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Fast Facts & Quick Stats About South Africa



According to the Open Budget Index 2012, South Africa has the 2nd most transparent budget in the world. In 2010, SA was ranked 1st. (International Budget Partnership)

South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20.

South Africa ranks 5th overall on the 2012 Ibrahim Index which measures the quality of African governance, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles took the first four places out of 52. Nigeria were ranked 42. (Mo Ibrahim Foundation)

South Africa ranks 28th out of 167 countries surveyed in the 2011 Democracy Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ahead of France, Italy, Greece and all of the other BRICS countries.WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 44th most democratic country in 2012 (43rd in 2011).

In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Survey of Democratic Freedom, South Africa ranks 31st out of 184countries. Who are we ahead of?

WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 72nd least corrupt nation out of 175 nations surveyed in 2012, ahead of Italy, Greece and all the other BRICS nations (47th in 2011). Transparency International ranksSouth Africa 92nd out of 150 countries in its corruption perception index 2012 (43rd in 2007, 64th in 2011).

South Africa ranks as the 62nd strongest state out of 177 countries in the Fund for Peace's Failed State Index 2012. (61st in 2011) The index measures state vulnerability based on 12 social, economic, political and military indicators.

"Personal satisfaction" with the country's democracy rose from 49% in 2008 to 60% in 2011, according to the continent wide Afrobarometer research group.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 148 countries, 2009/10 rankings in [ ]):

Transparency of government policymaking 35 [27]

Irregular payments and bribes 47 [48]

Wastefulness of government spending 79 [38]

Diversion of public funds 99 [56]

Public trust in politicians 98 [65]

Gov’t procurement of advanced tech products 105 [103]

Gov’t services for improved business performance 106 [?]

Favouritism in decisions of government officials 110 [114]

Burden of government regulation 120 [69]



South Africa ranked 53rd out of 148 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, down from 50th in 2011/12.

In 2012, at 5.5%, South African interest rates were at a 30-year low.

South African Tax Revenue has increased from R100 billion in 1994 to R1 trillion in 2014.

South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio is 42% (USA 100%, Japan 200%, UK 90%). The World Bank recommends a ratio of 60%.

SA ranks 1st among upper middle-income economies in the World Bank “Connecting to Compete 2012: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy” report. Overall, SA ranks 23 out of 155 countries included in the Logistics Performance Indicators (LPI). Its main competitor on the African continent, Nigeria, is ranked 121.

The South African stock market is ranked 1st in the Global Competitive Report and rose 17.5% in 2013.

SAranked 1st in Platinum output, 2nd in Palladium output, 3rd in Gold output, 6th in Coal output and 9th inwool output. (Economist)

SA is ranked 2nd out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting both borrowers and lenders when obtaining credit for business (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011)

South Africa ranked 6th in house price improvement indices as a % change in 2009, and 1st as a % change 1999/2009. (Economist).

South Africa ranks 7th out of 45 countries in the "Big Mac Index 2012". The price of a Big Mac is 42% less in South Africa than in the USA. In Switzerland and Norway, it is 62% more.

South Africa is ranked 16th out of a total of 135 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012, ahead of many developed nations, including, the UK (18th), United States (22), Canada (21), Australia (25) and France (57). (SA were ranked 14th in 2011)

South Africa ranked 15th in terms of "largest deficits" but as a percentage of GDP is not in the top 40 countries. (Economist).

The JSE ranks 16th in terms of "largest market capitalisation" and 19th in terms of largest gains. (Economist)

SA is ranked 23rd out of 81 countries in the Jones Lang LaSalle's "World's most Transparent Real Estate Markets" placing it well ahead of China, Brazil, India and Russia. "Robust governance, strong auditing and a developed legal system" were cited as the main reasons for leading the developing markets in this rating.

South Africa exported 277,844 vehicles in 2012, the second highest annual export figure on record (Naamsa).

South Africa ranks 24th out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Largest Gold Reserves" Index.

SA ranks 32nd out of 165 countries in terms of the size of its US$ reserves, ahead of Australia, Sweden and Chile. The USA ranks 17th, the UK 23rd, China is ranked 1 (The Economist)

In a survey of 192 countries, South Africa’s unemployment as a percentage of economically active population ranked 27th.

SA ranks 28th in terms of number of cars produced and 18th in terms of number of cars sold. (Economist).

South Africa ranks 41st out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Biggest Exporters" Index.

