The History of Durban – Christmas Eve 1497 to Present Day

an old photo of Durban

Port Natal changed its name in 1835 and became known as Durban, as the Cape Governor of the time, Sir Benjamin Durban. The settlement didn't develop very quickly, possibly because of the lack of support or protection from the British government. Life was uncertain and there were often assaults and skirmishes by the Zulus, who still considered it their tribal homeland.

In 1837 Voortrekkers arrived in Natal. They were led by Piet Retief who helped negotiate a contract with Zulu King Dingane that granted them the area of land between Durban and the Tugela river. This area became a Boer Republic in Natal. Not long after the entire delegation was killed by Dingane. There were more assaults and attacks but eventually the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus, in what is now called the Battle at Bloodriver.

This led to Afrikaners founding their Republic 'Natalia' and laying claim on Durban which didn't make the British too happy. Troops were sent and at first they were defeated in the Battle of Congelia in 1842. However, the English secured their dominance in Natal the following year and the Voortrekkers found a new home further north in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Natal, together with Durban, was incorporated into the British Cape Colony in 1844.

From here on in things would keep on getting better for Durban and it wasn't long before it became one of the most important seaports of the British Empire. This was due in no small part to the boom of the sugar cane industry in Natal towards the end of the 19th century. The seaport at Durban became the largest sugar terminal in the world.

Nowadays, there are more than 4 million people that live in the metropolitan area of Durban. It is the second largest city in South Africa, after Johannesburg. It is still the biggest seaport in South Africa and has an extensive industrial area. And it is also becoming a very popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.