NATAL, a British colony on the S. E. coast of Africa, one of the original prov inces of the Union of South Africa. It is bounded by the Transvaal province, Portuguese East Africa, the Indian Ocean, Cape of Good Hope province, Basutoland, and the Orange Free State province; area, est. 35,019 square miles; pop. about 1,250,000. The only spot where sheltered anchorage can be ob tained is at Port Natal, a fine circular bay near the center of the coast (see DURBAN). The surface is finely diver sified, rising by successive terraces from the shore toward the lofty mountains on its W. frontiers. The chief summits are Champagne Castle, 10,357 feet; Mont aux Sources, about 10,000 feet; and Giant's Castle, 9,657. The mineral pro ductions are principally coal, ironstone, limestone, and marble; gold has also been found in various localities. The province is well watered, but none of its rivers are navigable. The most im portant rivers are the Tugela, Umvoti, Umgeni, Umkomaas, and Umzimkulu. The climate on the whole is extremely salubrious. There are large forests on the W. and N. frontiers. The soil is generally rich and strong. On the higher forest and table-land cattle thrive well; and in the interior wheat, corn, barley, oats, maize, beans, and vegetables of al most every description have been largely and successfully grown. Corn is the chief agricultural product. There is a considerable trade. The exports and im ports are valued at about $100,000,000.
In some regions tobacco, indigo, sugar cane, and coffee grow well. The hippo potamus still has his haunts in several of the rivers, and there are numbers of small crocodiles. The birds comprise the vulture, several varieties of eagle, the secretary-bird, wild turkey, etc. Natal was discovered on Christmas Day, 1497, by Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese, and named by him "Terra Natalis." The first settlers were the Dutch Boers, who left Cape Colony in 1836, and in 1839 removed to Port Natal and proclaimed themselves an independent republic. The establishment of a hostile settlement at the only port between Algoa and Dela goa Bays was incompatible with British interests, and in 1845 Natal, after a formidable resistance by the Boers, was proclaimed a British possession. In 1856 it was separated from Cape Colony and made a separate colony.
The province of Zululand was annexed to Natal, Dec. 30, 1897, and in 1903 sev eral districts formerly belonging to the Transvaal were also annexed. In 1910 it became the original province of the Union of South Africa. There is a gov ernor appointed by the British crown, a Ministry of five members, a legislative council of 25 members. Religion is well provided for by denominational bodies. Provision is made for education for both whites and natives. The capital is Pietermaritzburg; pop. (1918) 34,645.