In case you did not know, Durban is one of the biggest cities in South Africa. The city was one of the 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities. I have not been in this city in more than 16 years, even though its only a 1 hour flight from Johannesburg. I’m sure that I will visit this city again someday.
There’s probably a lot that you don’t know about Durban, but today my aim is to change that.
Here are 20 Facts you might not have known about Durban
1. The site was first visited in 1497 by Portugeuse explorer Vasco da Gama, who named it Rio de Natal. Natal means “Christmas” in Portuguese.
2. British Colonization of the region started in 1824. The settlement was called Port Natal. In 1835 the city was renamed to Durban (named after then Cape Colony governor Sir Benjamin d’Urban).
3. Today Durban has a population of +/- 3.7 million people (according to 2018 sensus reports) and is the 3rd largest city in South Africa.
4. The city has the busiest container port in Africa.
5. Durban’s harbor (Port Natal) is the 9th largest harbor in the world. The harbour handles 31,4 million tons of cargo annually.
6. The Durban International Airport was decommissioned in 2010. The newly built King Shaka International Airport opened it’s doors in May 2010 (just in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup). The new airport is situated 35 km North of the city in the La Mercy region.
7. Persons of Indian / Pakistani decent make up 40% of Durban’s population.
8. The Gateway shopping center is the 2nd largest shopping mall in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere and is situated in the Northern suburb of Umhlanga.
The Gateway shopping center was modeled on the Mall of America, has more than 350 stores and more than 70 restaurants, 18 movie theatres, 6 Nouveau Cinemas, an IMAX theatre, a theme park, a 4000 square meter skate park (designed by Tony Hawk), the world’s highest indoor climbing rock and the highest fountain in Africa.
9. Ushaka Marine World is the world’s 5th largest aquarium.
10. The spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Ghandi began his political journey here. The Inanda Heritage Route takes visitors through sites significant to the life and legacy of the spiritual leader, as well as places linked to South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.
11. This iconic Moses Mabida stadium was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and has since become a prominent landmark in Durban. It offers visitors the chance to take a SkyCar ride to the top, providing stunning views of the city and the coastline. The stadium can seat 70000 people.
The Big Rush is a swing that is connected 220 meters above the stadium pitch to the arch. It was rated the world’s largest swing by the Guinness Book of Records since 14 May 2011.
12. The historic Jumuah Musjid Mosque in Grey Street was the first mosque built in Durban, and it’s the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. The mosque has space for 7000 people.
13. On the 12th of May 1930, Durban’s first traffic lights were installed at the intersection of Pine and Field Streets.
14. A Municipal by-law prohibiting the wearing of bikinis on the city’s beaches was repealed in December 1960.
15. Sugar refining is one of Durban’s main industries. South Africa produces 19.9 million tons of sugar cane a year and most of it comes from KwaZulu-Natal.
16. The Durban Botanic Gardens is the city’s oldest public institution and Africa’s oldest surviving botanical gardens. The gardens have been around since 1851 and covers an area of 15 hectares (37 acres).
17. Kingsmead (Durban’s Cricket Ground) has capacity for 25,000 spectactors. 1923 was the year that the ground hosted its first test match (between South Africa and England). On the 19th of September 2007 Kingsmead witnessed Yuvraj Singh’s iconic six consecutive sixes off Stuart Broad’s over in the World Twenty20 match between India and England. This was the fastest fifty ever in any form of cricket.
18. Durban’s King Park stadium was originally built with a capacity of 12,000 and opened in 1958. The stadium was extensively renovated in the 1980s and then again in time for the 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup. It currently has a capacity of 54,000 and is the home ground of the Sharks. A very wet semi-final was played here on 17 June 1995 between the Springboks and France.
19. Greyville Racecourse (Durban’s 2800 metre thoroughbred horse race track), The racecourse hosts the prestigious Durban July (which has been held since 1897). The racecourse has been in used since 1844.
20. 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.
Well, there you have it, 20 facts you might not have known about Durban. If you ever feel like visiting Durban, make sure that you book accommodation first, it’s quite a popular tourist destination in South Africa.
Watch this space for updates in the Geography category on Interesting Facts.
Scroll down to view related articles to get more facts. If you want to stay in the loop, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter.
If you live in South Africa and you're looking for a live music gig or music festival to attend, feel free to check The SA Gig Guide on our sister site (SA Music Zone).