"eThekwini" redirects here. For the metropolitan municipality, see eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.
For other uses, see Durban (disambiguation).
iTheku (Zulu)
Clockwise from top left: Durban CBD, Ushaka Marine World, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and Durban City Hall.


Coat of arms

 Durban shown within KwaZulu-Natal

Coordinates: 29°53′S 31°03′E / 29.883°S 31.050°E / -29.883; 31.050Coordinates: 29°53′S 31°03′E / 29.883°S 31.050°E / -29.883; 31.050
Country South Africa
Province KwaZulu-Natal
Municipality eThekwini
Established 1880[1]
  Mayor Zandile Gumede (ANC)
  City 225.91 km2 (87.22 sq mi)
  Metro 2,292 km2 (885 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
  City 595,061
  Density 2,600/km2 (6,800/sq mi)
  Metro[2] 3,442,361
  Metro density 1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
  Black African 51.1%
  Coloured 8.6%
  Indian/Asian 24.0%
  White 15.3%
  Other 0.9%
First languages (2011)[2]
  English 49.8%
  Zulu 33.1%
  Xhosa 5.9%
  Afrikaans 3.6%
  Other 7.6%
Postal code (street) 4001
PO box 4000
Area code 031
GDP US$ 63.9 billion [3]
GDP per capita US$ 15,575[3]

Durban (Zulu: eThekwini, from itheku meaning "bay/lagoon") is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban's metropolitan municipality ranks third among the most populous urban areas in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. It forms part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches. The municipality, which includes neighbouring towns, has a population of almost 3.5 million,[4] making the combined municipality one of the biggest cities on the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent. The metropolitan land area of 2,292 square kilometres (885 sq mi) is comparatively larger than other South African cities, resulting in a somewhat lower population density of 1,513/km2 (3,920/sq mi).[5] It has the highest number of dollar millionaires added per year of any South African city with the number rising 200% between 2000 and 2014.[6]

In May 2015, Durban was officially recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Havana, Beirut, and Kuala Lumpur.[7]


Archaeological evidence from the Drakensberg mountains suggests that the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers since 100,000 BC. These people lived throughout the area of present-day KwaZulu-Natal until the expansion of Bantu farmers and pastoralists from the north saw their gradual displacement, incorporation or extermination. Little is known of the history of the first residents, as there is no written history of the area until it was sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who sailed parallel to the KwaZulu-Natal coast at Christmastide in 1497 while searching for a route from Europe to India. He named the area "Natal", or Christmas in Portuguese.[8]

First European settlers

The modern city of Durban dates from 1824, when a party of 25 men under British Lieutenant F. G. Farewell arrived from the Cape Colony and established a settlement on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal, near today's Farewell Square. Accompanying Farewell was an adventurer named Henry Francis Fynn. Fynn was able to befriend the Zulu King Shaka by helping him to recover from a stab wound he suffered in battle. As a token of Shaka's gratitude, he granted Fynn a "30-mile [50 km] strip of coast a hundred miles [160 km] in depth."[9]

During a meeting of 35 European residents in Fynn's territory on 23 June 1835, it was decided to build a capital town and name it "d'Urban" after Sir Benjamin d'Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony.[10]

Republic of Natalia

Main article: Battle of Congella

The Voortrekkers established the Republic of Natalia in 1838, with its capital at Pietermaritzburg.

Piet Retief, leader of the Voortrekkers in Natal, negotiated with the Zulu King, Dingane, in order to obtain land for their farming purposes. After negotiations were concluded, Dingane however reneged and had Retief and his entire entourage murdered. Thereafter the Zulus attacked and killed more than 500 Voortrekkers at Retief's laager. The Voortrekkers retaliated, and broke Dingane's power at the Battle of Blood River.

