KwaZulu-Natal is located in the south-east of South Africa bordering the Indian Ocean. It also borders on the Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces, as well as the Kingdom of Lesotho, Kingdom of Swaziland and Mozambique. The ‘Garden Province’ of South Africa stretches from the lush subtropical east coast washed by the warm Indian Ocean, to the sweeping savannah in the east and the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range in the west.

It covers an area of 94 361 km², the third-smallest in the country, and has a population of over ten million people, making it the second most populous province in South Africa. The capital is Pietermaritzburg. The largest city is Durban. Other major cities and towns include Richards Bay, Port Shepstone, Newcastle, Estcourt, Ladysmith and Richmond.

The province’s manufacturing sector is the largest in terms of contribution to GDP. Richards 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. The province has undergone rapid industrialisation owing to its abundant water supply and labour resources.

Agriculture is also central to the economy. The sugar cane plantations along the coastal belt are the mainstay of KwaZulu-Natal’s agriculture. The coastal belt is also a large producer of subtropical fruit, while the farmers inland concentrate on vegetable, dairy and stock farming. Another source of income is forestry in the areas around Vryheid, Eshowe, Richmond, Harding and Ngome.

KwaZulu-Natal is divided into one metropolitan municipality (eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality [Durban}) and 10 district municipalities, which are further subdivided into 50 local municipalities.


02_Sugar-Terminus-at-night_Maydon-WharfThe container terminal at Maydon Wharf at night
Author: A.W. Dollenberg

eThekwini Metropolitan: eThekwini (Durban) is the largest city in this province and the third-largest city in the country. Its land area is comparatively larger than that of other South African cities and is topographically hilly, with many gorges and ravines and almost no true coastal plain.

It is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city and is known as the home of Africa’s best-managed, busiest port. The world-class International Convention Centre in Durban has hosted a historic line-up of events, including conferences on a global scale. Durban has a turbulent history dating from ivory hunters in the 1820s and their conflict with the local Zulu monarchs. The province has the largest number of battlefields. It is also a major centre of tourism because of the City’s warm, subtropical climate and extensive beaches.

The value of the domestic tourism economic impact on the region’s GDP is estimated to be 8% per annum. The hospitality industry consists of many fine hotels, nightspots, shopping malls, ethnic attractions, traditional villages, craft markets, sparkling dams, and big-game parks.

Cities/Towns: Amalanga • Amanzimtoti • Amaotana • Berea • Blackburn • Bluff • Cato Ridge • Cele /Vumengazi • Chatsworth • Cibane  • Clermont • Clifton Canyon • Craigieburn • Dassenhoek • Desainager • Durban • Durban International Airport • Durban North • Durban South • Emalangeni • Embo /Nksa Isimahla• Emona  • Ethekwini • Everton • Ezembeni • Folweni • Gcumisa • Genazzano • Gillitts • Golokodo-Ensimbini • Hambanathi • Hillcrest • Ilanga • Ilfracombe • Illovo North • Illovo South • Inanda • Inchanga • Iqadi • Isipingo • Isipingo Beach • Kingsburgh • Klaarwater • Kloof • KwaDabeka • KwaMashu • KwaNdengezi • La Mercy • Lotus Park • Luganda • Luthuli/Umnini Trust • Magabeni • Malagazi • Mangangeni/Vumazonke • Maphephetha • Mawotana • Mawothi • Molweni • Mount Edgecombe • Mount Moreland • Mpolo • Mpumalanga • New Germany • Newlands East • Newlands West • Ngcolosi • Ngqungqulu • Ntuzuma • Oceans • Outer West Durban • Phoenix • Pinetown • Prospecton • Qadi • Qiniselani Manyuswa • Queensburgh • Redcliffe • Roseneath • Sapref • Shallcross • Sobonakhona • Thoyana • Tongaat • Tongaat Beach • Tshelimnyama • Umbumbulu • Umdloti • Umgababa • Umhlanga • Umkomaas • Umlazi • Verulam • Waterfall • Westbrook • Westville • Ximba

Majuba Mountain – Author: D. Sutcliffe

Amajuba District: The District is located in the north-western corner of the province and comprises three local municipalities.

