South Africa | Facts & Information

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff

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Facts & Figures

  • President: Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (2018)

    Total area: 470,693 sq mi (1,219,090 sq km), Land area: 468,909 sq mi (1,214,470 sq km), Water area: 1,783 sq mi (4,620 sq km).

    Population (2022 est.): 57,516,665 (growth rate: 0.93%); birth rate: 18.56/1000; infant mortality rate: 25.87/1000; life expectancy: 65.32; density per sq mi: 109.8 (2011)

    Administrative capital (2022 est.): Pretoria, 2.74 million; Legislative capital: Cape Town, 4.801 million. Judicial capital: Bloemfontein, 556,000. No decision has been made to relocate the seat of government. South Africa is demarcated into nine provinces, consisting of the Gauteng, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu/Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Free State. Each province has its own capital.

    Other large cities: Johannesburg includes Ekurhuleni, 10.110 million; Durban, 3.199 million; Port Elizabeth, 1.281 million; West Rand, 909,000 (2022).

    Monetary unit: Rand

    Current government officials

    Languages: isiZulu (official) 25.3%, isiXhosa (official) 14.8%, Afrikaans (official) 12.2%, Sepedi (official) 10.1%, Setswana (official) 9.1%, English (official) 8.1%, Sesotho (official) 7.9%, Xitsonga (official) 3.6%, siSwati (official) 2.8%, Tshivenda (official) 2.5%, isiNdebele (official) 1.6%, other (includes Khoi, Nama, and San languages) 2%; note - data represent language spoken most often at home (2018 est.)

    Ethnicity/race: Black African 80.9%, Colored 8.8%, White 7.8%, Indian/Asian 2.6% (2021 est.)

    Religions: Christian 86%, ancestral, tribal, animist, or other traditional African religions 5.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other 1.5%, nothing in particular 5.2% (2015 est.)

    Literacy rate: 95% (2019 est.)

    Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2020 est.): $680.04 billion; per capita $11,500. Real growth rate: .06%. Inflation: 4.1%. Unemployment: 28.53%. Arable land: 9.9%. Agriculture: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products. Labor force: 14.687 million (2020 est.); agriculture 4.6%, industry 23.5%, services 71.9% (2014 est.). Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair. Natural resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas. Exports: $93.01 billion (2020 est.): gold, diamonds, platinum, other metals and minerals, machinery and equipment. Major trading partners (exports): China 15%, United Kingdom 8%, Germany 7%, United States 6%, India 6% (2019). Imports: $77.86 billion (2020 est.): machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, scientific instruments, foodstuffs. Major trading partners (imports): China 18%, Germany 11%, United States 6%, India 5% (2019).

    Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 2,098,802 (2020); mobile cellular: 96,972,500 (2019). Radio broadcast stations: AM 14, FM 347 (plus 243 repeaters), shortwave 1 (2007). Radios: 17 million (2001). Television broadcast stations: 556 (plus 144 network repeaters) (1997). Televisions: 6 million (2000). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4.761 million (2012). Internet users: 41,516,083 (2020).

    Transportation: Railways: total: 20,986 km (2014). Roadways: total: 750,000 km; paved: 750,000 km; unpaved: 591,876 km (2016). Ports and harbors: Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay. Airports: 407 (2021).

    International disputes: South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration; the governments of South Africa and Namibia have not signed or ratified the text of the 1994 Surveyor's General agreement placing the boundary in the middle of the Orange River.

    Major sources and definitions