Durban is the second largest industrial center of South Africa. Located on the eastern coast of the country, the city is also the one of the fastest growing urban districts in South Africa, registering a combined population of more than 3.2 million people in 2001. The city’s gentle subtropical climate all year ’round and its miles of gorgeous beaches have made it one of the foremost tourist destinations in the country for thousands of visitors from all over the globe.

The aptly named “Golden Mile” is the city’s central beachfront district, and is where much of Durban’s entertainment and leisure activities are centered. With an imposing backdrop of ultra modern high-rise hotels, the beach spans four miles of promenades and entertainment establishments with numerous flea markets, shops and dining establishments and even a skate park. Zulu rickshaw pullers clad in traditional garb provide a uniquely colorful service to the many visitors and local residents who frequent the area.

Residential Places in Durban

Surprisingly for such a popular tourist destination, real estate prices in Durban are relatively cheap compared to elsewhere in the country. Most of the properties currently available for rent or for sale in the city–from the most modest one-bedroom home to the fully renovated apartment units to the plushest converted Edwardian mansion–are impeccably maintained to ensure the highest residential standards.

One of the newest housing developments in the city is the Catembe, which is comprised of 25 high quality apartments. Featuring gorgeous views of either the bay or the picturesque Glenwood district, apartment units here are available for as low as R395,000, making them an ideal investment for rental or residential purposes.

Hospitals and Universities of Durban

There are quite a few public and private hospitals in Durban in addition to the many smaller clinics and specialist health care facilities all over the city. Among the most prominent are Addington Hospital, Crompton Private Hospital, Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital, Entabeni Hospital, Kingsway Private Hospital, King Edward VIII Hospital, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Parklands Private Hospital, McCord Hospital, Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, Westville Private Hospital, and St Augustine’s Hospital.

Educational Facilities

Durban is home to two excellent tertiary learning institutions, namely the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban University of Technology.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is actually the result of the merger of the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville on January of 2004. One of the first products of the South African government’s plans to restructure its higher educational institutions, the University of KwaZulu-Natal counts a number of prominent South African figures as its more distinguished alumni, among them anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, poet Douglas Livingstone and AIDS researcher and author Alan Whiteside.

The Durban University of Technology–formerly known as theDurban Institute of Technology–currently has a roster of more than 20,000 students spread out over four campuses in Durban and two campuses in Pietermaritzburg.

Commercial Places in Durban

South Africa is no slouch when it comes to places to eat. Even then, Durban more than holds its own admirably in the gastronomic arts with a wealth of restaurants and smaller food establishments that cater to every possible taste.

The Morningside district is particularly gifted in this respect, with restaurants that range from the familiar to the exotic. Check out the 9th Avenue Bistro & Bar for its wide selection of continental and global cuisine, Audacia Manor for its grilled seafood specialties, Baanthai for traditional Thai cooking, and Butcher Boys for its huge steaks and traditional South African dishes.

Pinetown is another worthwhile stop for the hungry withBlack Forest Tavern and Butcher Block offering a wide selection of sumptuous grilled seafood. The Cape Town Fish Market with branches in Umhlanga Ridge, North Beach and Point Waterfront is also worth a visit for some of the freshest seafood in the city.

Service Establishments of Durban

The international telephone access code for South Africa is +27. To dial a location outside the country, you have to dial the outgoing code, which is 00, followed by the appropriate country code. To dial the United Kingdom for example, you have to punch in 0044. There are three GSM mobile phone providers in the country all offering 900 and 1800 services.

Water supply services in the city are handled by theDurban Metro Water Services or DMWS and they are also responsible for providing sanitation and solid waste removal services. The company currently services more than 360,000 households all over the city. The company is also working with a few organizations to provide water in areas that were previously not covered by the DMWS. A newly formed agreement with the Water and Sanitation Services South Africa or WSSA aims to expand the company’s sewerage services.

There are two major English-language daily newspapers in Durban: “The Mercury” and the “Daily News”, both of which are published by the Independent Newspapers group. Owned by the Irish media tycoon Tony O'Reilly, these two newspapers have unfortunately been experiencing a noticeable decrease in circulation in recent years.

Embassies in Durban

For diplomatic concerns while you are in Durban, you can either contact the office of the British High Commission in Pretoria or the office of the British Honorary Consulate right in the city.

The British High Commission can be found at 255 Hill Street, Arcadia 0002, Pretoria. If you wish to reach the consular section, you can find their offices at 256 Glyn Street, Hatfield 0083, Pretoria. Their telephone numbers are:

(27) (12) 421 7500 for the switchboard,
(27) (12) 421 7733 for general inquiries,
(27) (12) 421 7800 for consular services,
(27) (12) 421 7801 for passport related concerns, and
(27) (12) 421 7802 for Visa related issues.

The office of the British Honorary Consulate can be found at 124 Davenport Road, Glenwood, Durban 4001. Their telephone number is (27) 31 202 6823 and you can also fax them at (27) 31 201 5140. Office hours are Monday to Thursday from 0830 to 1530 and from 0830 to 1300 on Fridays.