South Africa Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

South Africa: population and cities



According to Countryaah website, South Africa has about 59.6 million residents.

Ethnic groups

About 77% of the residents of South Africa are black Africans or people of color. Blacks include members of the tribes of the Zulu, Xhosa, North Sotho, South Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, Swasi, Ndebele and Venda.

The 9% colored include the descendants of connections between black Africans and former slaves, e.g. from Indonesia, Malaysia or with whites. About 10% of the population are white and 4% are Asian.


The country’s population is around 85% Christian (African Church, Reformed Dutch Church, Anglican Church, Methodists and Catholics). In addition, about 10% are followers of natural religions, 1.8% Hindus and 1.2% Muslims.

National languages

The 11 official languages of South Africa are Zulu (approx. 24%), Xhosa (approx. 17.5%), Afrikaans (approx. 13%), English (approx. 8%), Ndebele (approx. 1.5%), North Sotho and South Sotho (approx. 8%), Setswana (approx. 8%), Swati (approx. 3%), Tsonga (approx. 4%) and Venda (approx. 2.5%).

About 9% of the country’s population speak Sepedi. Indian is a minority language.

Capital and other cities

Pretoria (also Tshwane)

The seat of government of South Africa is Pretoria, with a population of approx. 2 million – in the metropolitan area even over 2.5 million. According to Abbreviation Finder, ZAF stands for South Africa in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.

seat of parliament is however Cape Town with approx. 8 million

Surrounded by protective hills and located in the middle of the fertile Apies Valley, Pretoria is about 50 kilometers north of Johannesburg and offers a harsh contrast to the always hectic, always turbulent “Jo’Burg” (Johannesburg). The population of Pretoria consists to a not insignificant part of civil servants, which is reflected not only in the nickname “civil servants city”, but also in the somewhat staid atmosphere. It is therefore a preferred place for a little break, which the traveler needs in his often exhausting and overwhelming discovery of South Africa’s natural and cultural wonders. Pretoria doesn’t have much to offer that are absolutely worth seeing. Only the months of October and November make a visit mandatory, because then the 70 or so bloom here in the city. 000 jacaranda trees and bathe all of Pretoria in a violet light.


Historians are still not entirely in agreement about where the name Bloemfontein (fountain of flowers) comes from. It is said that Voortrekker Johannes Nicolaas Brits named his farm Bloemfontein in 1840 because it was located at a spring that was surrounded by flowers. Because of its geographically practical location in the middle of the province of Free State, Bloem – the popular short form of the city – is (sometimes only) a stopover between Cape Town and Johannesburg for numerous touristsThe city of birth of the Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien is a sight enough in itself. In addition, the capital of the Free State Province is also the seat of the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal and is therefore often referred to as the court capital of South Africa.


South Africa’s second largest city with 3.1 million people is a delightfully vibrant, lively experience for any visitor. Colonial gems in a modern city center, long, exuberant sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean, the cheapest food in all of South Africa and the mildest air and water temperatures in all of South Africa make the city a real experience. The largest Indian community outside of the subcontinent now lives in Durban – the Zulus call the city eThekwini, which means lagoon. Indeed, the influence of the Indians in the city life of the holiday metropolis can be felt in many places.


Johannesburg is 56 kilometers from Pretoria and stands in absolute contrast to the somewhat staid capital. “Jo’burg”, as it is also called. Johannesburg is a turbulent and seething metropolis and is always worth a visit. The entertainment complex Gold Reef City, the Carlton Center with its 50 floors, the Market Theater and the Museum Africa are particularly worth seeing.

Cape Town

Cape Town is the seat of Parliament. The ethnic mix of Cape Town is colorful: around half of the population are Coloreds, mixed-blooded South Africans who are the descendants of white settlers from Europe, black natives and imported slaves from Asia. Black and whites are minorities in Cape Town. For this and many other reasons, many say that Cape Town does not represent the “real Africa” for them. Flora and fauna are more like those in the Mediterranean countries, and there is a mild, varied climate here instead of dusty -dry or humid and humid heat. First-class wines are produced in the Cape region and the overall lifestyle is rather leisurely, unlike in the gold rush region in the southeast.

Port Elizabeth

The fifth largest city in South Africa and largest city in the Eastern Cape Province, with around 738,000 residents, is a picturesque and relatively safe experience for anyone visiting the area. Homely and somehow enchanted, it hugs the Algoa Bay on the Indian Ocean, the coast of which joins the city for around 16 kilometers. In its dominant presence, the giant body of water also influences the everyday life of city residents and pampers them with seemingly endless, fine white sandy beaches, some of which even extend into the urban area. The range of water sports that you can pursue in Port Elizabeth seems to be unlimited, as the city is also known as Africa’s Watersport Capital. South Africa’s Windy City (Ger. Windy City) or Friendly City is also surrounded by impressive townships and in many places structured by the elevated motorway that separates the Central Business District from the Indian Ocean.


This acronym stands for South Western Township. Soweto is a city of two million people: a network of communities and districts in which only blacks live. During the apartheid regime, black people were ordered to leave the center and other neighborhoods such as Sophiatown, as these were to become so-called “white quarters”. Soweto is now one of the poorest parts of Johannesburg. For safety reasons, tourists should only visit Soweto in conjunction with a guided tour.

