Kraal (also spelled craal or kraul) is an Afrikaans and Dutch word (also used in South African English) for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within an African settlement or village surrounded by a fence of thorn-bush branches, a palisade, mud wall, or other fencing, roughly circular in form. It is similar to a boma in eastern or central Africa.
In Curaçao, another Dutch colony, the enclosure was called "koraal" which in Papiamentu is translated "kura" (still in use today for any enclosed terrain, like a garden).
In the Afrikaans language a kraal is a term derived from the Portuguese word curral,cognate with the Spanish-language corral, which entered into English separately. In Eastern and Central Africa, the equivalent word for a livestock enclosure is boma, but this has taken on wider meanings.
In some Southern African regions, the term Kraal is used in scouting to refer to the team of Scout Leaders of a group.
The term primarily refers to the type of dispersed homestead characteristic of the Nguni-speaking peoples of southern Africa. Although from the period of colonisation, European South Africans and historians commonly referred to the entire settlement as a kraal[nb 1], ethnographers[who?] have long recognised that its proper referent is the animal pen area within a homestead. Modern ethnographers call the several human dwellings within a homestead (Xhosa: umzi, Zulu: umuzi, Swazi: umuti) houses (singular indlu; plural Xhosa and Zulu izindlu, Swati tindlu).
Folds for animals and enclosures made specially for defensive purposes are also called kraals.