Ethekwini or Durban is the largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. Like the country, the city too is vibrant and full of infectious energy. The city witnesses hot and humid summers and pleasant winters. Its economy thrives on the transport, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism industries. Durban this year, apart from hosting the group matches has the honor of hosting one of the two semifinals the FIFA World Cup 2010 tournament. Durban is also distinguished as the city with the busiest port in Africa.
It all began on a Christmas day way back in 1497 when legendary Portuguese explorer Vaso da Gama anchored in what he thought was a river. The ‘river’ was actually a lagoon and the land on the lagoon was what would become the modern-day Durban. Vaso da Gama named the body of water Rio de Natal or ‘Christmas River’; the name was later corrected and called Port Natal. Port Natal was then rechristened Durban on 23 June 1835, in honour of the Cape Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban.
The city of Durban, just like most other South African cities is loved for the variety of activities it has on offer. At the very heart of the city is a four kilometer stretch of beaches, swimming pools, restaurants and promenades. This entertaining stretch is also known as the ‘Golden Mile’. The water around this stretch is said to be influenced by the Aghulas current which ensures that the water stays at a warm and enjoyable temperature, thus making year round swimming an exclusive possibility.
At Durban, you can take a ride in a rickshaw steered by drivers decorated in flamboyant headdresses, one of the most preferred and fun ways to see the city. Tourists can also get to visit the Ushaka Marine World, Africa’s largest marine-themed park. The park boasts of maintaining one of the five largest aquariums in the world.
Durban enjoys proximity to two of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites – The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the Ukahlamba/Drakensberg National Park. This makes Durban the best place to start off on a trip to these two sites. The best of nature is put up on show at the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park; the park is blessed with varying landforms such as reed and papyrus wetlands, coral reefs and coastal dunes. The Ukahlamba/Drakensberg National Park is just as beautiful as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and is set apart with mystical blue mountains and a myriad fascinating rock paintings.
Football In Durban
The city of Durban is no stranger to the game of football. The city in 1996 played host to the group, quarter-final and semi-final matches of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. The city also serves as home to two Premier Soccer League clubs, Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows.
Durban has even seen several South African championship-winning sides arise from within its geographical boundaries. The Zulu Royals from Durban in 1971 were the first winners of the National Professional Soccer League. Durban also had the privilege of hosting South Africa’s premier football league tournament in 1882. The league back then consisted of four clubs: Natal Wasps, Durban Alpha, Umgeni Stars and Pietermaritzburg County.
The South African city has churned out many talented footballers including the likes of Siyabonga Nomvete,
Delron Buckley and Sibusiso Zuma. Durban is the birthplace of Bruce Grobbelaar, the former Zimbabwean goalkeeper. This talented goalkeeper during his tenure with Liverpool placed himself amongst Africa’s elite when his team went on to win the European Cup.
Durban hosted group, quarter-final and semi-final games in the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. The city also hosted South Africa's game against England in 2003, which helped launch the country's bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. England won the encounter 2-1.