Infographic: The population of South Africa’s nine provinces

The population of each of South Africa’s nine provinces varies enormously. According to Statistics South Africa’s 2017 population estimates, the most populous provinces are Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and the emptiest the Northern Cape and Free State.

Bar graph and pie chart comparing the different populations of each of South Africa's nine provinces in 2017. The provinces are the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.

The most striking difference is between Gauteng and the Northern Cape. Gauteng is a city region of just 18,178 square kilometres, 1.4% of South Africa’s land area, yet it’s home to over a quarter of the country’s people. The Northern Cape takes up almost a third of South Africa, but it is a region of arid wilderness and hardscrabble farmland in which only 2.1% of the population live.

Then there’s KwaZulu-Natal, home to almost a fifth of the population, and the Free State, home to only 5%.

In 2017 South Africa’s provincial populations, and their share of the total, were:

  • Eastern Cape: 6,497,100 (11.5%)
  • Free State: 2,889,900 (5.1%)
  • Gauteng: 14,273,800 (25.3%)
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 11,067,500 (19.6%)
  • Limpopo: 5,774,600 (10.2%)
  • Mpumalanga: 4,442,500 (7.9%)
  • Northern Cape: 1,213,500 (2.1%)
  • North West: 3,854,400 (6.8%)
  • Western Cape: 6,508,700 (11.5%)

Read more: South Africa’s population

Written and designed by Mary Alexander.
Updated 27 February 2018.


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