South Africa ranks 54th in a comparison of the overall tax burden of 150 countries worldwide.

South Africa ranks in the top 20 countries for agricultural output.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 148 countries, 2013/14 rankings in [ ]):

Regulation of securities exchanges 1 [2]

Legal rights index 1 [8]

Availability of financial services 2 [7]

Soundness of banks 3 [6]

Financing through local equity market 2 [4]

Availability of financial services 2 [7]

Domestic market size index 24 [24]

Ease of access to loans 22 [36]

Extent and effect of taxation 16 [28]

Venture capital availability 28 [44]

Foreign market size 38 [39]

Agricultural policy costs.54 [37]

Total tax rate, % profits 47  [48]

Country credit rating 48 [48]

General government debt, % GDP 73 [68]

Inflation, annual % change 100 [76]

Gross national savings, % GDP 111 [87]

Exports as a percentage of GDP 100  [99]



SA is ranked 10th out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting investors in business. (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011).

South Africa is placed 14th in a list of 21 countries ranked by international companies as top prospective investment destinations for 2012 to 2014, according to the 2012 World Investment Report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). 

Employment in the mining industry grew from just under 449,000 in 2004 to a little above 530,000 in June 2012 (Business Day)

South Africa ranked 6th best out of 24 countries in the Contact Center World rankings for 2012, up from 9th in 2011.

South Africa is ranked 34th out of 183 countries for ease of doing business according to Doing Business 2011, a joint publication of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

South Africa is the winner of the National Outsourcing Association’s (NOA’s) Offshoring Destination of the Year Award 2012

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 148 countries, 2009/10 rankings in [ ]):

Strength of auditing and reporting standards 1 [2]

Efficacy of corporate boards 1 [3] 

Protection of minority shareholders’ interests 2 [9]

Strength of investor protection 10 [10]

Reliance on professional management 12 [18]

Business costs of terrorism 28 [33]

No. procedures to start a business 30 [34]

Prevalence of foreign ownership 35 [34] 

Redundancy costs 34 [46]

Local supplier quality 32 [31]

Prevalence of trade barriers 36 [48]

Local supplier quantity 32 [47]

Brain drain 51 [88]

Ethical behaviour of firms 37 [51]

Burden of customs procedures 52 [62] 

Business impact of rules on FDI 83 [55]

Trade tariffs 74 [72]

No. days to start a business 30  [80]

Women in labour force, ratio to men 88 [76]

Pay and productivity 142 [133]

Business costs of crime and violence 141 [133] 

Flexibility of wage determination 144 [123]

Hiring and firing practices 147 [125]

Cooperation in labour-employer relations 148 [121]



South Africa is ranked among the top 3 countries in the world (countries with more than 9 million tourists) in respect of tourism growth (growing at 3 times the global average).

Tourism numbers increased by 10.4% between January and October 2013. A total of 9,535,498 tourists arrived in the country during the period (13.5 Million visitors), compared to 6,823,517 in 2011

SA ranks 24th in terms of visitors at 13.5 million (France 79 million, UK 28 million, Switzerland 8.5 million, India 5.2 million). (Economist)

South Africa is ranked 62nd overall in the latest edition of the World Economic Forum's Travel and Competitiveness Report 2013, which surveys 140 countries on their policies to develop the travel and tourism sector. (66th in 2011).

The Intercontinental Hotel at O.R. Tambo International Airport was named as the winner of the prestigious2012 World Luxury Airport Hotel award at the global tourism industry awards.

Cape Town was named the top tourist destination in the world in the 2013 Traveler’s Choice Destinations awards.

Cape Town has been voted the Favourite City Worldwide for 2013 by 17,000 Telegraph readers in the UK.

The Cape Grace in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town has been named 2nd Best Hotel in the World in the 2013 Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards

Table Mountain was inaugurated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.

Cape Town International is the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2012. O R Tambo International was 2nd and King Shaka International came 3rd. They were ranked 27th, 31st and 35th respectively in the world.

41 South African beaches were awarded Blue Flags, an international indicator of high environmental standards for recreational beaches in 2013 (up from 27 in 2010).

South Africa’s wine tourism has been rated the best-developed in the world by International Wine Review in 2012, one of the world’s most influential opinion formers on wine

According to CNNGo (CNN's Travel Website), Cape Town is the 9th most loved city in the world in 2012.

