Pietermaritzburg (/ˌpiːtərˈmærɪtsbɜːrɡ/; Zulu: umGungundlovu) is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838 and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its Zulu name umGungundlovu is the name used for the district municipality. Pietermaritzburg is popularly called Maritzburg in English and Zulu alike, and often informally abbreviated to PMB. It is a regionally important industrial hub, producing aluminium, timber and dairy products, as well as the main economic hub of Umgungundlovu District Municipality. The public sector is a major employer in the city due to the local, district and provincial governments being located here. It is home to many schools and tertiary education institutions, including a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It had a population of 228,549 in 1991; the current population is estimated at over 600,000 residents (including neighbouring townships) and has one of the largest populations of Indian South Africans in South Africa.
The city was founded by the Voortrekkers, following the defeat of Dingane at the Battle of Blood River, and was the capital of the short-lived Boer republic, Natalia. Britain took over Pietermaritzburg in 1843 and it became the seat of the Natal Colony’s administration with the first lieutenant-governor, Martin West, making it his home. Fort Napier, named after the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier, was built to house a garrison. In 1893, Natal received responsibility for their own government and an assembly building was built along with the city hall.
On 7 June 1893, while Mahatma Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class carriage. Despite Gandhi having a first-class ticket, he was ordered by the conductor to move to the van compartment at the end of the train: he refused, and he was removed from the train at Pietermaritzburg.
Shivering through the winter night in the waiting room of the station, Gandhi made the momentous decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there. Out of that struggle emerged his unique version of nonviolent resistance, Satyagraha. Today, a bronze statue of Gandhi stands in Church Street, in the city centre.
In 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed, Natal became a province of the Union, and Pietermaritzburg remained the capital.During apartheid, the city was segregated into various sections. 90% of the Indian population was moved to the suburb of Northdale while most of its Zulu inhabitants were moved to the neighbouring township of Edendale.