Mapping the racial divide in South Africa

South Africa’s population distribution across the country’s three major cities shows that very little has happened in the way of breaking through the “spacial legacy” of apartheid and becoming a more integrated society.

This is illustrated more clearly by looking at dot-map comparisons of the racial distribution of South Africa, which are available online.

The maps were produced by Capetonian software developer and cartographer, Adrian Frith, using data from census 2011 and 2001.

Frith has also produced an interactive dot map of South Africa’s racial spread using small-area census data from 2011, with each dot representing 50 people.

Map key: Black Africans (Blue), Whites (Purple), Coloured (Orange), Indian/Asian (Green)


In 2001, Gauteng had 9.4 million people living in the province, of which 7 million (75%) were black, 1.8 million (19%) white, 339,969 (3.6%) coloured and 218,130 (2.3%) Indian.

The greater Johannesburg area (including the City of Joburg and Ekhuruleni municipalities) accounted for 3.2 million of the population.

By 2011, the province’s population had increased to 12.3 million with a similar racial spread, with the greater Johannesburg area swelling to account for 7.6 million, much in part to the Ekhuruleni metro swallowing up smaller wards.

Notably, a high proportion of the population in the city is condensed into relatively small areas, with the more “affluent” areas are still dominated by white people, showing relatively little integration.

Compared to census data from 2001, it’s clear that in the city, like South Africa’s other main hubs, very little has changed over the years, exhibiting the oft-referenced “spacial legacy” of apartheid.

Cape Town

In 2001, the Western Cape had a population of 4.5 million people, with a coloured majority (54%). In 2011, the population grew to 5.8 million people, with the coloured population remaining dominant (48.8%).

Looking at the City of Cape Town metro, the city accounted for 2.9 million people in 2001, jumping to 3.7 million in 2011.

Over the period of a decade, the white minority (2001: 18.8%, 2011: 15.7%) remained entrenched in the more affluent areas, with the maps again showing minimal integration.


Like it’s big-brother cities, Durban has shown little in the way of spatial transformation over the past decade or so, though integration is far more apparent than Cape Town or Joburg.

In 2001, KwaZulu Natal province had a total population of , which jumped to 10.3 million in 2011. The province holds a large black population (almost 86%) which is more evenly spread across areas – though still shows concentration on the outskirts of the city.

The white population has decreased in the province from 482,115 (5%) in 2001, to 423,594 (3.5%) in 2011, the data shows.

Frith has produced a number of maps relating to South Africa – mostly for use on Wikipedia – including sites that break down census and election data.

You can view more on his website.

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Mapping the racial divide in South Africa