TripAdvisor has named Boulders Beach as one of its top 10 truly unique beaches in the world 2012.

National carrier South African Airways (SAA) has won the Global Traveler's magazine "Airline of the year"award for 2012 - the highest honour awarded by the publication for global business travellers.



South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. It is only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby Union and Soccer World Cups, after England.

In 2009, the Springboks become the first international team to be World Champions in both 15-a-side and Sevens rugby.

South Africa is home to the world's largest individually timed cycle race (the Cape Argus Cycle Race), the world's largest open water swim (the Midmar Mile) and the world's largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon).

5 South Africans hold the world extreme swimming world record for swimming 2.5kms around Cape Horn.

Since the 1940’s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.

According to The Cricketer magazine, Newlands in Cape Town is second-best Test Match venue in the world in 2012. Lords was first.

The United States Olympic Committee pays out medal bonuses of $25,000 for gold medal winners, $15,000 for silver medals and $10,000 for bronze. SASOC will give South African gold medal winnersalmost twice as much with each medal earning R400000 ($47,700). South African silver and bronze medallists will earn R200,000 and R80,000 respectively.

Natalie Du Toit became the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics (Beijing 2008), where she placed 16th in the women's 10K race



SA has 30,000 ordinary public and independent schools. (Department of Basic Education)

In 1994 only 12,000 schools had electricity, In 2013, approximately 25,000 have access to electricity

According to the 2011 census, 81.2% (45.6%) of 5 year olds, 97% (94.6%) of 9 year olds, 95.8% (95.1%) of 13 year olds and 85.6% (81.5%) of 17 year olds attend an educational establishment. 2001 figures in brackets.

The matric class of 2013 achieved a pass rate of 78%, a 3.7% improvement from 2012.

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with approximately 300,000 students.

According to the 2012 school day statistics, there were 12,428,069 learners in ordinary public and independant schools, served by 425,167 educators. This equates to a learner to teacher ratio of 1:29 in 2012. This has improved from 1:50 in 1994 (Department of Basic Education)

Eleven of South Africa’s 23 universities rank in the top 7% of the 20 000 registered universities worldwide.

With the recent AACSB accreditation, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business is nowone of just 59 out of 13,670 business schools worldwide to be triple-crowned – schools that are accredited by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation associations namely AMBA (the Association of MBAs), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) is the highest ranked African business school and is ranked 42nd overall in the world (Financial Times Executive Education rankings 2013)

The University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business is ranked 74th in the world for the quality of it's MBA program, according to the Financial Times Global MBA rankings 2013

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011-2012, the University of Cape Town is ranked the 103rd best university in the world. Stellenbosch is ranked 268 and Wits 274.

Some 9 million learners receive free cooked mealsas part of the National School Nutrition Programme Annual Report 2012/13. 

The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.

Stellenbosch University was the first African university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite

297 new ECD (Early Childhood Development) centres have been set up and registered in the first quarter of 2011

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 148 countries, 2009/10 rankings in [ ]):

Quality of management schools 23 [29]

University-industry collaboration in R&D 29 [26]

Quality of scientific research institutions 35 [30]

Capacity for innovation 33 [46]

Availability of research and training services 54 [47]

Secondary education enrolment, gross % 55 [62]

Tertiary education enrolment 102 [111]

Internet access in schools 116 [100]

Primary education enrolment, net % 122 [136]

Availability of scientists and engineers 168 [122]

Quality of primary education 132 [133]

Quality of the educational system 146 [119]

Quality of math and science education 148 [139]



In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to provide full protection status for the Great White shark within its jurisdictional waters. Countries including USA, Australia, Malta and Namibia followed suit later.

Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world according to the UK's National Physical Laboratory.

Johannesburg ranks 2nd among countries from Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa in dealing withurbanisation and environmental challenges, in the MasterCard Insights Report on Urbanisation and Environmental Challenges.

South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (Fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet.

The Vredefort Dome (or Vredefort crater) in the Free State, is the largest verified impact crater on Earth at between 250 and 300km in diameter and is estimated to be over 2 billion years old.

SA ranks 18th in terms of biggest emitters of CO², 9th as a proportion of GDP and 27th in terms of CO² per person. (Economist).

