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Umhlanga means the place of reeds in Zulu and is named after the Ohlanga River which reaches the Indian Ocean three kilometres north of the town. Umhlanga was formed in 1972 through the merger of Umhlanga Rocks, a seaside resort town, and the suburb of La Lucia.
Umhlanga has become the focus of development in the greater Durban area with many businesses relocating offices from central Durban because of urban decay, similarly to Sandton forming the new centre of Johannesburg. In line with this, Durban International Airport will move to La Mercy, near Umhlanga, and reopen as King Shaka International Airport in the future.
Umhlanga Rocks has many luxury hotels and apartments right on the beach including the Cabana Beach Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Umhlanga Sands Hotel and Pearls of Umhlanga apartments. Many of these have views of the landmark lighthouse.
Umhlanga Ridge is a new retail, office and residential node situated on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean. It was largely developed on sugarcane land by property development company, Moreland Estates, owned by the Tongaat-Hulett sugar group. Located on the ridge are Gateway Theatre of Shopping and other shopping centres, motor dealerships, a private hospital and many offices.
Umhlanga, together with Umdloti forms the Sugar Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
Other places of interest in Umhlanga are the Umhlanga Country Club and Mount Edgecombe Country Club in nearby Mount Edgecombe.
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