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Land and People

The capital is Pietermaritzburg and the largest city is Durban. Betwen 1994 and 2004 Pietermaritzburg and Ulundi alternated as the capital. The province rises from a narrow (except in the north) coastal belt to an inland region fringed in the west by the Drakensberg Range, whose highest point in the province is c.11,200 ft (3,410 m). The Tugela River flows west to east across the center of the province.

Sugar-cane plantations along the Indian Ocean coastal belt are a mainstay of the economy. Citrus fruits, corn, sorghum, cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also grown, and sheep and cattle are raised. Industries, located mainly in and around Durban, include (besides sugar refineries) textile, clothing, rubber, fertilizer, paper, and food-processing plants, tanneries, and oil refineries. There are large aluminum-smelting plants at Richards Bay, on the central coast. The province produces considerable coal, timber, and tea. It has a good rail network; Durban is one of South Africa's major ports. The main institution of higher education is the Univ. of KwaZulu-Natal (at Durban, Westville, Pinetown, and Pietermaritzburg). Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg Range includes falls (c.2,800 ft/850 m) of the Tugela River. The main languages are Zulu, English, and Afrikaans.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: South African Political Geography

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