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South Africa: Facts & Stats

DEMOGRAPHICS | Economy | Transportation | Culture



Population: 48 million inhabitants (20007)
Density: 36 inhabitants per sq. km

The five largest cities are:
  1. Johannesburg 3,225,812
  2. Durban 3,090,117
  3. Cape Town 2,893,251
  4. East Rand 2,480,282
  5. Pretoria 1,985,984


South Africa’s welfare system is exceptional amongst middle-income and developing countries. It provides generous means-tested noncontributory old-age pensions for the elderly, disability grants for those too ill or incapacitated to work, and child support grants for the care-givers of children. Approximately 10 million social grants are paid out each month, amounting to about 3% of the Gross Domestic Product. But despite this relatively generous level of social assistance, pressure on the welfare system continues to grow – most notably on disability grants which rose from about 600,000 in 2000 to almost 1.3 million in 2004.

This is in part a consequence of the Aids epidemic. South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. According to the ASSA2003 demographic model, by 2004, half a million new Aids sick cases were occurring each year. Many of these people were able to access disability grants. A recent analysis of a sample of disability grant files reported that the number of disability grants for people suffering from ‘retroviral disease’ or who were ‘immune-compromised’ rose from 27% in 2001 to 41% in 2003.

The South African Red Cross renders emergency, health, and community services, and operates ambulance services, senior citizens' homes, and air rescue services across the nation, but primarily in urban areas. Some areas also have twenty-four-hour-a-day poison control centers, child-assistance phone services, rape crisis centers, and suicide prevention programs.


South Africa has 12 million learners, 366 000 teachers and around 28 000 schools - including 390 special needs schools and 1 000 registered private schools. Of all the schools, 6 000 are High schools (grade 8 to grade 12) and the rest are Primary schools (grade 1 to grade 7).

Formal education in South Africa is categorized according to three levels – General Education and Training (GET), Further Education and Training (FET) and Higher Education (HE).

In 2008, there were 21 677 private-school candidates registered to write the Senior Certificate. In 2007, 14 364 private-school candidates passed the Senior Certificate examination and 5 869 passed with endorsement. In 2008, there were 8 174 private-school candidates registered to write the Independent Examinations Board exam. In 2007, 7 034 private-school candidates passed the exam and 5 663 passed with endorsement.


South Africa has a wide mix of religions. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of South Africa's population. The traditional spiritualities of the Khoisan and Bantu speakers were succeeded in predominance by the Christianity introduced by the Dutch and, later, British settlers. Islam was introduced by the Cape Malay slaves of the Dutch settlers, Hinduism was introduced by the indentured servants imported from the Indian subcontinent, and Buddhism was introduced by both Indians and Chinese immigrants. The Bahá'í Faith was introduced in 1911 grew after Bahá'ís from Canada, the United States and Germany settled in the country.

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