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PIETERMARITZBURG, the capital of Natal, situated in 29 46' S., 30 13' E., 45 m. in a direct line (71 by rail) W.N.W. of Durban. It lies, 2200 ft. above the sea, north of the river Umsunduzi, and is surrounded by wooded hills. Of these the Town Hill, flat-topped, rises 1600 ft. above the town. Pop. (1904), 31,119, of whom 15,087 were whites, 10,752 Kaffirs, and 5280 Indians. The town is laid out on the usual Dutch South African plan in rectangular blocks with a central market square. The public buildings include the legislative council chambers and the legislative assembly buildings, government house, the government offices, college, post office and market buildings. The town-hall, a fine building in a modified Renaissance style (characteristic of the majority of the other public buildings), has a lofty tower. It was completed in 1901, and replaces a building destroyed by fire in 1898. St Saviour's is the cathedral church of the Anglican community. The headquarters of the Dutch Reformed Church are also in the town. There are monuments of Queen Victoria and Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and various war memorials one commemorating those who fell in Zululand in 1879, and another those who lost their lives in the Boer War 1899-1902. A large park and botanical gardens add to the attractions of the town. A favourite mode of conveyance is by rickshaw. The climate is healthy and agreeable, the mean annual temperature being 65 F.' (55 in June, 71 in February). The rainfall is about 38 in. a year, chiefly in the summer months (Oct.-Mar.), when the heat is tempered by violent thunderstorms.

Pietermaritzburg was founded early in 1839 by the newlyarrived Dutch settlers in Natal, and its name commemorates two of their leaders Piet Relief and Gerrit Maritz. From the time of its establishment it was the seat of the Volksraad of the Natal Boers, and on the submission of the Boers to the British in 1842 Maritzburg (as it is usually called) became the capital of the country. It was given a municipal board in 1848, and in 1854 was incorporated as a borough. Railway connexion with Durban was made in 1880, and in 1895 the line was extended to Johannesburg. The borough covers 44 sq. m. and includes numerous attractive suburbs. The rateable value is about 4,000,000. Various industries are carried on, including brickmaking, tanning, brewing, and cart and wagon building.

See J. F. Ingram, The Story of an African City (Maritzburg, 1898).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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