One of South Africa
's nine provinces, often abbreviated to KZN. "KwaZulu" means "place of the Zulu
, after the province's dominant group; Natal, its former name, was
given to it by Portuguese
explorer Vasco da Gama
in 1497 because it was on Christmas
Day that he first sighted the coast.
It is the smallest province in area but also the most populous: according to 1996 census figures it had a population of 8,4m people, 21% of the national total; 57% of KZN's population is rural.
It is located on the Indian Ocean coast, bordered to the north by Swaziland and Mozambique, to the west by Lesotho and the provinces of Mpumalanga and the Free State and to the south by the Eastern Cape province. Its offical capital is at Ulundi, although pretty much everything of any consequence happens in the economic centre of Durban, South Africa's major port city.