South Africa is one of Africa's richest
countries in terms of GDP per person, but the gaps in
society are still very large as a result of the earlier
racial segregation policy (see History). Most whites
have a high standard of living, while a significant
proportion of blacks live in slumed townships or in poor
However, according to Statistics South Africa, the
number of people living in absolute poverty is
decreasing. The number of South Africans in that
category has decreased from twelve million to ten
million in five years.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in South Africa, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The most important reason is that social security
contributions have increased significantly. Since the
abolition of apartheid, the number of people in
households reached by social assistance has increased
from 2.7 to 16 million. Approximately every third
household has the state's largest source of income.
Since 1994, 2.9 million detached houses have been
built with government subsidies to try to eradicate the
slums, but there are still areas of shelter housing
around every South African city. A down side of free or
subsidized housing has been the acceleration of
urbanization. The poor suburbs have grown, while the
countryside is depleted.
During the 20 years that have passed since apartheid,
a black middle class has gradually emerged. Nowadays,
black people make up 51 percent of the middle class
compared to 32 percent in 1994. At the same time, a new
category of poor whites has emerged.
The economic and social tensions have led to
increased alcohol and drug abuse and widespread crime
with many murders, rapes, robberies and car hijackings.
South Africa is one of the ten most violent countries in
the world, in terms of number of homicides per
inhabitant. According to the BBC, the number of murders
amounted to 58 per day in 2019. Only countries such as
Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador and some small countries
in the Caribbean had a higher murder rate.
International drug cartels have made South Africa a
base, while the country's police and judiciary are
struggling with insufficient resources. Today, there are
more than 400,000 security guards working in private
security companies. It is more than the country's police
and army together. One noticeable trend is also how more
and more localities are organizing neighborhood
cooperation against crime.
South Africa has very high statistics on rape. Only
in countries at war, sexual violence is the same,
according to the organization Doctors Without Borders.
According to statistics, 40 percent of South Africa's
women will be raped sometime during their lifetime. The
government has been criticized for not acting against
the many rapes. Before Jacob Zuma became president, he
himself was charged with rape but was acquitted in the
Grants and healthcare
State retirement pensions are paid to anyone over 60
years of age. The maximum amount corresponds to
approximately SEK 1000 per month. There are also child
allowances of SEK 200 per child per month for low-income
Private healthcare is of high quality. Most people
who use private care have private health insurance.
However, the poor are referred to the state primary
care, which is now free of charge for about four fifths
of the population. Health care is better developed in
cities than in rural areas.
Alternative medicine and traditional so-called
medicine men are still important. Thousands of doctors
have emigrated and the shortage of doctors is great,
especially in rural areas.
HIV and AIDS are South Africa's worst plague,
medically, socially and economically. South Africa has
the largest number of known HIV infections of all
countries in the world. The black population is the
Former President Thabo Mbeki did not want to
acknowledge the medical link between HIV and AIDS. He
blamed the abnormally high death toll on poverty and
social inequality from the apartheid era. The attitude
meant that HIV-infected pregnant women were not given
brake medication. However, after the government lost a
legal dispute in 2002, women were given the right to be
treated with brake medication to prevent the spread of
HIV to unborn children.
According to a study conducted at the American
University of Harvard, Mbeki's opposition to allowing
brake medications has caused premature deaths in 330,000
people during the period 2000-2005.
When Mbeki resigned in the fall of 2008, his
controversial health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang,
also resigned, claiming that AIDS can be treated with
garlic and beetroot. After Mbeki, AIDS policy has
completely changed and brake medicine is also
distributed within the state healthcare system. The
availability of brake medicines has led to an expected
life expectancy of ten years since Mbeki's reign, from
52 to 62 years. But the proportion of infected continues
to increase. According to a research report, this is
because brake medications prolong the lives of those who
carry the virus.
In 2006, the South African Parliament passed a law
that allows same-sex people to marry. South Africa
became the first in Africa with such a team. The
decision was preceded by an upset debate because the
opposition to gay marriage is strong in all ethnic
groups and religious communities.
Reading tips - read more about South
Africa in UI's web magazine The Foreign Magazine.
Changing lifestyle creates new health problems in
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
29 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
20.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
11.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
3.7 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
84.7 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
75.7 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
8.2 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 428 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
42 percent (2018)