A city steeped in history, Durban is the largest city in coastal Natal on the Indian Ocean. Port Natal, as the city was first known, was only accessible to small craft until the late 19th century, when a protective sea wall and pier were built to form a channel entrance. It is now the biggest port on the African continent. The city is South Africa's leading beach resort with all-year bathing and is also noted for its gardens. Drive along Victoria Embankment where you can view the 19th-century Portuguese clock commemorating the 400th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's sighting of the Natal province in 1497. Other sights include the Indian Market, the Botanical Gardens, or visit a Zulu village outside the city. Nearby are some excellent game reserves.
Durban was founded as a township by British settlers in 1835, and was named after Sir Benjamin D'Urban, then governor of Cape Colony. It grew rapidly in the 1890s following the completion of the railway link to the Witwatersrand goldfields. Many of the inhabitants are of South Asian background. Like many cities in South Africa, Durban has been the site of ethnic and political violence during the country's transition to majority rule.
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