KwaZulu-Natal often referred to as "KZN", is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994 the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and all pieces of territory that made up the homeland of KwaZulu.

In the 1830s the northern part was the kingdom of Zululand and southern part was briefly a Boer republic called Natalia. In the 1840s the latter became the British Colony of Natal, though Zululand (KwaZulu in Zulu) remained independent until 1879. It is called the garden province and is the home of the Zulu nation. Located in the southeast of the country, it borders three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, along with a long shoreline on the Indian Ocean.


The province has three different geographic areas. The lowland region along the Indian Ocean coast is extremely narrow in the south, widening in the northern part of the province. The central region is the Natal Midlands and is an undulating hilly plateau rising towards the west. Two mountainous areas, the Drakensberg Mountains in the west and the Lebombo Mountains in the north. The Drakensberg is a solid wall of basalt rising over 3000m skyward near the Lesotho border, whilst the Lebombo Mountains are ancient granite mountains forming low parallel ranges running southward from Swaziland. The Tugela River flows west to east across the center of the province and is the region's largest river.

The coastal regions typically have subtropical thickets and deeper ravines and steep slopes hosts some true Afromontane Forest. The midlands have moist grasslands and isolated pockets of Afromontane Forest. The north has a primarily moist savanna habitat, whilst the Drakensberg region hosts mostly alpine grassland.

The former Eastern Cape enclave of the town of Umzimkulu and its hinterland have been incorporated into KwaZulu-Natal following the 12th amendment of the Constitution of South Africa. The amendment also made other changes to the southern border of the province.


KwaZulu-Natal has a varied yet verdant climate thanks to diverse, complex topography. Generally, the coast is subtropical with inland regions becoming progressively colder. Durban on the south coast has an annual rainfall of 1009mm, with daytime maxima peaking from January to March at 28°C (min: 21°C), dropping to daytime highs from June to August of 23°C (min: 11°C). Temperature drops towards the hinterland, with Pietermaritzburg being similar in the summer, but much cooler in the winter. Ladysmith in the Tugela River Valley reaches 30°C in the summer, but may drop below freezing point on winter evenings. The Drakensberg can experience heavy winter snow, with light snow occasionally experienced on the highest peaks in summer. The Zululand north coast has the warmest climate and highest humidity.


KwaZulu-Natal borders the following areas of Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho:

Domestically, it borders the following provinces:

Municipal structure

KwaZulu Natal is divided into 11 districts. One of these, eThekwini is a metropolitan municipality and the other 10 are district municiplalities.


The coastline is dotted with small towns, many of which serve as seasonal recreational hubs. The climate of the coastal areas is humid and subtropical, comparable to southern Florida in the United States, but not quite as hot and rainy in the summer. As one moves further north up the coast towards the border of Mozambique, the climate becomes almost purely tropical. North of Durban is locally referred to as "The North Coast", while south is "The South Coast". The Kwazulu-Natal Tourist board includes towns like Margate, Port Shepstone, Scottburgh and Port Edward in its definition of what constitutes the South Coast, while Ballito, Umhlanga and Salt Rock are quintessentially North Coast resort towns.

Superb beaches of world-class quality are to be found along virtually every part of South Africa's eastern seaboard, with some of the least developed gems found in the far southern and far northern ends of the province's extents. The beach at Marina Beach (and its adjoining resort San Lameer) was recognized in 2002 as a Blue Flag beach.

An extraordinary natural phenomenon that is witnessed annually on the KwaZulu-Natal coast during late autumn or early winter is the "sardine run". Also referred to as "the greatest shoal on earth", the sardine run occurs when millions of sardines migrate from their spawning grounds south of the southern tip of Africa northwards along the Eastern Cape coastline towards KwaZulu-Natal following a path close inshore, often resulting in many fish washing up on beaches along the coast. The huge shoal of tiny fish can stretch for many kilometres and is followed and preyed upon by thousands of predators, including game fish, sharks, dolphins and seabirds. Usually the shoals break up and the fish disappear into deeper water around Durban. Many questions surrounding this exceptional event remain unanswered.

Hilly interior

The interior of the province consists largely of rolling hills from the Valley of a Thousand Hills to the Midlands. These have been the subject of literature. Alan Paton, in the novel Cry, the beloved country, said:

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa. About you there is grass and bracken and you may hear the forlorn crying of the titihoya, one of the birds of the veld. Below you is the valley of the Umzimkulu, on its journey from the Drakensberg to the sea; and beyond and behind the river, great hill after great hill; and beyond and behind them, the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand.


Vasco da Gama of Portugal saw the coast of Natal on Christmas Day 1497. Christmas in Portuguese is 'Natal', which gave rise to the original name for the region. Its territory was once part of a short-lived Boer republic between 1839 and its annexation by Britain in 1843.