Continued tension between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus prompted the governor of the Cape Colony to dispatch a force under Captain Charlton Smith to establish British rule in Natal, for fear of losing British control in Port Natal. The force arrived on 4 May 1842 and built a fortification that was later to be The Old Fort. On the night of 23/24 May 1842 the British attacked the Voortrekker camp at Congella. The attack failed, and the British had to withdraw to their camp which was put under siege. A local trader Dick King and his servant Ndongeni were able to escape the blockade and rode to Grahamstown, a distance of 600 km (372.82 mi) in fourteen days to raise reinforcements. The reinforcements arrived in Durban 20 days later; the Voortrekkers retreated, and the siege was lifted.[11]

Fierce conflict with the Zulu population led to the evacuation of Durban, and eventually the Afrikaners accepted British annexation in 1844 under military pressure.

British colonial rule and the Union of South Africa

A British governor was appointed to the region and many settlers emigrated from Europe and the Cape Colony. The British established a sugar cane industry in the 1860s. Farm owners had a difficult time attracting Zulu labourers to work on their plantations, so the British brought thousands of indentured labourers from India on twenty five-year contracts. As a result of the importation of Indian labourers, Durban has the largest Asian community on the African continent, and has the largest Indian population outside of India.

Durban's historic regalia

When the Borough of Durban was proclaimed in 1854, the council had to procure a seal for official documents. The seal was produced in 1855 and was replaced in 1882. The new seal contained a coat of arms without helmet or mantling that combined the coats of arms of Sir Benjamin D’Urban and Sir Benjamin Pine. An application was made to register the coat of arms with the College of Arms in 1906, but this application was rejected on grounds that the design implied that D’Urban and Pine were husband and wife. Nevertheless, the coat of arms appeared on the council’s stationery from about 1912. The following year, a helmet and mantling was added to the council’s stationery and to the new city seal that was made in 1936. The motto reads "Debile principium melior fortuna sequitur"—"Better fortune follows a humble beginning".

The blazon of the arms registered by the South African Bureau of Heraldry and granted to Durban on 9 February 1979. The coat of arms fell into disuse with the re-organisation of the South African local government structure in 2000. The seal ceased to be used in 1995.[12][13]

Durban today

Durban looking north from atop the Moses Mabhida Stadium arch
Durban looking south from atop the Moses Mabhida Stadium arch

Today, Durban is the busiest container port in Africa.[14] The Golden Mile, developed as a welcoming tourist destination in the 1970s, as well as Durban at large, provide ample tourist attractions, particularly for people on holiday from Gauteng. The Golden Mile was redeveloped in late 2009 in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was resurfaced and widened between Ushaka Marine World and Moses Mabhida Stadium. Durban's most popular beaches are also located along the Golden Mile. The city is also a gateway to the national parks and historic sites of Zulu Kingdom and the Drakensberg.

Government and politics

With the end of apartheid, Durban was subject to restructuring of local government. The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality was formed in 1994 after South Africa's first multiracial elections, with its first mayor being Sipho Ngwenya. The mayor is elected for a five-year term; however Sipho Ngwenya only served two years. In 1996, the city was changed to Durban UniCity in July 1996 and to eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in 1999. In July 1996, Obed Mlaba was appointed mayor of Durban UniCity; in 1999 he was elected to mayor of the eThekwini municipality and re-elected in 2006. Following the May 2011 local elections, James Nxumalo, the former Speaker of the Council, was elected as the new mayor.On 23 August 2016 Zandile Gumede was elected as the new mayor [15]

The name of the Durban municipal government, prior to the post-apartheid reorganisations of municipalities, was the Durban Corporation or City of Durban'm.[16]

The Freedom of Expression Institute has reported that there have been problems with the Municipality allowing shack dwellers their legal right to march.[17]

Evictions and political controversy

The attack on Kennedy Road informal settlement by an armed mob in 2009 in Durban put local government under sustained scrutiny. It was reported by members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement that the attackers were affiliated with the local branch of the African National Congress and associated with the municipal councillor for the ward. It was claimed that the attack was carefully planned and sanctioned by the police department.[18][19] Academic research seems to confirm that the attackers self-identified as ANC members and that ANC leaders at Municipal and Provincial level later provided public sanction for the attack.[20][21] Following the attack AbM and the KRDC (democratically elected structures)[20] were removed from the settlement[20] and the provincial government replaced these structures with an unelected ANC affiliated Community Policing Forum.[20] The attacks and forced removal of AbM from the settlement garnered national and international condemnation.[22][23][24][25] [26]

The government has been under sustained controversy for their eviction of shackdwellers in the Cato Crest area despite a court interdict ordering them not to do so.[27][28] The General Council of the Bar has also expressed concern over the evictions.[29]


Durban and its suburbs are hilly, except for locations in and around the central business district, the harbour and Umhlanga Rocks.

