Fast Knowledgeable Facts About South Africa

Proudly South African

A nation of over 50-million people of a range of population groups, speaking 11 different languages, all living in a country of 1.2-million square kilometres. Welcome to South Africa! (Image: South African Tourism)

Key facts

  • Official name: Republic of South Africa
  • Population: 51.8-million (Census 2011) • 56.5-million (2017 mid-year population estimates)
  • Currency: Rand (ZAR). One rand (R) = 100 cents
  • Time: Two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
  • Measures: metric system
  • Internet domain: .za

Geography

  • Capital cities: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)
  • Land area: 1,219,090 square kilometres
  • Coastline: 2,798 kilometres
  • Neighbouring countries: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho
  • Oceans: Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean
  • Climate: Temperate

Population

According to the most recent census, Census 2011, South Africa’s population stands at 51,770,560 people. The 2017 mid-year population estimate puts it at 56.5-million.

CENSUS 2011
Population group Number % of total
African 41 000 938 79.2%
Coloured 4 615 401 8.9%
White 4 586 838 8.9%
Indian/Asian 1 286 930 2.5%
TOTAL 51 770 560 100%

 

Languages

South Africa’s Constitution recognises 11 official languages, to which it guarantees equal status.

SOUTH AFRICAN LANGUAGES 2011
Language Number of speakers* % of total
Afrikaans 6 855 082 13.5%
English 4 892 623 9.6%
isiNdebele 1 090 223 2.1%
isiXhosa 8 154 258 16%
isiZulu 11 587 374 22.7%
Sepedi 4 618 576 9.1%
Sesotho 3 849 563 7.6%
Setswana 4 067 248 8%
Sign language 234 655 0.5%
SiSwati 1 297 046 2.5%
Tshivenda 1 209 388 2.4%
Xitsonga 2 277 148 4.5%
Other 828 258 1.6%
TOTAL 50 961 443** 100%

* Spoken as a home language
** Unspecified and not applicable are excluded
Source: Census 2011

Provinces

South Africa has nine provinces, which vary considerably in size.

PROVINCES BY LAND AREA
Province Area % of total
Eastern Cape 169 580 km² 13.9%
Free State 129 480 km² 10.6%
Gauteng 17 010 km² 1.4%
KwaZulu-Natal 92 100 km² 7.6%
Limpopo 123 910 km² 10.2%
Mpumalanga 79 490 km² 6.5%
Northern Cape 361 830 km² 29.7%
North West 116 320 km² 9.5%
Western Cape 129 370 km² 10.6%
TOTAL 1 219 090 km² 100%

 

PROVINCES BY POPULATION
CENSUS 2011
Province Population % of total
Eastern Cape 6 562 053 12.7%
Free State 2 745 590 5.3%
Gauteng 12 272 263 23.7%
KwaZulu-Natal 10 267 300 19.8%
Limpopo 5 404 868 10.4%
Mpumalanga 4 039 939 7.8%
Northern Cape 1 145 861 2.2%
North West 3 509 953 6.8%
Western Cape 5 822 734 11.3%
TOTAL 51 770 560 100%

 

Democracy

  • Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
  • National legislature: Bicameral Parliament elected every five years, comprising a 400-seat National Assembly and a 90-seat National Council of Provinces.
  • Electoral system: List-system of proportional representation based on universal adult suffrage.
  • Elections: National elections were held in 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. The next national election will take place in 2019.
  • Head of state: The President is elected by the National Assembly. Under the Constitution, the President is permitted to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.
  • Highest court: Constitutional Court

Education

School life spans 13 years or grades, from grade 0, otherwise known as grade R or “reception year”, through to grade 12 or “matric” – the year of matriculation.

Under the South African Schools Act of 1996, education is compulsory for all South Africans from the age of seven (grade 1) to age 15, or the completion of grade 9.

According to Census 2011, the percentage of people aged 20 or older who have higher education increased from 8.4% in 2001 to 12.1% in 2011 The number of those who matriculated increased from 20.4% to 28.5%. Those who had no schooling at all decreased from 17.9% to 8.6%.

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