#WorldPopulationDay: 5 facts about how SA’s population is changing


Today, 11th July, marks the 28th annual observance of World Population Day, a day established by the UN to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.

The world’s global population reached 7.5 billion few months ago.

To mark the day locally, we’ve rounded a few interesting facts about how the South African population has changed and continues to change over the years.

Total population

In 1960, South Africa’s total population was 17.4 million. By 1994, at the dawn of democracy, it had doubled to 38.2 million. The latest statistics provided by Stats SA, estimated the population to be 55.9 million.

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The black African population is in the majority with 45.11 million people and constitutes approximately 81% of the total South African population. The white population is estimated at 4.52 million, while the coloured population is estimated 4.9 million with the Indian/Asian population at 1.39 million.

Rapid urbanisation

According to research by Brand South Africa, the country has a much higher level of urbanisation (64%) than China (at 54%), India (at 32%), and Nigeria (at 47%).

Median age

Overall, Africa has the youngest population on the entire planet. According to the World Factbook, compiled by the CIA, South Africa’s population median age is 25.7, which is actually among the oldest on the continent. Check the median age map below.

Joburg’s population growth over a century

Johannesburg is South Africa’s most populus city, located in the most populus province. What was supposed to a temporary tent town for European gold miners in the 1800s turned out to be one of the most powerful destinations in Africa.

This video shows how the city’s population grew between 1900 and 2014. The video was created by researchers at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the NYU Stern Urbanization Project using data compiled for The Atlas of Urban Expansion project.

Over 50% of the population has access to the internet

South Africa’s internet population grew rapidly from 2009 to 2016, thanks to a number of factors including the availability of cheaper smartphones.

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In 2009, only 10% of the population had access to an internet connection either via mobile or PC. By 2016, that number multiplied five times to 51.9%.

WhatsApp, Facebook and Facebook Messenger are the most accessed social media platforms in the country.

[Image – CC South African Tourism]

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