View of Durban from Innes Road
Panorama of Durban beach from Ushaka pier


Durban has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with hot and humid summers and pleasantly warm and dry winters, which are snow and frost-free. Durban has an annual rainfall of 1,009 millimetres (39.7 in). The average temperature in summer ranges around 24 °C (75 °F), while in winter the average temperature is 17 °C (63 °F). Sunrise in Durban on summer solstice occurs at 04:45 and sunset at 19:00; on winter solstice, sunrise is at 06:30 and sunset at 17:20. The rainy season is in summer which begins in November, ending in mid-April. Summers are sunny, hot and humid during the day, but are relieved by afternoon or evening thunderstorms. The city is also occasionally affected by tropical storms and cyclones during the cyclone season, which is from 15 November to 30 April. Winters, which are from June to August, are generally warm and sunny.

Climate data for Durban (1961−1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36.2
Average high °C (°F) 27.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.1
Average low °C (°F) 21.1
Record low °C (°F) 14.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 134
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 15.2 12.9 12.6 9.2 6.8 4.5 4.9 7.1 11.0 15.1 16.0 15.0 130.3
Average relative humidity (%) 80 80 80 78 76 72 72 75 77 78 79 79 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 184.0 178.8 201.6 206.4 223.6 224.9 230.4 217.0 173.3 169.4 166.1 189.9 2,365.4
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[30]
Source #2: NOAA (sun, extremes and humidity)[31]


Geographical distribution of home languages in eThekwini metropole
  No language dominant

Durban is ethnically diverse, with a cultural richness of mixed beliefs and traditions. Zulus form the largest single ethnic group. It has a large number of people of British descent and has the most Indians of any city outside India. The influence of Indians in Durban has been significant, bringing with them a variety of cuisine, culture and religion. Social cohesion in South Africa's third largest city is fairly strong despite a negative outlook from a few individuals.[32]In the Apartheid regime, different groups had to stay in certain areas although black gardeners and maids often lived on their employer's property. These boundaries have slowly diminished since the end of Apartheid. Nevertheless, Black townships tend to remain almost completely black. Most traditional white areas have seen a significant influx of more affluent blacks and Indians.

In the years following the end of Apartheid there was a population boom as Africans were allowed to move into the city. The population growth was 2.34% between 1996 and 2001. This led to shanty towns forming around which were often demolished. Between 2001 and 2011 the population growth slowed down to 1.08% per year and shanty towns have become less common as the government builds low income housing.[33] Durban has seen substantial urban sprawl and circa 1930 the entire settlement only consisted of central Durban, the Berea and the Bluff. The white population has not increased much since that time but many have left this area and moved to more distant suburbs such as Umhlanga which has become a major centre for companies.[34]

The population of the city of Durban and central suburbs such as Durban North, Durban South and the Berea increased 10.9% between 2001 and 2011 from 536,644 to 595,061.[35][36] The number of Black Africans increased while the number of people in all the other racial groups decreased. Black Africans increased from 34.9% to 51.1%. Indian or Asians decreased from 27.3% to 24.0%. Whites decreased from 25.5% to 15.3%. Coloureds decreased from 10.26% to 8.59%. A new racial group, Other, was included in the 2011 census at 0.93%.

