Discover Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its African, Indian and colonial influences. Refurbished for soccer’s 2010 World Cup, the seafront promenade runs from uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, to the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Durban Botanical Gardens showcases African plant species.
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third most populous in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. Located on the east coast of South Africa, Durban is famous for being the busiest port in the country. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches. Durban forms part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, which includes neighboring towns and has a population of about 3.44 million, making the combined municipality one of the biggest cities on the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent. It has the highest number of dollar millionaires added per year of any South African city with the number rising 200 per cent between 2000 and 2014. In May 2015, Durban was officially recognised as one of the New7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Havana, Beirut, and Kuala Lumpur.
Archaeological evidence from the Drakensberg mountains suggests that the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers since 100,000 BC. These people lived throughout the area of present-day KwaZulu-Natal until the expansion of Bantu farmers and pastoralists from the north saw their gradual displacement, incorporation or extermination. Little is known of the history of the first residents, as there is no written history of the area until it was sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who sailed parallel to the KwaZulu-Natal coast at Christmastide in 1497 while searching for a route from Europe to India. He named the area “Natal”, or Christmas in Portuguese.
First European settlers
In 1822 Lieutenant James King, captain of the ship Salisbury, together with Lt. Francis George Farewell, both ex-Royal Navy officers from the Napoleonic Wars, were engaged in trade between the Cape and Delagoa Bay. On a return trip to the Cape in 1823, they were caught in a very bad storm and decided to risk the Bar and anchor in the Bay of Natal. The crossing went off well and they found safe anchor from the storm. Lt. King decided to map the Bay and named the “Salisbury and Farewell Islands”. In 1824 Lt. Farewell together with a trading company called J.R.Thompson & Co. decided to open trade relations with Shaka the Zulu King and establish a trading station at the Bay. Henry Francis Fynn, another trader at Delagoa Bay was also involved in this venture. Fynn left Delagoa Bay and sailed for The Bay of Natal on the brig Julia while Farewell followed six weeks later on the Antelope. Between them, they had 26 possible settlers, but only 18 stayed. On a visit to King Shaka, Henry Francis Fynn was able to befriend the King by helping him recover from a stab wound suffered as a result of an assassination attempt by one of his half-brothers. As a token of Shaka’s gratitude, he granted Fynn a “25-mile strip of coast a hundred miles in depth.” On 7 August 1824, they concluded negotiations with King Shaka for a cession of land, including the Bay of Natal and land extending ten miles south of the Bay, twenty-five miles north of the Bay and one hundred miles inland. Farewell took possession of this grant and raised the Union Jack with a Royal Salute, which consisted of 4 cannon shots and twenty musket shots. Of the original 18 would be settlers, only 6 remained, and they can be regarded as the founding members of Port Natal as a British colony. These 6 were joined by Lt. James Saunders King and Nathaniel Isaacs in 1825.
The modern city of Durban thus dates from 1824 when the settlement was established on the northern shores of the bay near today’s Farewell Square.”
During a meeting of 35 European residents in Fynn’s territory on 23 June 1835, it was decided to build a capital town and name it “d’Urban” after Sir Benjamin d’Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony.
Republic of Natalia
The Voortrekkers established the Republic of Natalia in 1839, with its capital at Pietermaritzburg.
The tension between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus prompted the governor of the Cape Colony to dispatch a force under Captain Charlton Smith to establish British rule in Natal, for fear of losing British control in Port Natal. The force arrived on 4 May 1842 and built a fortification that was later to be The Old Fort. On the night of 23/24 May 1842, the British attacked the Voortrekker camp at Congella. The attack failed, and the British had to withdraw to their camp which was put under siege. A local trader Dick King and his servant Ndongeni were able to escape the blockade and rode to Grahamstown, a distance of 600 km (372.82 mi) in fourteen days to raise reinforcements. The reinforcements arrived in Durban 20 days later; the Voortrekkers retreated, and the siege was lifted.
Fierce conflict with the Zulu population led to the evacuation of Durban, and eventually, the Afrikaners accepted British annexation in 1844 under military pressure.
Durban’s historic regalia
When the Borough of Durban was proclaimed in 1854, the council had to procure a seal for official documents. The seal was produced in 1855 and was replaced in 1882. The new seal contained a coat of arms without helmet or mantling that combined the coats of arms of Sir Benjamin D’Urban and Sir Benjamin Pine. An application was made to register the coat of arms with the College of Arms in 1906, but this application was rejected on grounds that the design implied that D’Urban and Pine were husband and wife. Nevertheless, the coat of arms appeared on the council’s stationery from about 1912. The following year, a helmet and mantling were added to the council’s stationery and to the new city seal that was made in 1936. The motto reads “Debile principium melior fortuna sequitur”—”Better fortune follows a humble beginning”.
The blazon of the arms registered by the South African Bureau of Heraldry and granted to Durban on 9 February 1979. The coat of arms fell into disuse with the re-organisation of the South African local government structure in 2000. The seal ceased to be used in 1995.
Durban is located on the East coast of South Africa, looking out upon the Indian Ocean. The city lies at the mouth of the Umgeni River, which demarcates parts of Durban’s north city limit, while other sections of the river flow through the city itself. Durban has a natural harbour, Durban Harbour, which is the busiest port in South Africa and is the 4th-busiest in the Southern hemisphere.
Durban has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and pleasantly warm and dry winters, which are snow- and frost-free. Durban has an annual rainfall of 1,009 millimetres (39.7 in). The average temperature in summer ranges around 24 °C (75 °F), while in winter the average temperature is 17 °C (63 °F).
Durban has a rich culture, as it mixes the indigenous South African cultures with the Indian culture. This results in Durban being a culturally diverse city that has a lot to offer.
Durban is famous for its Indian food, most notably bunny chow.
Durban is proud of its rich culture and heritage, when walking around Durban you can find people selling traditional beads, and attire.
There were 1,237 homicides in the Durban metropolitan area (Ethekwini) in 2015. The murder rate in 2015 was 35.9 per 100,000 people (for comparison, Detroit had a murder rate of 43.9 per 100,000 people in 2015). The murder rate for the whole of South Africa was 33 per 100,000. Today, Durban is more dangerous than Johannesburg but much safer than Cape Town which had a murder rate of 65.53 per 100,000 in 2014. This is a radical shift from previous decades when Johannesburg was the most dangerous of these cities and Cape Town the safest.
Criminals usually avoid targeting tourists because they know that the police response will be greater.
Heists or theft is a common crime in the city.
There was a period of intense violence in the 1990s and the Durban area recorded a murder rate of 83 per 100,000 in 1999. The murder rate dropped rapidly in the 2000s and has been slowly increasing in the 2010s. Durban is one of the main drug trafficking routes for drugs exiting and entering Sub-Saharan Africa. The drug trade has increased significantly over the past 20 years.