The main transportation routes linking the district to its surrounds are the N11, which is the alternative route to Johannesburg from Durban, and the rail line, which is the main line from the Durban harbour to Gauteng. The R34 also bisects the district in an east-west direction and provides a linkage from the port city of Richards Bay to the interior.

Cities/Towns: Charlestown • Dannhauser • Hattingspruit • Newcastle • Utrecht

05_Mvuleni-(Bamboo)-Mountain-on-the-road-to-Drakensberg-Gardens-Hotel_MCooksonMvuleni (Bamboo) Mountain on the road to
Drakensberg Gardens Hotel – Author: M. Cookson

Harry Gwala District Municipality (previously Sisonke District Municipality): The district is situated south of the province. The seat of Harry Gwala District is Ixopo.

The municipality is surrounded by uMgungundlovu to the north-east, Ugu to the south-east, OR Tambo to the south, Alfred Nzo to the south-west, the Kingdom of Lesotho to the north-west and uThukela to the north. It is also bordered by the Drakensberg Mountains, which form a 200 km-long World Heritage Site.

Economically, the most prominent employment sectors are agriculture, construction and small-scale manufacturing. The district is known for its progressive farming methods. The unspoilt natural environment has high ecotourism and adventure-tourism potential. Harry Gwala has an abundance of high quality soils, high altitude, abundant water, and climatic extremes, which makes the area suitable for dairy farming. A significant portion of dairy consumed in KZN is produced within the district.

Cities/Towns: Creighton • Himeville • Ixopo • Kokstad • Underberg • uMzimkhulu

06_Post-Mr-Price-Pro-Surfing-Contest---Surfer-taking-to-the-sky,-Ballito1Post Mr. Price Pro Surfing Contest – Surfer taking to the sky,
Ballito Bay – Author: J.A. Forbes

iLembe District: The District is situated on the east coast of the province and is the smallest of the province’s district municipalities. The majority of the rural inland areas are tribal authority areas, characterised by subsistence farming.

iLembe consists of four local municipalities located between Durban and Richards Bay. The town straddles the Tugela River, the traditional border between former Colonial Natal and the Kingdom of Zululand, the site of historical and cultural events. The seat of iLembe is KwaDukuza (previously Stanger).

At the border of the district is the Unicity of Durban in the immediate south, which is linked by the coastal highway to Richards Bay in the north, giving it access to both harbours for trade purposes. It is also a leading place for the tourism industry because of its rich Zulu Kingdom heritage, as it was named in recognition of King Shaka.

Cities/Towns: Dolphin Coast/Ballito • Isithebe • KwaDukuza (Stanger) • Mandeni • Ndwedwe • Nkwazi/Zinkwazi Beach

Panoramic view of Margate Beachfront – Author: DJ

Ugu District: The District lies south of Durban, surrounded by a coastline of 112 km. The district is made up of six local municipalities all of which have played a critical role in the cultivation of the district’s economy.

The Hibiscus Coast Municipality is the ultimate economy booster due to its location. Commercial agriculture in the district produces one-fifth of all bananas consumed in South Africa, with numerous companies successfully exporting these and other products to some of the most exclusive packers in the United Kingdom.

The Ugu District also prides itself as one of the leading district municipalities in the KwaZulu-Natal province for winning two major technical excellence awards. The municipality won the 2011 South African Institute of Civil Engineers Pietermaritzburg Branch Award for Technical Excellence in the design and construction of the uMzimkhulu Off-Channel Storage Dam, and came third as the Provincial Best Performer in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of Blue Drop municipal scores, thereby earning four Blue Drop Excellence Awards for the municipality’s Water Treatment Works. The district and its communities are the proud owners of Blue Flag Status beaches, which have marked tourism as a major economic cultivator.

The municipality has become a destination of note for tourists through its warm ambiance and the expansion of its economy and infrastructure. The improvement of its infrastructure, education, health and recreational facilities contributes immensely to its adventurous lifestyle. The nurturing of the local economy highly features tourism and agriculture, and includes the district’s very own Ugu Jazz Festival. It also includes other renowned annual activities, such as the Africa Bike Week, which have gained momentum worldwide.

