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South Africa’s People

According to the Mid-Year Population Estimates (2011) of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) there were 50,6 million people in South Africa in July 2011.
The South African population consists of the following groups: the Nguni (comprising the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people); Sotho-Tswana, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana people); Tsonga; Venda; Afrikaners; English; coloureds; Indians; and those who have immigrated to South Africa from the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia and who maintain a strong cultural identity. A few members of the Khoi and the San also live in South Africa.


The diversity of the unique cultures of South Africa means that there are 11 official languages. These are isiZulu (23.8%), isiXhosa (17.6%), Afrikaans (13.3%), Sesotho sa Leboa (9.4%), English (8.2%), Setswana (8.2%), Sesotho (7.9%), Xitsonga (4.4%), siSwati (2.7%), Tshivenda (2.3%) and isiNdebele (1.6%). The Constitution also requires the Pan South African Language Board to promote the use of the Khoi, Nama and San languages, and Sign Language.
Although English is the mother tongue of only 8,2% of the population, it is the language most widely understood, and the second language of the majority of South Africans. However, the South African government is committed to promoting all the official languages.


According to the Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
Almost 80% of South Africa’s population follows the Christian faith. Other major religious groups are the Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. A minority of South Africa’s population do not belong to any of the major religions, but regard themselves as traditionalists of no specific religious affiliation.


For more information on South Africa’s people refer to the South Africa Yearbook 2010/11