Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Natal, a district in the S.E. of Africa, taking its name from the fact that it was discovered by Vasco di Gama on Christmas Day, 1497. The Portuguese and Dutch made three vain attempts to settle there, but in 1834 an English party settled at Durban during the reign of the Zulu king Chaka. In 1835-37 some Boers settled in the N. The Boers having started a government at Pietermaritzburg, the English Government annexed the country in 1843, and in 1856 it was made a separate colony. Durban is 800 miles from Cape Town. The colony contains 20,460 square miles, with 180 miles of coast, and in its population the natives largely preponderate, while there are many Indian coolies. The Drakenberg mountains are in the N.W., and the land rises in a series of terraces from the sea to them. There are 23 rivers, not navigable, and the scenery is good. The coast region is fertile, and tropical in productions, among these being sugar, coffee, indigo, arrowroot, ginger, tobacco, rice, pepper, cotton, and pineapple. In the midland districts European products are raised, while the highlands form excellent grazing grounds. There are large coalfields and good beds of iron-ore, and forest timber was plentiful. The chief exports are wool, skins, angora hair, gold and sugar. Durban is the only important harbour, and the chief railway is from Durban to the capital Pietermaritzburg, 50 miles inland. The high-lying districts are beneficial to those suffering from chest diseases.