South Africa by Population Group

The table below gives a sharp picture of the distribution of population by Population Group in South Africa's different provinces (see key below table for abbreviations.)


With regard to Population Group two things are particularly striking:


One is the relative size and distribution of the White population. The White population accounts for 8.9% of the population and is concentrated in the two richest provinces, Gauteng Province and Western Cape;


The second is the overwhelming concentration of the Coloured population in Western Cape with smaller groupings in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng.


For more on the Eastern Cape see The Eastern Cape and the Defeat of the Xhosa


And for more on the Coloured population see Langauge and Identity

and Western Cape: Slaughter, Slavery and Segregation.

GP - Gauteng Province

KZN KwaZulu-Natal

EC Eastern Cape

WC Western Cape

LP Limpopo

MP Mpumalanga

NW North West

FS Free State

NC Northern Cape



Data for first language spoken for the 2011 Census shows the complexity of South Africa's ethnic and linguistic make-up.


The chart below shows first languages spoken by percentage of population. IsiZulu and IsiXhosa lead the way, with Afrikaans and English third and fourth, follwed by seven other Black African languages.


Variation by first language by province reveals a wide range of differences. For example nearly 50% of the Western Cape speak Afrikaans as their first language whereas 78.8 of Eastern Cape and 77.8 of KwaZulu-Natal speak IsiXhosa and IsiZulu respectively as their first languages.


Language by population group is also interesting. Afrikaans is the first language of 76% of the Coloured population, 61% of the White population and only 1% of the Black African population. English is the first language of 21% of the Coloured population, 86.1% of the Indian or Asian population, 36% of the White population and only 3% of the Black African population.


The table below shows the shockingly high levels of unemployment in South Africa in Quarter four 2011. The unemployment rate for men was 25.6% and for women 34.6%.


Differential rates by population group reflect the old Apartheid divisions with striking effect.


Youth unemployment is often described in the media as a 'ticking bomb': in Q4 2011 it was 64.9% for 15-19 year-olds and 48.6% for 20-24 year-olds by the 'Official' measure and even more by the 'Expanded' measure.

Unemployment 2011

Black African Coloured Indian/Asian     White South Africa
Men 30.5 21 9.7 5 25.6
Women 41.2 23.8 14.5  6.9 34.6
Quarterly Labour Force Survey Q4 2011        


In 2011 there were still 1.963m households (13.6%) in South Africa living in informal dwellings and 1.14m households (7.9%) living in traditional dwellings made of traditional materials.  That is combined a total of 21.5% of households who continue to live in informal or traditional dwellings.