KwaZulu-Natal was formed in 1994. It’s name is a combination of the former Zulu homeland KwaZulu and the former province of Natal which make up the current area. The Zulu Kingdom is situated in the province, and it is also the home of South Africa’s residing president, Jacob Zuma.
The province is a popular destination because of its coastline along the Indian Ocean, and its two mountain ranges: the Drakensburg Mountain Range and the Lebombo Mountains. Its capital city is Pietermaritzburg, whilst the largest city in the area is Durban. KwaZulu-Natal’s sandy beaches are popular surfing and the climate is warm and subtropical all year round along the coastline and grows colder as one moves more inland.
The area was developed as a result of sugar cane farming, which led to thousands of Indian immigrants moving there from 1860 onwards to work on the sugar plantations. The province’s economy is still dependent on sugar refining but is also supported by its textile, aluminum and clothing industries. The biggest chrome-chemical producing plant in Africa is situated in the city of Newcastle.
Land size: 94,361 square kilometers
Population size: 10,694,400 people
Population race breakdown: 86.8% black African, 7.4% Indian/Asian, 4.2% white, 1.4% coloured
Languages spoken: 77.8% Zulu, 13.2% English, 3.4% Xhosa, 1.6% Afrikaans
Top 3 Nature and Game Reserves in KwaZulu-Natal
Pongola Game Reserve
The Pongola Game Reserve is situated along the Pongola River and includes six separate destinations, including: three lodges, one fishing lodge, and two camping areas. Activities at the reserve include safaris, bird watching, hiking, canoeing, river cruises and fishing.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
iSimangaliso sits on the East Coast of KwaZulu-Natal and is the country’s third largest protected area, made up of 3.28 square kilometers of natural ecosystems. The park includes two game reserves, two marine reserves, a marine sanctuary, a national park, a wilderness area, and Lake St. Lucia. The area’s rich biodiversity led to its declaration as a world heritage site. Animals in the park include hippos, elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions; whilst marine life in the Indian Ocean can also be seen from the park, including: whales, dolphins and turtles.
uKhahlamba / Drakensburg Park
uKahlamba is a world heritage site and spans partially in KwaZulu-Natal, with parts of it situated in Lesotho. The park has lovely views of the famous Drakensburg Mountains and there are numerous resorts and camps for visitors to stay at.
Top 3 Places to go to in KwaZulu-Natal
Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village
Shakaland offers visitors a unique experience of the Zulu Culture. The village resort is situated among aloes and thorn trees and was the original set of the 1986 television mini series Shaka Zulu, which documented the life of the illustrious Zulu warrior and king. Guests at Shakaland can learn about Zulu traditions and watch and take part in cultural dances whilst staying in one of 55 luxury hotel rooms set in traditional Zulu African huts. The destination also has day tours for visitors who would like to learn about the Zulu tribe whilst staying elsewhere.
The provincial capital of KwaZulu-Natal is the second largest city in the province and was established by the Dutch emigrants, commonly referred to as the “Voortrekkers”, in 1839. The city is famous because of its role in anti-Apartheid protests and events, such as it being 22km south of Howick, the area where Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 prior to his 27-year long imprisonment. Furthermore, Mahatma Gandhi decided to stay in South Africa to fight against racial segregation after he was thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg. The city’s name is often shortened to “Maritzburg” when referred to by its residents and the city hall is the largest red brick building in the Southern Hemisphere. The city also has numerous art galleries and museums.
Ballitoville, which is commonly referred to simply as “Ballito” is a small coastal holiday town. The area originally consisted of sugar cane farms until it was established as a private township in 1954, then later marketed to visitors and the public as an ideal holiday destination. The name means “little ball” in Italian and was taken from an advertisement promoting the town when it was re-established. The district has grown rapidly since then, with the town and private corporations planning new hotels, schools and a clinic in the area. It is popular among young couples who move there to begin a new life and the district is the home of over half a million residents.
Mountain ranges, sandy beaches, surfing and Zulu dances: those are among the many attractions of KwaZulu-Natal. The province is a rich and intriguing destination, which is the reason it remains so popular with local and international visitors.