The city’s demographics indicate that 68% of the population are of working age, and 38% of the people in Durban are under the age of 19 years.[37]


There were 1,237 homicides in the Durban metropolitan area (Ethekwini) in 2015. The murder rate in 2015 was 35.9 per 100,000 people (for comparison, Detroit had a murder rate of 43.9 per 100,000 people in 2015).[38] The murder rate for the whole of South Africa was 33 per 100,000.[39][40] Today, Durban is more dangerous than Johannesburg but much safer than Cape Town which had a murder rate of 65.53 per 100,000 in 2014. This is a radical shift from previous decades when Johannesburg was the most dangerous of these cities and Cape Town the safest.[41]

Criminals usually avoid targeting tourists because they know that the police response will be greater.[42]

There was a period of intense violence in the 1990s and the Durban area recorded a murder rate of 83 per 100,000 in 1999.[43] The murder rate dropped rapidly in the 2000s and has been slowly increasing in the 2010s. Durban is one of the main drug trafficking routes for drugs exiting and entering Sub-Saharan Africa. The drug trade has increased significantly over the past 20 years.[44]


Durban Yacht club and city in the background

The Durban Metropolitan Area (DMA) has a large and diversified economy with strong manufacturing, tourism, transportation, finance and government sectors. Its coastal location and large port gives it comparative advantage over many other centers in South Africa for export-related industry. Durban's subtropical climate, warm marine current and culturally diverse population has drawn in tourists.

Durban remains the third richest city in South Africa. In 2015, a report by AfrAsia Bank and research company New World Wealth listed Durban among the top cities in Africa with the most millionaires. Durban placed 7th with 2700 millionaires [45]

The city has revitalised its inner areas with the new Durban Point Waterfront development south-east of downtown sporting uShaka Marine World and many new residential and leisure developments. Efforts by the city to clean up the business district, new developments in Point and the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium north of the CBD (Moses Mabidha Stadium) has aided in the economic turnaround. In 2010, Durban was rated as a Gamma-level global city.

Durban's economic contribution to the region

Natal cotton field (Durban, South Africa) (c.1885).

The Durban Metropolitan Area is the main economic driver in KwaZulu-Natal, contributing over half of the province's output, employment and income. In national terms, Durban is the second most important economic complex after Gauteng, accounting for 15% of national output, 14% of household income and 11% of national employment. Regional development corridors link Durban northwards to Richards Bay and Maputo, and westward to Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg.

Military facilities and units

The South African Army's Natal Command was located in Durban for many years. From August 1974 84 Motorised Brigade was based at the Old Fort Road Military Base in Durban. Many of its units were located in Durban. These included the Durban Light Infantry located nearby in their historic buildings within the Greyville Racecourse, the Durban Regiment, 84 Signal Unit SACS, 15 Maintenance Unit, 19 Field Engineer Regiment SAEC, and Natal Field Artillery, all based in the Old Fort Road Military Base. Natal Mounted Rifles, or NMR as it is better known, has their HQ a little further north just across from the Kings Park rugby stadium and the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Umvoti Mounted Rifles are based across the freeway from the Edgewood campus in the old Highway Command grounds. The Bluff Military Base houses a number of units including a sickbay and the local JOC. The Air Force has a base at the old Durban International Airport, which is still the home of 15 Squadron, a helicopter unit. The Navy has maintained a small presence on Salisbury Island in the Durban harbour, the base is being renovated and expanded as a home for the Navy's offshore patrol flotilla.

Informal sector

Durban has a number of informal and semi-formal street vendors. The Warwick Junction Precinct is home to a number of street markets, with vendors selling goods from traditional medicince, to clothing and spices.[46]

The city's treatment of shack dwellers has been strongly criticised by a report from the United Nations linked Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions[47] and there has also been strong criticism of the city's treatment of street traders,[48][49] street children[50] and sex workers.[51] Durban is known throughout the world for its strain of marijuana called 'durban poison' which was developed in the late 1970s. It is one of the most common strains sold by car guards and street dealers throughout eThekweni.[52]

Civil society

There are a number of prominent civil society organisations based in Durban. These include: Abahlali baseMjondolo (shackdwellers') movement,[53] the Diakonia Council of Churches, the Right2Know Campaign, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and the South African Unemployed Peoples' Movement.[54][55][56][57][58][59]

Visitor attractions

Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, Durban

Dining and entertainment areas

Nature and wildlife


Shopping centres

Stadia and sports facilities

Communications and media

View of Durban harbor

Two major English-language daily newspapers are published in Durban, both part of the Independent Newspapers, the national group owned by Irish media magnate Tony O'Reilly. These are the morning editions of The Mercury and the afternoon Daily News. Like most news media in South Africa, they have seen declining circulations in recent years. Major Zulu language papers comprise Isolezwe ( Independent Newspapers), UmAfrika and Ilanga, the latter being seen to be politically aligned to the IFP. Independent Newspapers also publish Post, a newspaper aimed largely at the Indian community. A national Sunday paper, the Sunday Tribune is also published by Independent Newspapers as is the Independent on Saturday.