South Africa has the highest level of international certification of its tree plantations in the world. Over 80% of South African plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa

All paper in South Africa is produced from plantation grown trees, recycled paper or bagasse (sugar cane fibre). Fibre is not sourced from the wood of rainforests, indigenous or boreal trees. This is a myth, often wrongfully perpetuated by e-mail footnotes. Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa

The proportion of the South African population using improved drinking water sources was 94% in 2013, up from 83% in 1990. (WHO/UNICEF, March 2012)

Social and Infrastructure

According to the 2011 Census, the total population of South Africa stands at 51,490,106, up from 44,819,778 in 2001.

According to the 2011 Census, the distribution of the South African population by province is: Gauteng 23.7% (+15%), Kwazulu-Natal 19.8% (+0.1%), Eastern Cape 12.7% (+0.5%), Western Cape 11.3% (+10.3%), Limpopo 10.4% (+3.2%), Mpumalanga 7.8% (+10.9%), North West 6.8% (+14.9%), Free State 5.3% (-1%) and Northern Cape 2.2% (+8.3%). (Figures in brackets show the population change since 2007)

According to the 2011 Census, 79.2% of the population of SA were defined (or defined themselves) as Black, 8.9% Coloured, 2.5% Asian and 8.9% White, with 0.5% other. 

According to the 2011 Census, 30.3% of males are aged 14 and under (2001- 33.4%), 65.6% are aged 15-64 (62.8%) and 4.1% are aged 65 and over (3.8%). For females, 28.1% are aged 14 and under (30.8%), 65.4% are aged 15-64 (63.2%) and 6.5% are aged 65 and over (6%).

SA's population is the 27th largest in the world (there are 230 countries, only 80 have a population in excess of 10 million).

The current police to population ratio is approximately 1:308 (SAPS – April 2011). This ranks South Africa as the 9th best

There are 195,000 in the employ of SA Police. There are 411,000 in the employ of private security companies. TOTAL 606,000. Divide by 49,000,000. Conclusion: for every 80 citizens there is someone looking after some or other aspect of safety and security. Or put differently 1250 security ‘officials’ per 100,000 citizens! (Business Day)

The percentage of the South African population with access to clean drinking water has increased from 62% in 1994, to 94% in 2013. Access to electricity has increased from 34% in 1994, to 88% in 2012.

South Africa has the distinction of being one of only twelve countries in the world where it is safe to drinkour tap water. As at 2012, the quality of South African tap water is ranked as third best overall (Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa)

In 2013, 16.5 million South Africans benefited from access to social grants, 11.5 million of which were children, 3.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million with disabilities. In 1994, only 2.5 million people had access to social grants, the majority of which were pensioners.

Since 1994, 435 houses have been built each day for the poor.

South Africa is ranked number 21 in terms of language diversity out of 224 countries. Papua New Guinea is ranked as the most linguistically diverse country and the Vatican the least. (Greenbergs diversity Index. Ethnologue.com)

Two South African cities were voted amongst the world's top 100 Most Liveable Cities in the 2010 study conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Cape Town was ranked in 86th place and Johannesburg 90th

Johannesburg is ranked as the 87th largest city in the world. Tokyo is the largest with a population of 36 million (Economist).

SA ranked34 out of 192 countries in terms of infrastructure and 12th for our rail network.

South African media ranks 38th out of 178 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2010, higher than France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and all of the other BRICS countries.

SA has the 18th largest prisoner to population ratio (USA is number 1).

In terms of total crimes recorded SA ranked 10th, USA 8th and the UK 6th.

Out of 230 cities surveyed around the world, Johannesburg ranks the 151st and Cape Town the 171st most expensive city for expatriates to live in according to the 2010 Cost of Living Standards Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, ahead of Tokyo (2), Moscow (4), Hong Kong (8), London (=17), Paris (=17), Tel Aviv (19), Sao Paulo (21), Sydney (24), Rome (26), New York (27), Dubai (55) and Auckland (149).

South Africa is the 19th largest producer of energy (economist)

SA’s has the 17th longest road network in the world and ranks 29th in terms of most used, but does not feature in terms of most crowded. (Economist).

SA ranks 25th in terms of "most air travel". (Economist)

According to Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti 90% of the land re-distributed to emerging farmers (approx 930 farms) is lying fallow and unproductive

South Africa has ranked 40th out of 105 countries in the Global Food Security Index which has the US in the top spot and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the bottom.

SA’s rail network is ranked 11th in terms of longest networks and 9th in terms of millions of tons per km transported. (Economist)

SA ranks 24th in terms of "lowest divorce rate" per 100,000 of population. (Economist).

