The Zulu are located primarily in Zululand (28° S, 32° E), which is part of the province of Natal of the Republic of South Africa. The Zulu language is classified as a dialect of Nguni, a Zone S language of the South Eastern Area of Bantu proper. Before the days of Shaka, the early nineteenth-century king who consolidated the North Nguni tribes, the term abakwaZulu referred to members of the Zulu "clan," descendants of a man named Zulu. With Shaka s political conquests, the term "Zulu" came to include some hundreds of Nguni "clans," all of whom paid allegiance to the Zulu king. Many South African peoples, including the Zulu, are also called "Kaffirs," meaning "infidels," a name which was bestowed on them by early Arab traders.
Gluckman (1972) quotes a population estimate of 100,000 for the early nineteenth century, but he feels that this estimate is too low. According to the 1967 census, the Zulu population was 3,340,000. Berglund (1976) gives the population as 4,130,000. The population in 1986 was estimated at 5,960,000, distributed thus: 5,700,00 in South Africa, 37,500 in Malawi, 15,000 in Swaziland, and 228,000 in Lesotho.