A variety of free weekly suburban newspapers are published by the Caxton Group and there are numerous "community" newspapers, some of which are short lived and others which have had stable tenure. The tabloid newspaper group situated in North Coast Road, Durban has also added to the variety of community newspapers. They have ten newspaper publications, three of them in the isiZulu language. Community newspapers target specific areas or zones rooting out and exposing community issues like a magnifying glass. These papers rely solely on advertising revenue and are delivered to each house hold irrespective of race or wealth. Many journalists gain experience at these papers before moving on to other major national publications.

A major city initiative is the eZasegagasini Metro Gazette.[61] It is the official newspaper of the eThekwini Municipality, through which ratepayers and residents are kept informed about local projects, programmes and activities. It is also a forum for readers' views. Published fortnightly, the newspaper hits the streets on Friday mornings, with 400 000 copies distributed in English and Zulu. The publication is an in-house product of the municipality's Communications Department.

The national broadcaster, the SABC, has regional offices in Durban and operates two major stations there. The Zulu language Ukhozi FM has a huge national listenership of over 6.67 million, which makes it the second largest radio station in the world. The SABC also operates Radio Lotus, which is aimed at South Africans of Indian origin. The other SABC national stations have smaller regional offices in Durban, as does TV for news links and sports broadcasts. A major English language radio station, East Coast Radio,[62] operates out of Durban and is owned by SA media giant Kagiso Media. There are a number of smaller stations which are independent, having been granted licences by ICASA, the national agency charged with the issue of broadcast licences.

Sports teams and stadiums

Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban in 2009
Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban

Durban was successful in its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.[63]

Durban is home to the Rut Sharks, who compete in the domestic Currie Cup competition as well as in the international Super Rugby competition. The Sharks' home ground is the 56,000 capacity Kings Park Stadium, sometimes referred to as the Shark Tank.

The city is home to two clubs in the Premier Soccer LeagueAmaZulu, and Golden Arrows. AmaZulu play most of their home games at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Golden Arrows play most of their home games at the King Zwelithini Stadium in the suburb of Umlazi, but sometimes play some of their matches at Moses Mabhida Stadium or Chatsworth Stadium.

Durban is host to the KwaZulu-Natal cricket team, who play as the Dolphins when competing in the Sunfoil Series. Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes, Lance Klusener, Barry Richards, Andrew Hudson, Hashim Amla, Vince van der Bijl, Kevin Pietersen, Dale Benkenstein and David Miller are all players or past players of the Natal cricket team. International cricketers representing them include Malcolm Marshall, Dwayne Bravo and Graham Onions. Cricket in Durban is played at Kingsmead cricket ground.

Durban hosted matches in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. In 2007 the city hosted nine matches, including a semi-final, as part of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. The 2009 IPL season was played in South Africa, and Durban was selected as a venue. 2010 saw the city host six matches, including a semi-final, in the 2010 Champions League Twenty20.

Durban was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and A1GP held a race on a street circuit in Durban from 2006-2008. Durban hosted the 123rd IOC Session in July 2011.

The city is home to Greyville Racecourse, a major Thoroughbred horse racing venue which annually hosts a number of prestigious races including the country's premier event, the July Handicap, and the premier staying event in South Africa, the Gold Cup. Clairwood racecouse, south of the city, was a popular racing venue for many years, but was sold by the KZN racing authority in 2012.[64][65]

A professional tennis venue is located at Westridge Park near the Berea. Durban has facilities for water polo, hockey and other sports. Durban and the surrounding areas are also well patronised by professional and amateur golfers, with the golf course at Durban Country Club near the CBD being particularly well known.