South Africa: geography, map

The Republic of South Africa is located in the south of the African continent. In the south-west of the country, completely surrounded by South Africa, is the Kingdom of Lesotho. Despite its location, the kingdom was never part of South Africa. South Africa covers a total area of 1,219,912 km². Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of South Africa. Thereof:

  • ForestAround 7% of the country is forested.
  • Meadow and pasture landAround 67% of the land is used as meadows or pasture land.
  • Fields and fieldsAround 13% of the land is used as arable land or fields, especially for growing fruit, vegetables, sugar cane and grain. In addition, wine is grown and wool and meat are produced.Because of the extremely high murder rate on the white farms – over 3,000 of them have been murdered since 1994 – only around 30,000 of around 60,000 farms are left. However, due to their lack of experience, black farmers currently only earn 10 to 20% of that of their white competitors.
  • DesertThe Kalahari covers an area of around 1 million km². The largest part, however, is in Botswana and Namiba. Strictly speaking,large parts of the Kalahari are nature reserves, such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in the border area between South Africa and Namibia, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana and the Okavango River Delta in northwestern Botswana.

    Strictly speaking, the Kalahari is more of a thorn bush savannah or dry savannah than a desert.

The state has a common border with the following six states:

Botswana with a length of 1,840 km,

– Lesotho with a length of 909 km,

– Mozambique with a length of 491 km,

– Namibia with a length of 967 km,

– Swaziland with a length of 430 km and

– Zimbabwe with a length of 225 km.


The highest mountain in the country is the 3,451 m high Mafadi on the border with Lesotho in the Drakensberg. The southernmost point is Cape Agulhas between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.


South Africa has a coast to the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean – a part of the Pacific Ocean – with a total length of around 2,800 km.

Tidal range in South Africa

On the coasts of South Africa the tidal range is about 1 to 2 m.

For detailed explanations of ebb and flow, see Tides, Ebb and Flow.


The world’s highest tidal range can be found in the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where it is up to 16 m, and at spring tide even over 20 m. The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is called Nova Scotia in German and whose capital is Halifax.

On the German North Sea coast it varies between 1 m and 3 m. In the western Baltic Sea, on the other hand, the tidal range is only 0.3 m, while it is barely noticeable in the eastern Baltic Sea.

Longitude and latitude of South Africa

South Africa extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from around 22 ° to 35 ° 08 ‘southern latitude Δλ = from around 016 ° 26` to 032 ° 50` eastern longitude

You can find detailed information on this subject under Longitude and Latitude.

Legal time

The following value applies to South Africa compared to Central European Time (CET). A minus sign means that it is earlier there, a plus sign that it is later than CET:

Δ t (CET) = + 1 h

Further and detailed explanations of the time can be found under Time zones, time.

The highest point of the sun in Pretoria

Pretoria lies at a southern latitude of around φ = 26 °.

If the sun, or its image point, is at the southern tropic, i.e. at δ = 23.5 °, summer begins in Pretoria, this is December 21. Then, for the highest position of the sun at noon, according to Eq. 1 (see position of the sun):

-26 ° = – (90 ° – h) + -23.5 °


H = 87.5 °

At 87.5 °, the sun in Pretoria has the highest level of the entire year above the horizon (more precisely: above the horizon).


The image point of the sun and thus its declination is north of the latitude of Pretoria all year round. Therefore the sun is there all year round at noon not in the south, as in our latitudes, but in the north.

In this case, the sun moves from east to north to west, where, like us, it sets.


The highest mountain in the country is the Mafadi on the border with Lesotho with a height of 3,451 m.

Other mountains with heights over 3,000 m are:

  • Ubutsane with a height of 3,435 m
  • Njesuthi with a height of 3,408 m
  • Champagne Castle with a height of 3,378 m
  • Popplepiek with a height of 3,331
  • Giants Castle with a height of 3,312 m
  • Mont-Aux-Sources with a height of 3,299 m
  • Namahadipiek with a height of 3,291 m
  • Monk’s Cowl with a height of 3,266 m
  • Cathkin Peak with a height of 3,183 m
  • Devil’s Knuckles with a height of 3,028 mm
  • Kwaduma with a height of 3,019 m
  • Cathedral Peak with a height of 3,005 m
  • Ben Macdhui with an altitude of around 3,000 m


The longest river in the country is the Orange River with a length of 1,860 km.

Other rivers in the country are:

  • Limpopo with a length of around 1,600 km
  • Vaal with a length of 1,251 km as well
  • Olifantsriver.


The country includes several smaller lakes.

Gariep Reservoir

The largest of these is the Gariep Reservoir with an area of around 360 km².

Reservoir at Vaaldamm

The reservoir at Vaaldamm has an area of about 300 km².

St. Lucia Lake

The largest salt water lake is the St. Lucia Lake with a size of about 350 km².

Lake Sibaya

There are also smaller natural freshwater lakes such as Lake Sibaya.

Lake Chrissie

There are around 270 smaller lakes in the vicinity of Chrissiesmeer, the largest of which is Lake Chrissie.


Prince Edward Islands

The Prince Edward Islands are located between South Africa and Antarctica in the Indian Ocean. They consist of Prince Edward Island with an area of 45 km² and Marion Island with an area of 290 km².

Indian Ocean, Atlantic

The country borders the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The geographic border between the two seas is roughly on the 20th meridian at Cape Agulhas, which is also the southernmost place in Africa. The southern latitude of Cape Agulhas is about 34 ° and 50 ‘. A detailed description of the two seas can be found at Goruma under the following links:

– Atlantic Ocean

– Indian Ocean

South Africa Population