South Africa Demographics

By | December 11, 2021

South Africa  has a population of 40,284,633 (1994). Of these 30,645,157 are black, 3,435,114 colored, 5,171,419 white and 1,032,943 Asian. The Republic, divided into 9 regions, has considered the states of Transkei (41,600 km 2), Bophuthatswana (40,330 km 2), Venda (7,410 km 2) and Ciskei (12,075 km) as integral part of the national territory since May 1994. 2), which were declared independent in 1976, 1977, 1979 and 1981 respectively, but which have never been recognized as independent states by any international organization.

Blacks, who are in significant increase compared to all other ethnic groups, belong to two large ethnic linguistic families: the Khoisan (Bushmen, Hottentots and Bergdamara), who are the heirs of the first residents of the region, and the Bantu, divided into numerous ethnic groups of which the largest are the Nguli (in turn divided into Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele, Pondo, Tembu and Xhosa), the Sotho and Tswana. Asians are predominantly of Indian origin, while the coloureds they form a group of sanguemisti settled for the most part in the Cape Province. The whites, who dominate the economic and social life of the whole state, are descended for the most part from the Calvinist Dutch who arrived in the Cape area in the 17th century, and to a lesser extent from French Huguenots, from English planters who arrived at the beginning of last century, by Germans and Europeans who arrived here from the English colonies after the decolonization of Africa.

The greatest concentration of population is found in the mining area of ​​the Witwatersrand, where the metropolitan area of ​​Johannesburg exceeds 2,000,000 residents, and in the urban areas of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. 80% of Europeans live in these areas, while Africans mostly live in the neighborhoods that were reserved for them (townships) on the outskirts of the major urban centers or in the Black homelands (or Bantustans), territories with semi-autonomous administration and which in theory should have become independent states, established since 1971 with the aim of separating the areas with exclusively white administration from those with African administration. Their total area, fragmented in many territories separated from each other, is 64,796 km 2(Gazankulu, KwaNdebele, KwaZulu, Lebowa, Qwaqwa and KaNgwane). The settlement system still suffers from the ” separate development ” policy introduced in the 1950s to maintain the domination of the white group over the rest of the population through racial segregation. Only a small part of the investments went to the benefit of these territories and the African population, which therefore has a much lower rate of development than that of the white minority, which for a long time controlled the centers of power and the most productive areas of the state. Apartheid politics is now being dismantled.

Economic conditions. – The wealth of the South Africa lies largely underground. The Precambrian rocks that stretch from the Transvaal to the Cape enclose the richest mining area in the world. Gold (613 t in 1992), silver (182.7 t) and uranium (4104 t of concentrated ore in 1991) are mined in the Witwatersrand and in the northern part of the Orange Free State; the diamond area is concentrated around Kimberley, Pretoria, Jagersfontein and Koffiefontein (10,166,448 carats in 1992, also including industrial diamonds), while the Transvaal produces a large quantity of important minerals (asbestos, copper, chromium, iron, magnesium, nickel, platinum, tin, uranium and vanadium). In the northern part of the Cape Province there are important deposits of manganese, iron and asbestos, while in the In the north-western area of ​​the same province, zinc, lead, silver and copper deposits were discovered in the 1980s: the Sishen-Saldanha Bay railway was built to exploit them more easily. In the late 1970s, gaseous hydrocarbon deposits were also discovered. 8.8% of the workforce (1991) is employed in the mining sector, mostly African and also from Swaziland and Lesotho. For South Africa 2000, please check

12.9% of the active population is employed in agriculture, 30.4% in industries, while the tertiary sector absorbs more than half of the entire workforce. The manufacturing sector, concentrated in large urban districts or near the old homelands, is developed above all in the metallurgical, engineering and means of transport sectors: the development factors are represented by low plant costs, raw materials and manpower, and by company dimensions that allow, especially in the production of steel, costs of very competitive production. The food industry had a great development in the 1920s and 1930s (32% of the net value of the industry in 1925), and after a moment of decline (17% in 1963) it is recovering again. The textile industry is also growing very sensitively. The chemical industry began to develop to produce explosives for mining, but then diversified with the creation of the state-owned South African coal, oil and gas corporation (SASOL), mainly active in the petrochemical and fertilizer sectors. The production and supply of electricity is controlled by the state agency Electricity Supply Commission (ESCOM), which supplies electricity at some of the lowest costs in the world; in 1991 the installed power was 25,854,000 kW, with 22 coal-fired thermoelectric plants, 2 hydroelectric plants, 3 gas plants and a nuclear power plant; South Africa also imports electricity from the Cabora Bassa plants in Mozambique.

The primary sector is in decline compared to the other economic sectors due to the climatic instability which worsened in the 1980s and the continuous variations in the price of agricultural products on world markets. The disastrous drought of the years 1983-84 put in crisis above all the production of corn, which previously fueled the export. Better prospects are for sugar cane, peanuts, tobacco, citrus fruits and fruit, which can be placed on the European market in the winter season. The production of wool (48,500 t in 1992), of excellent quality, remains constant even though the costs of breeding are less and less competitive compared to other regions of the world.

Trade and communication routes. – The trade balance is active thanks to the export of gold, which in value represents about half of total exports. In addition to gold, other mining products, manufacturing industry products, food and livestock products are exported. Imports see machinery and means of transport in first place. European industrial countries are the preferred customers for both imports and exports, followed by the United States and Japan. The exchange with other African countries is less than one twentieth of the total value. The internal transport network connects the urban, mining and industrial areas of the inner plateau very well with the ports (Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town), but a large part of the maritime traffic of the Witwatersrand area uses the port of Maputo in Mozambique. Tourism, which offers excellent accommodation facilities, beautiful parks and nature reserves, beaches and sunshine in the European winter season, is constantly expanding (2,891,721 visitors in 1992).

South African communication routes