Durban was one of the host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but there’s much more to this buzzing coastal metropolis than that. Durban is a modern city with many interesting activities and rich with history.
Here are some interesting facts about Durban:
- The site of Durban was visited in 1497 by Portugeuse explorer Vasco da Gama, who named it Rio de Natal. Natal means “Christmas” in Portuguese.
- 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).
- Durban harbor is the home of the 9th largest harbor in the world. The harbour was an extremely busy port of call for ship repairs when the port was first opened in the 1840s. The modern Port of Durban grew around trade from Johannesburg. Today Durban has the busiest container port in Africa.
- The Gateway shopping center is the largest shopping mall in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere and is situated in the Northern Durban suburb 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.
- Ushaka Marine World (in Durban) is the world’s 5th largest aquarium. The aquarium has 32 tanks which houses a total of 17,500 cubic meters of water.
- The Durban International Airport was decommissioned just before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The newly built King Shaka International Airport was opened on the 1st of May 2010. The new airport is situated 35 km North of the city in the La Mercy region.
- The spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Ghandi began his political journey in Durban.
- Durban has an estimated population of +/- 3.4 million people (according to the 2007 sensus) and is the 3rd largest city in South Africa (behind Johannesburg and Cape Town).
- The first steam railway in South Africa was opened in Durban in 1860. The line was only 8 km long (between the Point and Pine Terrace).
- The first official horse took place at Greyville Racecourse in 1844. The first Durban July (then called the Durban Turf Club handicap) took place in 1897 after the establishment of the Durban Turf Club.
If we left out anything important about Durban, please comment on this post.