Dazzling Durban, South Africa’s busiest port town rests on the east coast overlooking the Bay of Natal. Its year-round sunshine, tropical climate and backyards bustling with lush verdant flora, butterflies and monkeys, makes it a popular destination and a wonderful home for expats and their families.
With its delicious cauldron of color, cultures, races, and religions, Durban is a fascinating city to live in. This is one of the few places in the world where you will find Indians speaking Afrikaans and Europeans speaking Zulu.
These days, downtown Durban is experiencing rising crime rates and the local beaches are increasingly littered with plastic waste, prompting residents to form volunteer cleanup missions. Durban’s suburban areas, however, remain relatively safe, clean, and provide ready access to the city’s wonderful outdoor pursuits.
The city offers a fantastic nightlife, with live music venues, theaters and restaurants. On weekends and holidays, there is no shortage of activities, from sailing on the Indian Ocean, to rambling in the 1000 Hills where you can truly explore the roots of Zulu culture. With the recently upgraded King Shaka International airport a 30-minute taxi ride away, the rest of South Africa is on your doorstep.
What is special or unique about your city?
South Africa is situated at the southernmost tip of the African continent. It is a diverse country of breathtaking natural beauty—from sunbaked deserts to sub-tropical coastlines, vast expanses of untamed bush to majestic mountains. South Africa is twice the size of Texas and is divided into nine areas, known as provinces, of which Durban (also known as KwaZulu-Natal) is one. Durban was founded as a township in 1835 by British settlers. The community grew rapidly following the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand. Now, the population is in excess of two million people, speaking eleven official languages: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Venda, Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele, Tswana, Tsonga, Northern Sotho and Southern Sotho.
The climate of the country is as diverse as its many landscapes. The northern areas have hot summer days, ending in spectacular evening thunderstorms and clear, dry frosty winters. The Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate with cold wet winters and warm dry summers. The coastal area of KwaZulu-Natal has high humidity in summer and balmy winter evenings.
KwaZulu-Natal is comprised of several regions: Durban; the Drakensberg; Pietermaritzburg; Midland; Zululand; the South, Dolphin and North coasts; Battlefield and East Griqualand.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
South Africa is a warm and friendly multicultural country, a fact that is well-illustrated by its nickname, the “Rainbow Nation;” the title illuminates the country’s cultural diversity.
Are these impressions likely to change?
From time to time, you may encounter someone who doesn’t fall into the category of warm or friendly, but you will find those anywhere. Your overall impression of Durban will probably remain whether you’re seeing it for the first time or living here.
What is the local language?
There are eleven official languages in South Africa: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Venda, Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele, Tswana, Tsonga, Northern Sotho and Southern Sotho
The most widely used local languages are English and Zulu.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
It is possible to live in and around Durban without speaking Zulu, but it would be very difficult to do so if you knew no English.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Although South Africa is infamous for the old apartheid laws, they are no longer in existence. Even so, it is advisable to avoid bringing them up in everyday conversation.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Our climate is a very favorable one. Our summers are hot and humid, while our winters are mild. Some prefer winter to summer. The sun in South Africa is very strong; avoid lying in the sun between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. It is advisable to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a protection factor of higher than 15 at all times.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Durban is a typical coastal town, and residents are often described as being very laid back. The crime rate in cities and residential areas has increased since 1994, so it's best to keep your wits about you at all times.