Principal port of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and of the republic; population (2001) 3,090,100. Oil-refining, machinery, soap, paint, and fertilizers are important industries in the city. Exports include coal, chemicals, steel, granite, wood products, sugar, fruit, grain, rice, and wool; imports include heavy machinery and mining equipment. With the availability of year-round sea bathing, Durban is also one of the leading holiday resorts of South Africa and is served by an international airport.
Durban was founded as Port Natal in 1824 by Lieutenant F G Farewell, who secured a cession of land from the Zulu chief Shaka. It was renamed in 1835 after General Benjamin d'Urban (1777-1849), lieutenant governor of the eastern district of Cape Colony 1834-37.
The third-largest city in South Africa, and the commercial centre of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban lies in a tidal bay and serves the urban complex of the Witwatersrand. The enclosed harbour has an area of 15 sq km/6 sq mi and 10 km/6 mi of quays. A modern harbour terminal was opened in 1962. The average depth of water alongside the commercial wharves is 9- 11 m/29-36 ft, but at some the depth is 12-13 m/39-43 ft. The port handles 5,000 commercial vessels per year, bringing in 26 million tonnes of cargo. A major new port was opened at Richard's Bay in 1972 with quays to accommodate vessels of up to 250,000 tonnes.
In addition to Durban's importance as a port there is considerable industry in and around the city, including engineering, ship repairing, motor assembly, sawmilling, flour milling, sugar refining, oil refining, and the
manufacture of textiles and chemicals. A great variety of subtropical fruits are grown locally. There is an international airport at Runiav, 13 km/8 mi to the south.
Near the city are the University of Durban-Westville (1961) and the University of Natal (established in 1949 from Natal University College, founded in 1910), which is divided between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
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