Infographics: Urban Development in South Africa

URBANET’s latest infographic series takes our readers to South Africa, offering interesting facts and figures about urbanisation in a country with a turbulent history.

Urban and Rural Population

For several decades, both South Africa’s urban and rural population grew almost in parallel, with the rural population being slightly larger than the urban. This changed in 1987, when urban dwellers became the majority, initiating a rapid population growth in South Africa’s cities that soon was accompanied by a decrease in rural population – a trend that continues to this day.

Urbanisation in South Africa – Urban and Rural Population | South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Urbanisation in South Africa – Urban and Rural Population | South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Size of Settlements

South Africa has 15 large cities. Among them, only one – Johannesburg – has more than 5 million inhabitants, while cities with up to one and up to five million people constitute the majority, with six and five cities respectively. There are three cities with populations ranging between 300,000 and 500,000.

Urbanisation in South Africa – Size of Settlements | South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Urbanisation in South Africa – Size of Settlements | South Africa Infographics © GIZ

The 6 Largest Urban Agglomerations in South Africa

The graphic shows the population size of South Africa’s six largest cities in 2015 and 2030, respectively. Johannesburg is projected to remain the most populous city, with an estimated population of almost 7 million. Johannesburg as well as Pretoria and Ekurhuleni are located within the Gauteng City-Region, which is both the smallest and most densely populated province of South Africa.

Urbanisation in South Africa – Largest Cities in South Africa |South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Urbanisation in South Africa – Largest Cities in South Africa |South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Urbanisation in South Africa – Key Figures

Housing and equal access to basic urban services are critical issues in South Africa, where 23 per cent of urban dwellers are estimated to live in informal settlements. South Africa has not one but three capitals, which divide the government into administrative (Tshwane), legislative (Cape Town), and judicial (Bloemfontein) government bases. Johannesburg including its surrounding cities ranks 26th among the world’s largest urban agglomerations. In general, a country with a young median age, most of the its youth – two thirds – live in urban areas. Several years of drought paired with inefficient urban water management threw Cape Town in a severe water crisis in 2018, causing the city to almost run out of water.

Urbanisation in South Africa – Key Figures | South Africa Infographics © GIZ

Urbanisation in South Africa – Key Figures | South Africa Infographics © GIZ