Natal

Natal

[neyt-l]
Natal, former province, South Africa: see KwaZulu-Natal.
Natal, city (1991 pop. 606,887), capital of Rio Grande do Norte state, NE Brazil, just above the mouth of the Potengi River. A modern city that has retained its colonial flavor and is beautifully situated among white palm-studded beaches, Natal attracts many tourists. Its port is important in the handling of coastal shipping and in the export of tungsten. There is also some light industry. Natal [Port.,=Nativity] was founded on Christmas Day, 1599. It was occupied by the Dutch from 1633 to 1654 and in 1817 was briefly the seat of a republican government until it was suppressed by imperial authorities. It grew rapidly during World War II, when an airport was built for flights to Africa. Natal has several institutions of higher learning.

Former province, southeastern Republic of South Africa. The area was occupied for centuries by Bantu-speaking peoples. It was given the name Natal by Vasco da Gama when he sighted the harbour of Port Natal (now Durban) on Christmas Day (Portuguese Natal) in 1497. The first European settlers arrived in 1824. In 1837 Afrikaners arrived in the interior and, after they defeated the Zulu there, established the Republic of Natal. Annexed by the British in 1843, it was extended by numerous acquisitions. During the South African War, Natal was invaded by Afrikaner forces, which were checked by the British. In 1910 it became a province of the Union of South Africa and in 1961 of the Republic of South Africa. The fragmented, nonindependent black state, or homeland, of KwaZulu was later created within Natal, which was the scene of clashes by rival black factions (see African National Congress; Inkatha Freedom Party). After the South African elections of 1994, the region was united to form the province of KwaZulu/Natal.

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Ulundi was at one time the capital of Zululand in South Africa, and later the capital of the Bantustan of KwaZulu. It is now a part of KwaZulu-Natal Province and from 1994 to 2004 took turns at being the capital with Pietermaritzburg. There is an airport, a five-star hotel, and some museums. Estimated population: 11,102 (1991).

When Cetshwayo became king of the Zulus on 1 September 1873, he created, as was customary, a new capital for the nation and named it uluNdi (the high place). On 4 July 1879 the British army captured the royal kraal and razed it to the ground, in the Battle of Ulundi - the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War. Nearby is Ondini, the site of king Mpande's kraal, Cetshwayo's father. Mpande's kraal is a big Zulu hut.

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