South Africa’s garden province, KwaZulu-Natal, was created in 1994 when KwaZulu and the Natal province were merged. KwaZulu-Natal is also often referred to as simply KZN. It is located in the southeastern part of South Africa and boasts a long shoreline beside the Indian Ocean. KwaZulu-Natal shares its border with three other provinces as well as the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. The provincial capital of the province is Pietermaritzburg and its largest city is Durban. It is South Africa’s second most populous province with only Gauteng having more residents. Albert Luthuli, the first person from outside Europe and the Americas to be awarded the Nobel Peace Price, was born in Kwazulu-Natal. It is also the birthplace of Jacob Zuma, the former President of South Africa.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The province has three different geographic areas the lowland region along the Indian Coast, the Natal Midlands and the mountainous areas which include the Drakensberg and Lebombo Mountains. The Tugela is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal and flows west to east across the center of the province. The province contains rich areas of biodiversity of a range of flora and fauna.
The diverse and complex topography of KwaZulu-Natal is the cause of the province’s varied climate. The coastal areas are generally subtropical with the inland regions becoming progressively colder. The mountainous areas can experience heavy winter snow with light snow occasionally experienced on the highest peaks in summer. The north coast area of KwaZulu-Natal has the warmest climate and highest humidity of all the regions in the province.
The eastern seaboard of KwaZulu-Natal features beaches of world-class quality. The least-developed beaches are found in the far northern and far southern ends of the province. One of the popular attractions in the coastal areas is the annual “Sardine Run” that takes place late autumn or early winter. During the sardine run millions of sardines migrate from their spawning grounds south of the southern tip of Africa, northward along the Eastern Cape coastline toward KwaZulu-Natal. Because they follow a route close inshore, many sardines end up being washed up on the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal. This huge shoal of tiny fish can stretch for many kilometers and is preyed upon by thousands of predators.
The KwaZulu-Natal city of Durban is a rapidly growing urban area and is also one of Africa’s busiest ports. Sugar refining is Durban’s main industry, but sheep, cattle, dairy, citrus fruits, corn, sorghum, cotton, bananas and pineapples are also raised. Other industries located in and around Durban include textile, clothing, chemicals, rubber, fertiliser, paper, vehicle assembly and food-processing plants, tanneries, and oil refineries. Richards Bay, on the north coast, is home to large aluminium-smelting plants.
Newcastle is situated towards the north of KwaZulu-Natal and is the industrial powerhouse of the province. The city is one of the largest producers of chrome chemicals in Africa. Other large operations in Newcastle include a diamond-cutting works, the Natal Portland Cement factory, and the Newcastle Cogeneration Plant. The textile industry is a major employer in the area and Maize, livestock and dairy farmers operate on the outskirts of the city.