Province of the Republic of South Africa, formed from the former province of Natal and the former black homeland of KwaZulu; area 91,481 sq km/35,321 sq mi; population (2014 est) 10,694,400 (75% Zulu); it is the most populous province of the Republic. The towns of Ulundi and Pietermaritzburg are joint capital; other towns include Durban and Richards Bay. The province is a narrow plain bounded by the Drakensberg Mountains to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. KwaZulu contributes the bulk of the manufacturing output of South Africa, and industries include oil refining, coal, iron and steel, engineering, and food processing. Agricultural products include sugar, maize, fruit (including subtropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and pawpaws), black wattle, tobacco, and vegetables. With the attractions of coastal resorts with year-round sea bathing, several national parks (such as the Umfolozi Game Reserve and the St Lucia Marine Reserve), as well as the spectacular scenery of the Drakensburg Mountains, the tourist industry has also grown to major importance.
History The British colony of Natal annexed Zululand in 1897 and it became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910. KwaZulu-Natal was created in May 1994, and the towns of Pietermaritzberg (capital of Natal) and Ulundi ruled as joint capital.
The conflict in 1990–94 between followers of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the president of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who wanted federal status for KwaZulu-Natal, and those of the African National Congress (ANC), who stressed the unity of the country, caused the deaths of some 10,000 people and impeded the economic development of the province. After the 1994 national elections and the abolition of the apartheid system, Nelson Mandela appointed Buthelezi as minister of home affairs. More peaceful relationships between the IFP and ANC were achieved in the late 1990s, though a proposal in 1998 for a merger between them was not accepted.
Features Ndumu Game Reserve, Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, Sodwana Bay National Park, and Maple Lane Nature Reserve are features of the province. St Lucia National Park extends from the coral reefs
of the Indian Ocean north of Umfolozi River (where whales, dolphins, turtles, and crayfish are found), over forested sandhills to inland grasslands and swamps of Lake St Lucia, 324 sq km/125 sq mi (where reedbuck, buffalo, crocodiles, hippopotami, black rhinos, cheetahs, pelicans, flamingos, and storks are found). It is under threat from titanium mining.
Topography KwaZulu-Natal has 575 km/357 mi of coastline, and only two bays of importance, those of Durban and Richard's Bay. The country rises inland in a succession of terraces from the low and sandy coast, culminating in the Drakensberg Mountains. The province is crossed by the Tugela, Buffalo, Klip, Mooi and other rivers. There are 35 distinct rivers running into the Indian Ocean.
Climate The climate is subtropical on the coast but cooler inland. The winter half of the year begins in April and ends in September, with an average of 13 rainy days. The rainfall at Durban is about 1,010 mm/40 in and at Pietermaritzburg about 930 mm/37 in, most of which falls during the summer months; May, June, and July are comparatively dry. The prevailing wind is southeasterly in the summer months, as at the Cape of Good Hope. Occasionally the Sirocco from the northwest is felt. The oppressive heat of the summer is generally tempered by sudden and frequent thunderstorms.
Rural economy The leading crops for export are sugar, maize, and wattle bark; other crops include lucerne, sweet potatoes, peas, pumpkins, vegetables, citrus and subtropical fruits, cotton, sisal, and tobacco.
Natural resources and manufacturing Coal is mined in the Klip River, Vryheid, and Utrecht districts. Industries include oil-refining, pulp and paper, motor assembly, textiles, footwear and leather, aluminium, paint and chemicals, and food processing.
Languages spoken are Zulu (80%), English (15%), and Afrikaans (2%).