IMG_0701How far is it from Cape Town to Johannesburg?  That’s the question that provoked me to dig into Google Earth, Wiki and the CIA Factbook to turn up some basic information.

Cape Town to Jo’burg is 1260 km, 784 miles (as the crow flies).  To put that into perspective, our Vancouver Island where we live is 450 km, 280 miles top to bottom.  From Vancouver city on the west coast, 1260 km east takes you to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan which won’t mean much to anybody but us Canadians!

Canada’s population as of Oct. 2012 is 35 million people, the 35th most populous country in the world according to Wiki on-line encyclopedia.  This source says that South Africa is the 24th most populous at 51.8 million in 2011.  The CIA Factbook has a different estimate, 48.8 million as of 2012.  The reason for the discrepancy is unknown, but may be due to the difficulty in counting people when so many are on the move from rural to urban areas and living in shanty towns or townships.  The CIA Factbook states that 62% of the country’s population lives in urban areas as of 2010, increasing annually by 1-2%.  3.6 million live in Johannesburg (est. 2009) which is the most populous urban area, another 3.1 M live in Ekurhuleni which is an urban area immediately adjacent to the east boundary of Jo’burg, 3.4 million in Cape Town, 2.8 M in Durban and 1.4 M in the capital at Pretoria.

Another discrepancy.  Wiki indicates that 8.9% of the population is white.  CIA Factbook says 9.6% white, 79% black, 8.9% coloured, and 2.5% Indian/Asian.

The CIA Factbook notes 11 official languages, with IsiZulu most common among 23.8% of the population, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.4%, Sepedi 9.4% and English 8.2%.    There are another 6 official languages.

Disquieting numbers contributing to social unrest; the 2012 estimated general unemployment rate is 24.4% – among youths aged 15 to 24 the estimated unemployment rate is 48.2%.  50% of South Africa’s population lives below the poverty line.  In Feb. 2013 a Business Report article in iol.co.za indicated, “…there were 15 million people on welfare grants and just over 6.1 million income tax taxpayers.”

The 2009 estimated HIV/AIDs rate is 17.8%, 5th highest in the world following Swaziland at 25.9%, Botswana 24.8%, Lesotho 23.6% and Zimbabwe at 14.3%.

The government’s State of the Nation in numbers as of 2013.  As with all government numbers, treat it with caution!

May 15, 2013 update.  South Africa’s population reaches 53 million.



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