Until the 1970s, DURBAN was regarded as white South Africa's quintessential seaside playground – a status fostered by its tropical colours, oversized vegetation and an itinerant population of surfers, hedonists and holidaying Jo'burg families. Then, in the 1980s, the collapse of apartheid population-influx controls saw a growing stream of Africans flood in from rural KwaZulu-Natal – and even from as far afield as central Africa – to stake their claims in the city centre, with shantytowns and cardboard hovels revealing the reality of one of the most unmistakably African conurbations in the country.
South Africa's third-largest city is a thriving industrial centre and the largest port in Africa. Its beachfront pulls thousands upon thousands of white Jo'burgers down to "Durbs" every year, while the harbour remains a photogenic place for meandering or eating and drinking at the dockside. Another unmistakable feature of Durban is a legacy of the city's Indianpopulation (its second-largest group): mosques, bazaars and temples, festooned with wildly coloured deities, stand juxtaposed with the Victorian buildings marking out the colonial centre.