An Olympic-standard swimming pool is found in the Kings Park Sporting Precinct. Durban is home to Chad le Clos, the 200 meter butterfly Olympic champion of 2012. The outstanding beach front has played host to numerous surfing competitions such as the Gunston 500 competition and the related Ocean Action festival. Beach volleyball is regularly played on local beaches and powerboat racing has taken place in the harbour.



King Shaka International Airport

King Shaka International Airport services both domestic and international flights, with regularly scheduled services to Dubai, Istanbul, Doha, Addis Ababa, Mauritius, Harare, Lusaka, Windhoek, Gaborone and Maputo, as well as eight domestic destinations. Air Seychelles will start flying to Durban from 30 March 2017.[66] The airport's position forms part of the Golden Triangle between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is important for convenient travel and trade between these three major South African cities. The airport opened in May 2010. King Shaka International Airport handled 4.93 million passengers in 2015/2016, up 9 percent from 2014/2015. King Shaka International was constructed at La Mercy, about 36 kilometres (22 mi) north of central Durban. All operations at Durban International Airport have been transferred to King Shaka International as of 1 May 2010, with plans for flights to Singapore, London, Mumbai, Australia, Kigali, Luanda, Lilongwe and Nairobi.

Durban International Airport was used by the South African Defence Force during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and as a secondary airport to handle overflow. The airport serves as a major gateway for travellers to KwaZulu-Natal and the Drakensberg.


Durban harbour

Durban has a long tradition as a port city. The Port of Durban, formerly known as the Port of Natal, is one of the few natural harbours between Port Elizabeth and Maputo, and is also located at the beginning of a particular weather phenomenon which can cause extremely violent seas. These two features made Durban an extremely busy port of call for ship repairs when the port was opened in the 1840s. Durban is now the busiest port in South Africa, as well as the third busiest container port in the Southern Hemisphere.

The modern Port of Durban grew around trade from Johannesburg, as the industrial and mining capital of South Africa is not located on any navigable body of water. Thus, products being shipped from Johannesburg outside of South Africa must be loaded onto trucks or railways and transported to Durban. The Port of Maputo was unavailable for use until the early 1990s due to civil war and an embargo against South African products. There is now an intense rivalry between Durban and Maputo for shipping business.

Durban has a very popular cruise industry. MSC Cruises bases the MSC Sinfonia in Durban from November to April every year. Durban is the most popular cruise hub in Southern Africa. Cruise destinations from Durban on the MSC Sinfonia include Mozambique, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and other domestic destinations such as Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Many other ships cruise through Durban every year, including some of the worlds biggest, such as the RMS Queen Mary 2, the biggest ocean liner in the world.

Naval Base Durban on Salisbury Island (now joined to the mainland and part of the Port of Durban), was established as a naval base during the Second World War. It was downgraded in 2002 to a naval station. In 2012 a decision was made to renovate and expand the facilities back up to a full naval base to accommodate the South African Navy's offshore patrol flotilla.[67] In December 2015 it was redesignated Naval Base Durban.[68]


Durban featured the first operating steam railway in South Africa when the Natal Railway Company started operating a line between the Point and the city of Durban in 1860.[69]

Durban is well-served by railways due to its role as the largest trans-shipment point for goods from the interior of South Africa. Shosholoza Meyl, the passenger rail service of Spoornet, operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Durban: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle, and a weekly service to and from Cape Town via Kimberley and Bloemfontein. These trains terminate at Durban railway station.

Metrorail operates a commuter rail service in Durban and the surrounding area. The Metrorail network runs from Durban Station outwards as far as Stanger on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato Ridge inland.

A high-speed rail link has been proposed, between Johannesburg and Durban.[70]


N3 freeway on its approach to Durban's CBD, with N2–N3 stack interchange in the foreground

The city's main position as a port of entry onto the southern African continent has led to the development of national roads around it. The N3 Western Freeway, which links Durban with the economic hinterland of Gauteng, heads west out of the city. The N2 Outer Ring Road links Durban with the Eastern Cape to the south, and Mpumalanga in the north. The Western Freeway is particularly important because freight is shipped by truck to and from the Witwatersrand for transfer to the port.

