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Fast Facts & Quick Stats About South Africa

Categories: HEADLINES, Enterprise
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 2011 Ibrahim Index - The South African stock market rose 16.09% in 2010, ranking 8th out of the G20 nations and ahead of all of the G7 countries (Bespoke Investment Group)...


  • 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 2011 Ibrahim Index which measures the quality of African governance, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles took the first four places out of 53 (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 43rd most democratic country in 2011.
  • In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Survey of Democratic Freedom, South Africa ranks 31st out of 184 countries.
  • According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11, South Africa has the 34th most efficient government out of the 139 countries ranked.
  • WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 47th least corrupt nation out of 150 nations surveyed in 2011, ahead of Italy, Greece and all the other BRICS nations. Transparency International ranks South Africa 69th out of 150 countries in its corruption perception index 2012 (43rd in 2007, 64th in 2011).
  • South Africa ranks as the 61st strongest state out of 177 countries in the Fund for Peace's Failed State Index 2011. The index measures state vulnerability based on 12 social, economic, political and military indicators.
  • In terms of the Global Competitiveness Report 2012, South Africa’s biggest improvements over the past year have been Reliability of police services (we moved from 104 to 95); Brain drain (we moved from 62 to 48); Intensity of local competition (we moved from 63 to 49), Availability of latest technologies (we moved from 51 to 39  and Gross national savings as a % of GDP (we moved from 98 to 72).
  • "Personal satisfaction" with the country's democracy rose from 49% in 2008 to 60% in 2011, according to the continent wide Afrobarometer research group.


  • 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 R742.7 billion in 2011-12.
  • South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio is 32% (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.
  • South Africa sold $1.8 billion worth of cars to the US in 2010, putting us ahead of Sweden and Italy as suppliers to the US market. Car sales are projected to grow 10% in 2011 to 460,000 units.
  • South Africa exported 36.9% more vehicles in 2010 than 2009.
  • The South African stock market rose 16.09% in 2010, ranking 8th out of the G20 nations and ahead of all of the G7 countries (Bespoke Investment Group).
  • South Africa is ranked 1st out of 142 countries in respect of regulation of security exchanges according to the World Economic Forum Global Competetiveness Report 2011/12
  • South Africa is ranked 1st in respect of auditing and reporting, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12.
  • South Africa ranks 1st out of 60 countries in the Economist’s House Price index for the period 1997 – 2009.
  • South Africa's banks rank 2nd in the world for soundness, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12.
  • The South African Rand was the second best performing currency against the US Dollar between 2007 and 2011, according to Bloomberg’s Currency Scorecard.
  • SA ranked 1st in Platinum output, 2nd in Palladium output, 3rd in Gold output, 6th in Coal output and 9th in wool 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)
  • SA is ranked 3rd in the world for protection of minority shareholders interests, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12.
  • South Africa ranked 6th in house price improvement indices as a % change in 2009, and 1st as a % change 1999/2009. (Economist).
  • SA is ranked 10th out of 142 countries for Strength of Investor Protection, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12.
  • SA is ranked 10th out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting investors in business. (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011).
  • 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 12th out of a total of 134 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2010, ahead of many developed nations, including, the UK (15th), United States (19), Canada (20), Australia (23) and France (46).
  • 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 ranks 24th out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Largest Gold Reserves" Index and 30th in terms of official US$ reserves.
  • 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 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 ranks 41st out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Biggest Exporters" Index.
  • South Africa ranked 50th out of 142 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12, up from 54th in 2010/11.
  • 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 a survey of 62 countries by the World Bank and the IMF, South Africa has the 36th highest foreign debt, ahead of the US, Japan and all the European countries surveyed. The economist ranks South Africa 29th out of 60.
  • 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). 
  • MTN has been ranked Africa’s most valuable brand in the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2012 survey. MTN becomes the first and only African brand to make the list, debuting at position 88 in the world.
  • The number of mines in South Africa had increased from 993 in 2004 to almost 1,600 in 2011 (Business Day)
  • Associated revenue generated from mining grew from R98bn in 2004 to R370bn by the end of 2011 (Business Day)
  • 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 the winner of the National Outsourcing Association’s (NOA’s) Offshoring Destination of the Year Award 2012


  • The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown from 3.9million in 1994 to 11.3 million in 2010. South Africa is ranked among the top 5 countries in the world in respect of tourism growth (growing at 3 times the global average).
  • SA ranks 24th in terms of tourist arrivals at 11.3 million (France 79 million, UK 28 million, Switzerland 8.5 million, India 5.2 million). (Economist)
  • Cape Town was named the top tourist destination in the world in the 2011 Traveler’s Choice Destinations awards.
  • OR Tambo airport is the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2010/11. It was also in the top 3 most improved airports in the world for the same period.
  • 27 South African beaches were awarded Blue Flags, an international indicator of high environmental standards for recreational beaches in 2010.
  • South Africa is ranked 66th out of 139 in the World Economic Forums Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2010/11.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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 winners almost twice as much with each medal earning R400000 ($47,700). South African silver and bronze medallists will earn R200,000 and R80,000 respectively.
  • Oscar Pistorius is the first double amputee to participate in a track event at the Olympic Games. He bowed out of the 400m in the semi-finals having finished second in his heat at London 2012.
  • 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
  • Having graduated from the 2011 European Tour Qualifying School, Brandon Grace became the first graduate to win four times the year after graduation. He is also the youngest South African to win four times in a single season, beating the mark of Ernie Els in 2003, who was 32 years and 325 days. Grace is 24 years and 140 days


  • SA has 30,000 schools (7,000 secondary, 23,000 primary). In 1994 only 12,000 had electricity. Now 24,000 have access to electricity.
  • 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.
  • South Africa’s learner to teacher ratio has improved from 1:50 in 1994 to 1:31 in 2010.
  • The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) is the highest ranked African business school and is ranked 47th overall in the world (Financial Times Executive Education rankings 2012)
  • 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.
  • According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12, South Africa is ranked 13th out of 142 countries for it's quality of management schools.
  • 61% of South African primary school children and 30% of high school children receive free food as part of the school feeding scheme.
  • 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


  • 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 with urbanisation 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 91% in 2010, up from 83% in 1990. (WHO/UNICEF, March 2012)

Social and Infrastructure

  • 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 93% in 2011. Access to electricity has increased from 34% in 1994, to 84% in 2011.
  • In 2010, 13.5 million South Africans benefited from access to social grants, 8.5 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.
  • According to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamimi of the 914 poverty alleviation programmes launched by government 232 have collapsed
  • 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
  • SA ranks 8th out of 142 countries on the Legal Rights index, (Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12).
  • SA ranks 30th out of 142 countries on property rights (Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12).
  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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 of number 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 12th in terms of beer consumption (China 1; USA 2; Russia 3; Brazil 4 and Germany 5).
  • SA has 45 million active cell phones (population 49 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 and Le 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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