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Durban History, South Africa

Durban’s written history started in 1497 when Vasco de Gama set foot in the harbors of the city. The great explorer arrived on Christmas Day and as a tribute to that day, he named the area Terra do Natal or Christmas Country. But even before Vasco de Gama arrived here, there were already Zulu speaking locals living a few kilometers inland. Although Vasco de Gama named the area, it would take a few more centuries before settlers would start to live in the harbor permanently. After Vasco de Gama, no one really used the harbor except for pirates and small ivory traders.

The first settlers or the pioneers in the natural harbor arrived in 1824. It was believed that Henry Francis Fynn was able to forge a contract with the Zulu King. The name Durban was first used to identify this area. The name is a tribute for then Governor of Cape, Sir Benjamin D’Urban. This agreement started out strong but it eventually crumbled as locals realized the importance of the harbor. This was also due to the arrival of additional settlers, the Voortrekkers. The first settlers were already feeling the pressure from the locals and the presence of additional settlers.

In 1837, the great Zulu raid happened. The main purpose was just to drive out the White from the port which made the Boars in control of land. Unfortunately for the Boers, the British regained the land one year later through the Anglo-Boer War. At first the British were having a hard time dealing with the Boers who have already established a republic but in 1844, the Boers were driven out of the area. 1844 was also the year when Cape Natal became part of the British Colony.

As soon as the British began resettling in Cape Natal, they started tilling the land. Since there was not enough help in the area, the British went to India and hired Indians to work on their land. The influx of Asians became permanent which greatly contributed to the fact that Durban now has the largest Asian settlement in South Africa. In fact, one of the settlers has made an impact to the world, Mahatma Ghandi.

In the near future, Durban is again going down on history books. In 2010, South Africa will host the World Cup and Durban is one of the key destinations. Additional infrastructures, especially an additional airport are being constructed right now to accommodate the influx of tourists.

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