UThungulu District Municipality is situated in northeastern KwaZulu-Natal and is made up of the six local municipalities of Mbonambi, uMhlathuze, Ntambanana, uMlalazi, Mthonjaneni and Nkandla. A flat coastal region comprises the Natal coastal belt and the Zululand coastal plain. Inland, the lowveld to the northeast and the Eshowe block to the west are hilly. To the northwest the terrain is more extreme, with steeply incised valleys.
The N2 highway is a link to other economic centres, in particular the national economic powerhouse, Gauteng Province. The most important rail link is the coal line from Mpumalanga Province via Vryheid to the Richards Bay coal terminal.
The significant economic centres that shape the district are Richards Bay, whose harbour facilities are world class and have been the prime reason for large-scale industrialisation in the district, and Empangeni, an industrial and service centre whose higher-order services attract people from many rural settlements.
The district has a population of 905,383 and stretches over 8,213.39 km². The largest contributer to the economy is manufacturing (51%), transport (15.1%) and agriculture (9.5%). Most people are employed in the community, social and personal service sector, followed by agriculture and the wholesale and retail trade sector.