49% of Zulu speakers think the statement 'Cultural customs and traditions define who I am' is very true.27% of Afrikaans speakers feel the same way.

South Africa is ranked 26th in the world for gross indoor exhibition space at 180,000 square meters, which is approx 25% of all exhibition space available in Africa, according to the 2011 World Map of Exhibition Venues published by the UFI.

South Africa has ranked a sad 142nd out of 151 countries on the 2012 Happy Planet Index, which measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for their citizens.

With close to 107,000 new individual asylum claims registered in 2011 (one tenth of applications globally), South Africa was the world's largest recipient of individual applications for the fourth successive year. Between 2006 and 2011, South Africa registered more than 816,000 new asylum applications, making it by far the top destination for asylum-seekers for this six-year period. (UNHCR Global Trends 2011)

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 148 countries, 2011/12 rankings in [ ]):

Quality of air transport infrastructure 11 [17]

Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regs 13 [19]

Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes 12 [16]

Intellectual property protection 18 [30]

Property rights 20 [30]

Judicial independence 22 [35]

Mobile telephone subscriptions 34 [73]

Availability of latest technologies 33 [39]

Quality of roads 41 [43]

Quality of railroad infrastructure 48 [46]

Mobile broadband subscriptions 61 [73]

Quality of port infrastructure 51 [50]

Quality of overall infrastructure 63 [60]

Int’l Internet bandwidth 71 [80]

Reliability of police services 96 [95]

Quality of electricity supply 101 [97]

Broadband Internet subscriptions 98 [96]

Individuals using Internet 81 [105]

Fixed telephone lines 100 [100]

Organised crime 113 [112]



The life expectancy of an average South African has increased to 60 in 2012 from 54 in 2009, according to The Lancet health journal 

14.7 million South Africans have been tested for HIV, 13 million in public health facilities and 1.7 million in private health care facilities, as part of the HIV counselling and testing (HCT) campaign

South Africa has 1 doctor per 1000 population and 3 beds per 1000 population (Spain 3 doctors per 1000 population and 3.4 beds, UK 2 doctors per 1000 population and 4 beds, South Korea 1.4 doctors per 1000 population and 7.1 beds, USA 2.7 doctors per 1000 population and 3 beds). (Economist)

South Africa ranked 4th in terms of HIV/Aids prevalence amongst population behind Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho. (Economist)

SA ranks 20th in terms of death per 1000 of population (15) alongside Russia, Afghanistan is at No 1 (18.2), UK ranks 58th (10). South Africa does not feature in the world’s 44 highest infant mortality rates.(Economist)

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013/14, South Africa ranks (out of 144 countries, 2011/12 rankings in [ ]):

Malaria cases/100,000 pop 94

Business impact of malaria 100 [103]

Infant mortality, deaths/1,000 live births 107

Business impact of tuberculosis 142 [135]

Life expectancy, years 136

Business impact of HIV/AIDS 143 [132]

HIV prevalence, % adult pop 144

Tuberculosis cases/100,000 pop 147



South Africa has 11 official, state wide, languages, more than any other country.

The only street in the world to house 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West. SA ranks 7th in terms ofnumber of Nobel Peace prizes. (Economist).

Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of "Passive resistance" (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.

The Western Deep Level mines are the world’s deepest mines at approaching 4km.

South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.

South Africa is the first, and to date only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme.

SA ranks 18th in terms of beer consumption (China 1; USA 2; Russia 3; Brazil 4 and Germany 5).

SA has 45 million active cell phones (population 51 million) – ranking in the top 5 globally in terms of cell phone coverage.

SA has 66 colour TV’s per 100 households, 9 telephone lines per 100 population and 90 mobile telephone subscribers per 100 population. (Economist).

2 Cape Town restaurants are in the top 50 restaurants in the world according to the S.Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list 2010. La Colombe restaurant in Constantia, Cape Town, was voted the 12th best andLe Quartier Francais in Franschhoek came in at 31

South Africa has 8.5 computers per 100 population (UK 80, Spain 40,South Korea 47 and USA 80). (Economist).

SA ranks 31st in terms of internet users per 1000 population. (Economist).

SA ranks 16th in terms of cinema visits per 1000 population. (Economist).

South Africa does not feature on the "brain drain" list of 20 countries. (Economist).


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