Geography and climate
KwaZulu-Natal province, South AfricaThe garden province of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is a subtropical region of lush and well-watered valleys, washed by the warm Indian Ocean. One of the country's most popular tourist destinations, the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique to the north. Its western part is marked by the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range, with several peaks well over 3 000 metres. The range has been awarded World Heritage status for its dramatic natural beauty and the wealth of San Bushman rock art found in its caves – the richest concentration on the continent of Africa.
KwaZulu-Natal: quick facts
The land and its peopleWith a total area of 94 361 square kilometres, KwaZulu-Natal is roughly the size of Portugal. While it's the country's third-smallest province, taking up 7.7% of South Africa's land area, it has the second-largest population, with 10.3-million people living there (Census 2011). The principal language is isiZulu, followed by English and Afrikaans. Remnants of British colonialism and a mix of Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions give the province a rich cultural diversity. KwaZulu-Natal is the only province with a monarchy specifically provided for in South Africa's Constitution. KwaZulu-Natal has active conservation activities. The Royal Natal National Park, which forms part of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, is home to more than 1 000 plant species, 12 species of antelope and three of the world's seven species of crane. Other reserves are Giant's Castle and the Kamberg Nature Reserve.
IndustryRichards Bay is the centre of operations for South Africa's aluminium industry. The Richards Bay Coal Terminal is instrumental in securing the country's position as the second-largest exporter of steam coal in the world. Richards Bay Minerals is the largest sand-mining and mineral-processing operation in the world. The vehicle-manufacturing industry has created a considerable multiplier effect in component- and service-providers. The automotive leather industry has grown rapidly, with exports significantly increasing foreign exchange earnings. KwaZulu-Natal has also recently undergone rapid industrialisation, thanks to its abundant water supply and labour resources. Industries are found at Newcastle, Ladysmith, Dundee, Richards Bay, Durban, Hammarsdale, Richmond, Pietermaritzburg and Mandeni. The Dube Trade Port at La Mercy, 35 kilometres north of Durban, is a passenger and air freight hub that incorporates King Shaka International Airport; a state-of-the-art cargo terminal; a trade zone that houses freight-forwarding and air-cargo-related businesses; and a agrizone, a 20-hectare development for flower and vegetable production.
AgricultureThe fertility of the soil and comparatively good rainfall – more than 1 000mm a year – make agriculture central to the economy. The sugar-cane plantations along the Indian Ocean coastal belt are the mainstay of KwaZulu-Natal's agriculture. The coastal belt is also a large producer of subtropical fruit, while the farmers in the hinterland concentrate on vegetable, dairy and stock-farming. Another major source of income is forestry, in the areas around Vryheid, Eshowe, Richmond, Harding and Ngome. Ngome also has tea plantations. SAinfo reporter, incorporating material from the South African Yearbook Reviewed: 19 November 2012
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South Africa's provinces
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The Dragon Mountains The Zulu people named it the "Barrier of Spears" and the Dutch Voortrekkers "The Dragon Mountains". The Drakensberg, with its giant basalt cliffs, snowcapped in winter, towers over riverine bush, lush yellowwood forests and cascading waterfalls. It forms a massive barrier separating KwaZulu-Natal from the Kingdom of Lesotho, with the only access via Sani Pass – which, at its top, boasts the highest pub on Africa, 3 000 metres above sea level.