KwaZulu-Natal has two capitals, the more southern Pietermaritzburg (the province's second-largest city) and Ulundi, the traditional capital, in the north. The two capitals are a reflection of the province's coalition government. The largest city is the coastal city of Durban.
South Africa's two biggest harbours are situated in Durban and Richard's Bay. The latter is a comparatively small town, its harbour specialising in bulk exports, especially coal which is mined in the interior. Heavy minerals are mined at Richard's Bay. Durban's harbour is the busiest port in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other major towns are Ladysmith, Newcastle and Estcourt.
KwaZulu-Natal is one of the greenest and most lush areas of the country blessed with high rainfall.
Lying in a broad strip, the Indian Ocean forms its western border and Swaziland and Mozambique the northern border. Its western border is marked by the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range that has several peaks well over 3 000m. This area combines mountainous areas, rugged green hills and deepcut valleys.
Between the mountains and the humid, subtropical coastline is savannah grassland, but there are also areas of indigenous forest here and along the coast.
It is a summer rainfall area, with a climate that ranges from extremely hot along the coast in summer, to heavy snow on the mountains in winter. The Midlands are drier than the coast and can be very cold in winter.
A world-renowned feature of the northern coastline is the St Lucia Estuary. The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is a World Heritage Site along with the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. There are several superb game parks in KwaZulu-Natal.
The fertility of the soil and comparatively good rainfall - more than 1 000 mm a year - make agriculture central to the economy. Sugar cane and tropical fruit are major products of the coastal belt. Dairy, stock and vegetable farming are important inland. Other land uses include forestry and tea plantations.