South Africa has 11 official languages and a multilingual population fluent in at least two. IsiZulu and isiXhosa are the largest languages, while English is spoken at home by only one in 10 people – most of them not white.
This is an animation to break your heart. In any unequal society, the privileged live long lives and everyone else much shorter lives.
Key facts on South Africa’s currency, time, geography, population, languages, provinces, government and education.
The distribution of South Africa’s population groups reveals the country’s history. Find out more with these maps of where black, coloured, Indian and white South Africans live today, according to the 2011 census.
Before South Africa’s 1996 constitution, the country was divided into four provinces set aside for white people, and 10 “homelands”, tiny states designated for black people.
South Africa has 56.5-million people, according to 2017 estimates. The 2011 census puts it at 51.5-million. Black South Africans make up around 81% of the total, coloured people 9%, whites 8% and Indians 3%.
It took one day for young South Africans to change the course of the country’s history. That day was 16 June 1976. Here’s an hour-by-hour account of the events that sparked the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising.
Nearly a third of black South Africans speak isiZulu as a first language, and 20% speak isiXhosa. Three-quarters of coloured people speak Afrikaans, and 86% of Indian South Africans speak English. Sixty percent of white people speak Afrikaans, and 30% speak English.
South Africa has held three official censuses in its recent democratic history: in 1996, 2001 and 2011. The censuses have revealed both a growing population – from 41 million to 52 million – and a significant shift in the country’s racial profile.
Black men have the shortest lives, and white women the longest. Find out more about the country’s population structure with this infographic charting the realities of age, race and sex in South Africa.
In 2017 South Africa was home to 56.5-million people. Black South Africans were the majority at 45.7-million – 80.8% of the total. There were 5-million coloured people (8.7%), 4.5-million whites (7.9%) and 1.4-million Indian South Africans (2.6%).