The N3 Western Freeway starts in the central business district and heads west under Tollgate Bridge and through the suburbs of Sherwood and Mayville. The EB Cloete Interchange (which is informally nicknamed the Spaghetti Junction) lies to the east of Westville, allowing for transfer of traffic between the N2 Outer Ring Road and the Western Freeway.

The N2 Outer Ring Road cuts through the city from the north coast to the south coast. It provides a vital link to the coastal towns (such as Scottburgh and Stanger) that rely on Durban.

Durban also has a system of freeway and dual arterial metropolitan routes, which connect the sprawling suburbs that lie to the north, west and south of the city. The M4 exists in two segments. The northern segment, named the Ruth First Highway, starts as an alternative highway at Ballito where it separates from the N2. It passes through the northern suburbs of Umhlanga and La Lucia where it becomes a dual carriageway and ends at the northern edge of the CBD. The southern segment of the M4, the Albert Lutuli [71] Highway, starts at the southern edge of the CBD, connecting through to the old, decommissioned Durban International Airport, where it once again reconnects with the N2 Outer Ring Road.

The M7 connects the southern industrial basin with the N3 and Pinetown via Queensburgh via the N2. The M19 connects the northern suburbs with Pinetown via Westville.

The M13 is an untolled alternative to the N3 Western Freeway (which is tolled at Mariannhill). It also feeds traffic through Gillitts, Kloof, and Westville. In the Westville area it is called the Jan Smuts Highway, while in the Kloof area it is named the Arthur Hopewell Highway.

A number of streets in Durban were renamed in the late 2000s to the names of figures related to the anti-apartheid struggle, persons related to liberation movements around the world (including Che Guevara, Kenneth Kaunda and SWAPO), and others associated with the governing African National Congress.[72] A few street names were changed in the first round of renaming, followed by a larger second round.[73] The renamings provoked incidents of vandalism,[74] as well as protests from opposition parties[75] and members of the public.[76]


The People Mover is a tourist-oriented bus service which runs every 15 minutes and consists of three routes within the central business district and along the beachfront, connecting various attractions.[77]

Several companies run long-distance bus services from Durban to the other cities in South Africa. Buses have a long history in Durban. Most of them have been run by Indian owners since the early 1930s. Privately owned buses which are not subsidised by the government also service the communities. Buses operate in all areas of the eThekwini Municipality. Since 2003 buses have been violently taken out of the routes and bus ranks by taxi operators.[78] This has brought bus operations into disarray. Bus owners have bought into taxi operations using their bus permits to make a living.

Durban was previously served by the Durban trolleybus system from 1935 to 1968; before that, it was served by the Durban tramway network from 1880 to 1949.


Durban has two kinds of taxis: metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike in many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city to solicit fares and instead must be called and ordered to a specific location. A number of companies service the Durban and surrounding regions. These taxis can also be called upon for airport transfers, point to point pickups and shuttles.

Mini bus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private cars.[79][80][81] With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often filled over their legal passenger allowance, making for high casualty rates when they are involved in accidents. Minibuses are generally owned and operated in fleets, and inter-operator violence flares up from time to time, especially as turf wars over lucrative taxi routes occur.[82]


Durban is known for its iconic Zulu rickshaw pullers navigating throughout the city. These colourful characters are famous for their giant, vibrant hats and costumes. Although they have been a mode of transportation since the early 1900s, they have been displaced by other forms of motorised transport, and the 25 or so remaining rickshaws mostly cater to tourists.[83]

Educational institutions

Private schools

Public schools

Tertiary institutions

Memorial Tower Building, Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Howard College Building, Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Durban is twinned with:[86]

Other twins

See also


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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Main Place Durban". Census 2011.
  3. 1 2 "Global city GDP 2014". Brookings Institution. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
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  56. Churches want justice
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  59. No mercy, no grants, says Mkhize
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  87. Le Port est jumelé à quatre villes portuaires (French)
  88. Villes de Durban (eThekwini en zulu) et du Port sont jumelées depuis le 4 novembre 2005 (French)

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Durban.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Durban.
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