Trade Union Forum


General overview

According to the State Bureau of Statistics, more than 59,822,935 (fifty-nine million eight hundred twenty-two thousand nine hundred thirty-five) people live in the country. The country ranks 25th in the world in terms of population, it is home to 0.76% of the world's population. The country has a natural population growth.

The male population in the country is 49.5% (29.6 million people), the female population is 50.5% (30.1 million people). The average life expectancy is 50 years for men and 48 years for women.

In the beginning of 2021, the country's population was divided into the following age groups:

  • under 15 (28.5 %)
  • from 15 to 65 years (65.8%)
  • over 64 years (5.7%)

Racial composition and religion

Racial composition

In terms of racial, national, linguistic, cultural and religious characteristics, the population of the country is heterogeneous. Officially, the population is divided into 4 groups:

  • Africans (over 80%),
  • White (over 10%),
  • Mulattoes (less than 7%),
  • Asians (less than 3%).

Multiple ethnic groups represent Africans in the country. The largest ethnic groups are Zulu (Natal province and surrounding areas), Xhosa (south of the country), Soto (the enclave of Lesotho within South Africa), Pedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, Ndebele and others. They all speak Bantu languages. Living in the highly detached separate settlements, indigenous peoples of the country – Hottentots and Bushmen have preserved their exotic culture and way of life. Many tribes of South Africa live in isolation.

The white population consists of descendants of colonial immigrants: Dutch, German, French, Huguenot and English. They are divided into Afrikaners, Danes, and Anglo-Africans – the descendants of British colonists.

Indians – the descendants of workers brought in the XIX century to work on sugar plantations, represent Asians in South Africa. This group is called Natal.

Mulattoes or “people of color” in South Africa are people of mixed races, descended from slaves brought from East and Central Africa, African aborigines, whites with a mixture of Malays, Hindus and other Asians. Most of the "colored" people speak Afrikaans.


South Africa is a secular country; however, major religions are present on its territory:

  • Christianity of various confessions (81.2%),
  • Atheism (14.8%),
  • Islam (1.7%),
  • Hinduism (1.1%),
  • Buddhism (0.2%),
  • Judaism (0.1%),
  • About 0.4% of the population adheres to local traditional religions.

Official language

There are 11 official languages in South Africa. The list includes the languages of the nations and ethnic groups that inhabit the country: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi, Soto, Tswana, Swazi, Venda, and Tsonga. The most common language is Zulu. The second most used language is Xhosa. The majority of the population speaks English as well.