Cities/Towns: Harding • Hibberdene • Margate • Pennington • Port Edward • Port Shepstone • Scottburgh/Umzinto North • Southbroom

Panoramic view over Pietermaritzburg – Author: M. Paine

uMgungundlovu District: The District is located in the Midlands of the province. The main city of the area is Pietermaritzburg, which are both the capital city and the legislative capital of KwaZulu-Natal. uMgungundlovu is a water services authority and also a water service provider that continually strives to maintain its Blue Drop and Green Drop Status.

The district offers distinguished education facilities and is a retirement mecca for senior citizens. It also offers excellent sporting, commercial and health facilities. It is an important industrial, timber, dairy and agricultural hub that has a modern, sophisticated infrastructure with easy access to airports, the N3 arterial, and railway stations.

Cities/Towns: Ashburton • Camperdown • Cool Air • Dalton • Hilton • Howick • Impendle • Mooi River • New Hanover • Pietermaritzburg • Richmond • Wartburg

09_Sunset-on-Lake-St-Lucia_DJSunset on Lake St. Lucia – Author: DJ

uMkhanyakude District: The District is located in the far north of the province and is the second-largest district in KwaZulu-Natal. It shares its borders with Swaziland and Mozambique, as well as with the districts of Zululand and uThungulu. The Isimangaliso Wetland Park, formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, encompasses the entire coastline.

‘uMkhanyakude’ refers to the Acacia Xanthophloea fever tree and means ‘that shows light from afar’. The name reflects both the uniqueness of its people and their hospitality, as well as the biodiversity and conservation history that the region is very proud of.

Cities/Towns: Hlabisa • Hluhluwe • Ingwavuma • Jozini • Mbazwana • Mkuze • Mtubatuba • St. Lucia

uMzinyathi District: The District is located in the north central areas of the province. The municipality is bordered in the north by Amajuba Municipality, in the west by uThukela Municipality, in the south-west by uMgungundlovu Municipality, in the south-east by iLembe Municipality, and in the east by uThungulu Municipality.

The district lies between the main N3 Corridor between Durban and Gauteng and the Coastal Corridor, running along the east coast.

The more developed urban areas include Dundee and Greytown, which can be viewed as a strong regional centre with substantial commercial and agricultural activity. The seat of uMzinyathi is Dundee.

Cities/Towns: Dundee • Glencoe • Greytown • Kranskop • Nquthu • Pomeroy

Bergville – Spioenkop Dam from above – Author: D. Prinsloo

uThukela District: The District is located on the western boundary of the province and derives its name from one of the major rivers in KwaZulu-Natal, the uThukela River, which rises from the Drakensberg Mountains and supplies water to a large portion of KZN, as well as Gauteng. The district is bordered by three other district municipalities: Amajuba, uMzinyathi and uMgungundlovu.

It is predominately rural, with three of the five local municipalities being rural-based. This municipality is characterised by socio-economic indicators such as low revenue base, poor infrastructure, limited access to services, and low economic base.

Cities/Towns: Bergville • Cathkin Park • Colenso • Estcourt • Ladysmith • Van Reenen • Weenen • Winterton

Zulu Girl in Eshowe – Author: J. Lecleire, Belgium

uThungulu District: The District is located in the north-eastern region of the province and covers the area from KwaGingindlovu (previously Gingindlovu) in the south, to the uMfolozi River in the north, and inland to Nkandla. It has the third-highest population in the province.

The N2 highway links the district to other significant economic centres such as Durban and Johannesburg. It also offers a direct route to Maputo in Mozambique. The development of the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone is boosting economic activity and attracting international investors.

Cities/Towns: Empangeni • Eshowe • Heatonville • KwaGingindlovu • KwaMbonambi • Melmoth • Mtunzini • Nkandla • Ntambanana • Richards Bay

13_ngome_DJNgome Landscape – Author: DJ

Zululand District: The District is situated in the north-eastern part of the province. It is primarily a rural district. About half the area falls under the jurisdiction of traditional authorities, while the remainder is privately owned commercial farms or protected areas.

Vryheid and Ulundi are two urban centres of note in the district, respectively serving as a regional service and a regional and provincial administrative centre. The town of Vryheid is a commercial and business hub, while Ulundi Town is mainly an administrative centre and also the headquarters of the Zululand District Municipality.

Louwsburg • Nongoma • Paulpietersburg • Pongola • Ulundi • Vryheid

Source:  Information extracted from