South Africa Population

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of South Africa is 56,463,617, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 56,463,617
Population growth rate 0.97%
Birth rate 20.20 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 49.48 years
Men life expectancy 50.43 years
Women life expectancy 48.51 years
Age structure
0-14 years 28.18%
15-64 years 66.00%
65 years and above 5.81%
Median age 26.50 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.99
Population density 46.32 residents per km²
Urbanization 56.90%
79.6% black (including Zulu, Xhosa, North Sotho, South Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga [Shangaan], Swasi, Ndebele, Venda), 8.9% white, 9.1% colored (colored), 2.5% Indian / Asians
Christians 68% (almost all whites and coloreds, approx. 60% of all blacks and 40% of Indians), Muslims 2%, Hindus 1.5% (60% of Indians), indigenous religions and animists 28.5%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.705
HDI ranking 113th out of 194

People in South Africa

The coast extends over a length of 2500 kilometers and the land is 1,219,912 km². Germany fits around 3.5 times into South Africa.

A large part of the country lies on a plateau, the South African table country, which you can imagine as a large and very wide hill. This is at an altitude between 900 and 2000 meters above sea level. This plateau is called the Highveld here.

The Cape of Good Hope is near the southern tip of Africa. It is not the southernmost point of Africa, but the most south-westerly.

The capital of South Africa is called Pretoria. In 2005 the city council decided to change the name to Tshwane. The renaming was finally decided in 2016. However, the city is known worldwide by the old name. More than 3 million people live in it.

More than 58 million people live in South Africa. 80 out of 100 residents are black. Most of them belong to the Zulu, followed by the Xhosa, Sotho and Ndebele. Many are descendants of the Bantu people who immigrated here hundreds of years ago.

9 out of 100 South Africans are whites with European ancestry. These came mainly from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Great Britain. South Africa is the country in Africa with the largest number of people of European descent.

9 out of 100 South Africans are so-called coloreds. They are of mixed race. 2 out of 100 residents are originally from Asia. Most of them are Indians who were brought here as contract workers in the 19th century. South Africa is a multicultural country, i.e. a country in which many cultures live.

The consequences of apartheid, the racial segregation in the country that was in place until 1991, can still be felt today. Many South Africans are poor and many are unemployed. The income of a black South African is twelve times as low as the income of a white one (compare also everyday life – living in South Africa).

South Africa is the largest financial and economic power in Africa. South Africa’s industry is well developed.

Today the terms “colored” or “black” are sometimes understood as a dirty word. After all, it doesn’t matter what skin color someone is. The best thing to do is to say “South African”, which can then be someone with black, white, yellow or purple skin.

Consequences of racial segregation

The consequences of apartheid, the racial segregation in the country that was in place until 1991, can still be felt today. Many South Africans are poor and many are unemployed. The income of a black South African is twelve times as low as the income of a white one.

Who are the Boers?

The Boers are Europeans who immigrated to southern Africa. The term itself means “farmer” and comes from the Dutch language. Most of the Boers were Dutch. But some were also German or French.

The Boers settled in South Africa from 1652. The Dutch had made the area their colony. The Boers who came to South Africa saw themselves as conquerors and thus new owners of the land. They saw themselves as the new masters of a land that was given to them, as it were given by God. The original residents of South Africa were people of little value to them.

The Boers initially only lived on the coast, but were then pushed further inland and north, mainly by the British, who made the Cape Colony theirs in 1806. Incidentally, the Boers call themselves Afrikaners and their language is Afrikaans.

Who are the colored?

Most of the Boers were male. During this time it was almost impossible for single women to emigrate to a foreign country like South Africa on their own. This is how the Boers married South African women. The women were not always asked whether they wanted to marry the white settlers at all.

The consequences were children from these “mixed connections”, who were then referred to as “colored” or “colored.” It was not easy for these children because they did not really belong anywhere.

Why did so many Indians live in South Africa?

Many Indians came to South Africa in the 19th century to work on the sugar cane plantations and stayed when their work was no longer needed. Some of them were still treated like slaves.

At the same time, however, merchants, traders and other Indians came to the country and did their business there.

The famous Indian Mahatma Gandhi also worked as a lawyer in South Africa before he liberated India from British rule without violence. He did not start his first “peaceful revolution” in India, but in South Africa.

Languages in South Africa

There are eleven official languages ​​in South Africa, which is also due to the diverse mix of peoples. The main colloquial language in the country is English. Depending on the region, another language is predominant, for example Zulu (the language of the Zulu) on the east coast, Xhosa (language of the Xhosa) in the southeast or Sesotho in the middle of the country.

Afrikaans is the language of the Boers. Today 14 out of 100 South Africans speak this language. In this language, ancient Dutch expressions mixed with Malay and African.

Religions in South Africa

Most South Africans are Christians, 80 out of 100. Most of them belong to a Protestant church. But many still cling to the old natural religions. So many people turn to healers instead of doctors when they are sick. These are called sangomas. There are also few Hindus and Muslims in the Asian population in the country.

South Africa Overview

South Africa, located at the southern tip of the African continent, is renowned for its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and history of struggle against apartheid. The country is famous for its stunning natural beauty, including iconic landmarks such as Table Mountain in Cape Town and the vast savannahs of Kruger National Park. South Africa’s vibrant cities, such as Johannesburg and Durban, offer a blend of modernity and tradition, with bustling markets, world-class restaurants, and vibrant arts scenes. With its mix of cultures, languages, and histories, South Africa remains a fascinating destination for travelers seeking adventure, wildlife, and cultural experiences.

  • Capital City: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
  • Population: Approximately 59 million
  • Area: 1,219,090 square kilometers
  • Full Country Name: Republic of South Africa
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Language: 11 official languages including isiZulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, English
  • ISO Country Codes: ZA, ZAF

Bordering Countries of South Africa

South Africa is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. To the south of South Africa lies the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Namibia is located to the northwest of RSA and is a desert country with a population of around 2.5 million people. It has an impressive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes such as Fish River Canyon and Etosha National Park. Namibia is also home to some of the world’s largest diamond mines.

Botswana borders RSA to the northeast and has a population of just over two million people. The country is known for its wildlife conservation efforts with large reserves such as Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta and Central Kalahari Game Reserve which are home to an array of animals from elephants to zebras. Botswana also has a unique culture with traditional crafts that are still practiced today, including basket weaving and pottery making.

Zimbabwe lies on RSA’s eastern border and has a population of approximately 14 million people. It is known for its diverse landscape which includes tropical forests, majestic mountains, vast savannahs and rolling hillsides. Zimbabwe also boasts some spectacular archaeological sites such as Great Zimbabwe which was once one of Southern Africa’s largest cities in pre-colonial times. Additionally, Victoria Falls – located on Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia – attracts thousands of tourists each year due to its spectacular beauty.

Mozambique borders RSA to the east and has a population of around 30 million people. This former Portuguese colony offers stunning beaches along its 1 500 km coastline as well as vibrant cities such as Maputo which offer art galleries, museums, churches and markets selling local crafts among other attractions. Inland Mozambique offers game reserves such as Gorongosa National Park where visitors can catch sight of wild animals including elephants, lions, buffalos and more.

Finally, Swaziland lies on South Africa’s eastern border with a population of around 1 million people making it one of Africa’s smallest countries in terms of size and population density. Despite its size Swaziland offers many attractions for travellers from traditional African villages where you can get up close with locals to nature reserves full wild animals such as rhinos or even unique cultural sites like Lion Rock Mountain or Mantenga Cultural Village where you can find out more about Swazi culture through music performances or guided tours through traditional huts used by locals centuries ago.


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