Search within this web site:

you are here ::

People, Ethnic Groups

bantustans, Afrikaners, Coloured people, African National Congress, Tsonga

South Africa has a multiracial and multiethnic population. Blacks constitute 77 percent of the population. The main black ethnic groups, with their percentages of the total population, are Zulu (22.4), Xhosa (17.5), North Sotho (9.8), Tswana (7.2), South Sotho (6.9), Tsonga (4.2), Venda (1.7), and Ndebele (1.5). Whites account for 11 percent of the population; more than half are Afrikaners, nearly two-fifths English-speakers (mostly of British descent), and nearly 10 percent Portuguese. Coloured people account for 9 percent of the population, and Asians (mainly Indians) 2 percent.

The white, Asian, and Coloured populations are highly urbanized. The largest concentrations of Asians and Coloured people are found in KwaZulu-Natal and the three Cape provinces, but lesser numbers of both groups live in Gauteng. English-speaking whites and Afrikaners live in all cities, but Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, and Pietermaritzburg have more English-speakers whereas Afrikaners are predominant in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and many of the industrial and mining towns on the Witwatersrand.

More than half of the blacks are urbanized, mostly living in formal, low-income townships or informal, rapidly growing settlements. Some 18 million blacks live in rural communities in the ten former bantustans. Substantial numbers of that population, however, who migrated to the borders of former bantustans to find work in white urban centers, now form part of the functional urban areas of cities like Pretoria, Durban, and East London. The black population of Johannesburg and the of rest of Gauteng Province is ethnically mixed, but in other cities one group tends to be dominant: Zulu in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, Sotho in Bloemfontein, and Xhosa in Port Elizabeth, East London, and Cape Town.

The liberation struggle during the years of white minority rule cemented blacks, Asians, and Coloured people together. With the end of apartheid, however, most Asians and Coloured people, conscious of their minority position, turned to vote for the ruling National Party along with most whites. Africans gave overwhelming support to the African National Congress (ANC) except in KwaZulu-Natal, where the ethnically based Inkatha Freedom Party won more than half the Zulu votes. Given past oppression, the relative harmony of post-apartheid society is generally hailed as remarkable. The violent incidents immediately following 1994 were not between blacks and whites but between the Zulu who supported the ANC and those who supported Inkatha. During 1996 the situation in KwaZulu-Natal became more peaceful.

Article key phrases:

bantustans, Afrikaners, Coloured people, African National Congress, Tsonga, end of apartheid, liberation struggle, Ndebele, mining towns, Tswana, Sotho, Venda, Witwatersrand, Zulu, Xhosa, ANC, percentages, Indians, borders, Bloemfontein, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth, East London, Africans, blacks, whites, total population, Durban, rural communities, cities, Cape Town, South Sotho, Asians, Pretoria, KwaZulu-Natal, situation, half, South Africa, Johannesburg, work, group


Search within this web site: