Durban is the third largest city in South Africa. It is located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The Zulu call the place eThekwini. The metropolitan region created in 2000, in which around 3,5 million people live (census 2011), was given this name.
country and people
The city of Durban was originally called Port Natal. The navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the sheltered bay on December 25, 1497 and named it after that day (natal = Christmas). It was not until 1823 that British settlers established a permanently inhabited place and changed the name to Durban after then-governor Benjamin D'Urban.
Durban seen from the sea
In 1856 the region was granted colony status in its own right and Durban became an important trading port in southern Africa.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal is also known as South Africa's Garden Province. Flat coastal areas are followed by hilly country, reaching as far as the Drakensberg Mountains in the west and the Lebombo Mountains in the north. More than 10.2 million people live in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (2011 census). Traces of the country's first settlement can be found in caves in the Drakensberg. There rock carvings were discovered that are about 100.000 years old.
Landscape of the Drakensberg
Durban is home to the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban University of Technology. A total of around 60.000 students are taught in the departments. In contrast to the wide range of university education, about 10% of the region's residents have no school education and another 20% only have a little education.
transport, economy and tourism
Durban has an airport that mainly serves domestic destinations. The town is connected to the South African rail network and has good road links to Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. The port is of great importance. Durban has a natural harbor that has grown with the development of trade since the 1840's. Today the port is the one with the largest turnover in South Africa.
Durban has a wide range of industries that contribute to the economic development of the region. These include the chemical, automotive, electronics, textile, food and beverage industries. Durban is a production location for aluminium, sugar and paper. The Port of Durban plays a crucial role in importing and exporting goods from the region.
Another important area of Durban's economy is tourism. Visitors are attracted by the beautiful beaches, the hinterland Drakensberg Mountains and the warm climate. This has led to growth in the hospitality industry, including the opening of luxury hotels and resorts.
Golden Mile Beach with Ushaka Jetty
Durban as a travel destination
Basically, Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal region are a good travel destination all year round. November to February is hot, humid and muggy. The winters are mild and warm, only in the higher regions it can get very cold. You can swim in the Indian Ocean all year round. The water temperatures are rarely below 20 degrees Celsius. Nature lovers and hikers are drawn to the Drakensberg, authentic culture of the Zulu people can be found in the Cultural Villages.
As in all cities in South Africa, security is an issue in Durban. The crime rate is increasing and has a negative impact on tourism in particular. It's relatively safe during the day in the busy downtown area and on the patrolled beaches of the Golden Mile. It is best to go in a group and keep your personal belongings safe.
Durban for cruise passengers
Durban is one of the major cruise ports in South Africa. The cruise lines AIDA, Ambassador, Azamara, Cunard, Fred.Olsen, MSC, NCL, Phoenix, Regent and Silver Sea are currently calling at the port of Durban.
In 2021, the newly built KwaZulu Cruise Terminal opened. The operating consortium includes the MSC Cruise Line. The building is architecturally eye-catching and offers everything that cruise ship guests need. When ships call, the tourist information office is manned, and taxis and tour operators are waiting for guests. The city center and the beaches of the Golden Mile are within walking distance. See our post for more details Durban attractions.