Written by Otto Saayman
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SOUTH AFRICA'S POPULATION

South Africa is a nation of over 46-million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages and beliefs.

According to the mid-2005 estimates from Statistics South Africa, the country's population stands at approximately 46.9-million, up from the census 2001 count of 44.8-million.

Africans are in the majority at 37.2-million, constituting 79.4% of the total population. The white population is estimated at 4.4-million (9.3%), the coloured population at 4.1-million (8.8%) and the Indian/Asian population at 1.1-million (2.5%).

While more than three-quarters of South Africa's population is African or black, this category is neither culturally nor linguistically homogenous. Nine of the country's 11 official languages are African, reflecting a variety of tribal/cultural groupings which nonetheless have a great deal in common in terms of background, culture and descent.

Africans include: the Nguni people, comprising the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi; the Sotho-Tswana people, comprising the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana); the Tsonga; and the Venda.

South Africa's white population descends largely from the colonial immigrants of the late 17th, 18th and 19th centuries - Dutch, German, French Huguenot and British. Linguistically it is divided into Afrikaans- and English-speaking groups, although many small communities that have immigrated over the last century retain the use of other languages.

The label "coloured" is a contentious one, but still used for people of mixed race descended from slaves brought in from East and central Africa, the indigenous Khoisan who lived in the Cape at the time, indigenous Africans and whites. The majority speak Afrikaans.

Khoisan is a term used to describe two separate groups, physically similar in being light-skinned and small in stature. The Khoi, who were called Hottentots by the Europeans, were pastoralists and were effectively annihilated; the San, called Bushmen by the Europeans, were hunter-gatherers. A small San population still lives in South Africa.

The majority of South Africa's Asian population is Indian in origin, many of them descended from indentured workers brought to work on the sugar plantations of the eastern coastal area then known as Natal in the 19th century. They are largely English-speaking, although many also retain the languages of their origins. There is also a significant group of Chinese South Africans.

In terms of religious affiliation, about two-thirds of South Africans are Christian, mainly Protestant. They belong to a variety of churches, including many that combine Christian and traditional African beliefs. Many non-Christians espouse these traditional beliefs. Other significant religions are Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.

SA'S POPULATION BY PROVINCE

The mid-2005 population estimates for the other six provinces are:
Eastern Cape    7 million (15%)
Free State    2.9 million (6.3%)
Limpopo    5.6 million (12%)
Mpumalanga    3.2 million (6.9%)
North West    3.8 million (8.2%)
Western Cape    4.6 million (9.9%)
KwaZulu-Natal    9.6 million people (20.6%)
Northern Cape    902 000 (1.9%)
Gauteng    9 million (19.2%)

URBAN VERSUS RURAL
Perhaps surprisingly in a country with comparatively few major urban centres and a great deal of wide open space, slightly more than 50% of South Africa's population live in urban areas.

This is not only because of the number of rural people who have moved to towns to find work, but also because much of that open space is dry and arid.

The most rural province in South Africa is Limpopo. Gauteng, with both Johannesburg and Pretoria within its boundaries, is almost entirely urban. Other areas of high urban concentration are around Cape Town in the Western Cape, Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, Port Elizabeth and East London in the Eastern Cape and, in the interior and Bloemfontein in the Free State.
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Last edited on Thursday 3 August 2017 09:52

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