Pietermaritzburg (pēˌtərmărˈĭtsbûrgˌ) [key], city, part and seat of Msunduzi local municipality and capital of KwaZulu-Natal prov., E South Africa, in the foothills of the Drakensberg Range. The city is an administrative and industrial center. Its products include wattle bark extract, furniture, footwear, chocolate, and cloth. Motor vehicles are assembled in the city, and iron ore is mined nearby.
Pietermaritzburg was founded in 1838 and named for Piet Retief and Gert Maritz, Boer (Afrikaner) leaders of the Great Trek (see Trek, Great). The Boers made it capital of the short-lived (1839–43) Voortrekker Republic of Natal. The city became capital of Natal when the province was annexed by Great Britain in 1843. In 1880 a railroad to Durban was opened. From 1994 to 2004 the city was the co-capital of KwaZulu-Natal with Ulundi.
Pietermaritzburg is the seat of the Univ. of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg (1909), campuses of the Durban Univ. of Technology, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, and Tatham Art Gallery. Points of interest include the Church of the Vow (1839), built to commemorate the 1838 Boer victory over Zulu forces; Fort Napier, erected by the British in 1843; and the Provincial Council Buildings. Natal Lion Park is nearby. The city's name is sometimes shortened to Maritzburg.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.