a specific location.There are a number of companies which service the Durban and surrounding regions.These taxis can also be called upon for airport transfers, point to point pick ups and shuttles.

Mini bus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private cars. Although essential, these taxis are often poorly maintained, and are frequently not road-worthy. These taxis make frequent unscheduled stops to pick up passengers, which cause accidents when drivers to the rear are unable to stop in time. With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often filled over their legal passenger allowance, making for high casualty rates when minibuses are involved in accidents. Minibuses are generally owned and operated in fleets, and inter-operator violence flares up from time to time, especially as turf wars over lucrative taxi routes occur.


Durban is also famous for its iconic Zulu Rickshaw pullers navigating throughout the city. These colourful characters are famous for their giant, vibrant hats and costumes. Although they have been a mode of transportation since the early 1900s, they mostly cater to tourists. see also Rickshaw - tourist attractions.


Educational institutions

Private schools

Public schools

Tertiary institutions

Howard College Campus Tower in Durban, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Durban is twinned with:

See also


  1. ngopulse
  2. ( Statistics South Africa Census 2001)
  3. Cohre
  4. From best practice to Pariah: the case of Durban, South Africa by Pat Horn, Street Net
  5. Isipingo Secondary School
  6. Virginia Preparatory School


External links

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