Indian traders were sometimes referred to as "Arab traders" because of their dress, and because large numbers of them were Muslim.
Passenger Indians, who initially operated in Durban, expanded inland, to the South African Republic (Transvaal), establishing communities in settlements on the main road between Johannesburg and Durban.
There remains a cultural, religious and racial overlap for "Asians" and "Indian South Africans".
During the most intense period of segregation and apartheid, "Indian", "Asian", "Coloured" and "Malay" group identities controlled numerous aspects of daily life, including where a classified person was permitted to live.
In other areas, such as those marked coloured, they were either a minority or not allowed to enter under apartheid laws.