KwaZulu-Natal is one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations. It includes South Africa’s lush subtropical east coast, stretching from Port Edward in the south to Mozambique in the north.

The Drakensberg mountain range stretches the entire length of KwaZulu-Natal’s western boundary. The Drakensberg forms the boundary between South Africa as well as the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, and offers some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. It provided the backdrop for the films Zulu (1964) and Yesterday (2004) and the setting for Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country, and is the inspiration for a million picture postcards. Within the area is a vast 243 000-hectare sweep of basalt summits and buttresses; this section was formally granted World Heritage status in November 2000, and was renamed uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.

The summer-rainfall coastal regions are hot and humid, with a subtropical climate. The Midlands area is drier, with extremely cold conditions in winter as well as snow on the high-lying ground. In the north, the subtropical strip extends around Swaziland to the edge of the escarpment.

Visitors can enter the province through the King Shaka International Airport at La Mercy, north of Durban, or use the extensive national road network. There are also two major harbours – the port of Durban, which is one the busiest in Africa, and Richards Bay, which is an important coal-export harbour.

There are several nature reserves including the Royal Natal National Park, Giant’s Castle as well as the Kamberg Nature Reserve. Tertiary institutions of learning in the province include the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban Institute of Technology.

KwaZulu-Natal is the only province with a monarchy specifically provided for in the Constitution.

KwaZulu-Natal Industry and agriculture

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has a diverse industrial sector, with major industries having developed around the port of Durban. Major industries in the province are agriculture, forestry, aluminium, petro-chemicals, automotive manufacturing, steel production, plastics and packaging, paper and board manufacturing, and a range of industries associated with imports and exports though the major ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

The coastal belt is also a large producer of subtropical fruit and sugar, while the farmers in the hinterland concentrate on vegetables, dairy and stock farming.

Another major source of income is forestry in the areas around Vryheid, Eshowe, Richmond, Harding and Ngome, which is also known for its tea plantations.

KwaZulu-Natal Population

Capital: Pietermaritzburg
Principal languages:

  • IsiZulu 82,5%
  • English 12,5%
  • Afrikaans 1,0%

Population: 11 065 240
Percentage share of the total South African Population population: 19,9%
Area: 94 361 km2
Source: Stats SA’s Mid-year population estimates 2017 and Community Survey 2016