Richards Bay & IDZ

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The town of Richards Bay has its origins in makeshift harbour that was set up by the Commodore of the Cape, Sir Frederick Richards, during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. 

Some 75 years later the town was established on the shores of the lagoon and proclaimed in 1969. In 1976 Richards Bay harbour was converted into a deep water harbour with railway and an oil-gas pipeline linking the port to Johannesburg.

One of the major attractions for the uThungulu District is the port, which is the largest deep-water port on the African continent. 

It imports and exports the highest volume of bulk cargo of all African ports and has double the capacity of the Durban port, handling more than 75 million tons of cargo a year. 

The bulk-handling facilities at the harbour are world-class and the trade links with international economies through the port have been the major catalyst for large-scale industrialisation in the area. 

The Richards Bay Coal Terminal is the largest coal export facility in the world. Besides coal, local exports include aluminium, titanium and other heavy minerals, granite, ferrochrome, paper pulp, wood chips and phosphoric acid. 

Iron ore, rutile (titanium oxide) and zircon are mined from the sand dunes close to the lagoon by Richards Bay Minerals.

Apart from mining, tourism is a major part of the economy. Richards Bay, one of South Africa's fastest developing industrial towns, is seen as a gateway to Zululand, and the area is popular with foreign tourists due to its large game parks and the diverse wildlife.

The town has a modern bustling business centre has every modern facility and boasts excellent recreational facilities for residents and tourists.

The uThungulu District, of which Richards Bay is an integral economic centre, is home to many wetlands. The most notable is Lake Cubhu and the Greater uMhlathuze Wetlands to the south of Richards Bay at Esikhawini. 

Tourism is a major money spinner with potential for further development, and the emphasis on “industrial tourism” is actively promoted where visitor groups are able to view industrial plants, mines and other operations.

Richards Bay is characterised by a subtropical climate with warm wet summers and mild moist to dry winters, which are frost-free. The town has an average annual rainfall of 1228mm, while the average annual temperature is 21.5°C.

The Richards Bay area is generally very flat and is situated on a coastal plain. The area is abundant in coastal dune forest, most notably along the coastal dune belt and in the suburb of Meerensee.

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