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iSimangaliso Wetland Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Greater St Lucia Wetlands
Map showing the location of iSimangaliso Wetland Park
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Location of the park within of South Africa
LocationKwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Nearest cityDurban, South Africa
Coordinates28°0′0″S 32°30′0″E / 28.00000°S 32.50000°E / -28.00000; 32.50000Coordinates: 28°0′0″S 32°30′0″E / 28.00000°S 32.50000°E / -28.00000; 32.50000
Area3,280 km²
Governing bodyiSimangaliso Authority
Criteria:vii, ix, x
Designated:1999 (23rd session)
Reference #:914
State Party: South Africa

iSimangaliso Wetland Park is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa about 275 kilometres north of Durban. It is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the Lake St. Lucia estuary, and made up of around 3,280 km² of pristine natural ecosystems, managed by iSimangaliso Authority. The park includes the:

The park was previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, but was renamed effective from 1 November 2007. The word 'isimangaliso' is Zulu for 'a miracle'.

Transfrontier park

The Park is due to be integrated into a transfrontier park, the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Area, straddling South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland. This is in turn planned to become a part of the greater Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Satellite image of the park, with the borders of several conservation areas outlined in yellow.


In the northern part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park you will find Kosi Bay. It has an interesting history and even today it is unique.

St. Lucia was first named in 1554 as "Rio de la Medaos do Oura" ("River of the Dows of Gold") by the survivors of the Portuguese ship Saint Benedict. At this stage, only the Tugela River mouth was known as St. Lucia. Later, in 1575, the Tugela River was named Tugela. On 13 December 1575, the day of the feast of Saint Lucy, Manuel Peresterello renamed the mouth area to Santa Lucia.

In 1822, St. Lucia was proclaimed by the British as a township.
In 1895, St. Lucia Game Reserve, 30 km north of the town was proclaimed.
In 1971, St. Lucia Lake and the turtle beaches and coral reefs of Maputaland have been listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).
In December 1999, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The iSimangaliso Wetlands Park was declared a world heritage site in 1999 at an unveiling ceremony where Nelson Mandela was the guest of honor. The park was proclaimed a world heritage site because of the diverse biodiversity, unique ecosystems and superlative natural beauty occurring in a relatively small area. The reason for the huge diversity in fauna and flora is the great variety of different ecosystems on the park, ranging from coral reefs and sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannas and wetlands. Animals occurring on the park include elephants, leopard, black and white rhino, buffalo, and in the ocean, whales, dolphins, and marine turtles including the leatherback and loggerhead turtle.

There are large outcroppings of underwater reefs which are home to brightly coloured fish and corals. Some of the most spectacular coral diversity in the world is located in Sodwana Bay. The reefs are inhabited by colour-changing octopuses and squid ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. Occasionally gigantic whale sharks can be seen gliding through the water; mouth agape to scoop up tiny plankton.

See also

External links


  • "St. Lucia Estuary, South Africa". NASA Earth Observatory. Retrieved 2006-05-19.

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