When the homeland of KwaZulu, which means "Place of the Zulu" was re-incorporated into the Natal province after the end of Apartheid in 1994, the province of Natal which had existed between 1910 and 1994 was renamed KwaZulu-Natal. The province is home to the Zulu monarchy, and the majority population and language of the province is Zulu. It is also the only province in South Africa which includes the name of its dominant ethnic group in its name.

Provincial coat of arms

The supporters, the lion and the wildebeest, are symbols of the regions that were joined to create KwaZulu-Natal, KwaZulu and Natal Province respectively. The zig-zag stripe is representative of the Drakensberg mountains. The star represents the coastline being given the name "Natalia" by Vasco da Gama on Christmas day, 1497, as well as the Zulu myth that the Zulu people are "people of heaven" or "star people". The strelitzia flower on the shield is a symbol of the province's beauty. The assegai and knobkerrie behind the shield represent peace and protection. The crown base is a headring worn by Zulu elders, representing wisdom and maturity. The crown itself is a round grass hut built in the Zulu style. The motto is "Masisukume Sakhe", isiZulu for "Let Us Stand Up and Build".

Law and government

Provincial Government

The KwaZulu-Natal's provincial government sits in the legislative buildings in Pietermaritzburg. The site where the legislative buildings are situated was occupied by St Mary's Church, which was built in the 1860s. A new church was built at the corner of Burger Street and Commercial Road, and opened in 1884. The old building was demolished in 1887 to provide space for the legislative complex. The foundation stone of the new legislative building was laid on 21 June 1887, to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The building was completed two years later. On 25 April 1889, the Governor of Natal, Sir Arthur Havelock, opened the first Legislative Council session in the new building.

When governance was granted to Natal in 1893, the new Legislative Assembly took over the chamber that was used by the Legislative Council since 1889. Further extensions to the parliamentary building were made. The building was unoccupied until 1902 when it was used without being officially opened, due to the fact that the country was engulfed in the Anglo-Boer war. The war also affected the Legislative Assembly, which had to move the venue of its sittings when the chamber was used as a military hospital.

The Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council buildings, both national monuments, formed a colonial Parliament of two houses: a Council of 11 nominated members and an Assembly of 37 elected members. The Natal Parliament was disbanded in 1910 when the Union of South Africa was formed, and the Assembly became the meeting place of the Natal Provincial Council. The Council was disbanded in 1986.

The Provincial Legislature consists of 80 Members.

Current Composition of the Legislature

The African National Congress (ANC) hold power in the provincial legislature, although they won the province by a very small majority in South Africa's 2004 elections. Their chief opponents were the Inkatha Freedom Party, allied with the Democratic Alliance.

Breakup of the 80-seat legislature from the 2004 elections:

African National Congress (ANC): 38
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP); 30
Democratic Alliance (DA): 7
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP): 2
Minority Front (MF): 2
United Democratic Movement (UDM): 1

Zulu Monarch

KwaZulu-Natal, as the name may suggest, is also the home to the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. Although not holding any direct political power, the Zulu king is provided a stipend by the government, and holds considerable sway over more traditionalist Zulu people in the province.

To date the Zulu king has thirteen wives, traditionally each year a ceremony is performed in which the king receives another wife. The current King has kept this ceremony, called the "Reed Dance" but not chosen a wife, instead using the ceremony to promote abstinence until marriage as a way of preserving Zulu culture and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.


Durban is a rapidly growing urban area and is by most measures the busiest port in Africa with a good rail network linking into Southern Africa. Sugar refining is the main industry. Sheep, cattle, dairy, citrus fruits, corn, sorghum, cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised. There is an embryonic KwaZulu-Natal wine industry. In addition to sugar refining, industries (located mainly in and around Durban) include textile, clothing, chemicals, rubber, fertilizer, paper, vehicle assembly and food-processing plants, tanneries, and oil refineries. There are large aluminum-smelting plants at Richards Bay, on the north coast. The province produces considerable amounts of coal (especially coke) and timber. About 82% of the population is black. During apartheid, a large percentage were forced to live in Bantu homelands (Bantustans), which had a subsistence economy based on cattle raising and corn growing. Wildlife and tourism is increasingly important to the economy of KwaZulu-Natal. Tourists pay up to $10,000 for safaris on which they might see lions, elephants and giraffes.


As of the 2001 Census 22.9% of the population in KwaZulu-Natal aged 20 years or more have received no education, while only 4.8% have higher education.


Famous sports events

  • Comrades Marathon - An annual marathon run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban
  • Midmar Mile - A mile long swimming race held annually at Midmar Dam
  • Dusi Canoe Marathon - An annual canoe marathon, starting in Pietermaritzburg and ending in Durban
  • Durban July Handicap - South Africa's premier annual horse racing event at Greyville Racecourse in Durban
  • Gunston 500 - a premier international surfing event hosted in Durban.

Provincial sports teams


External links

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