South Africa Essay
South Africa Population
The South African population, according to 2011 census, amounted to approximately 51.77 million people of different origins, cultures, languages, and religions. It plays home to illegal immigrants who amount to five million, including three million from Zimbabwe. According to United Nations Secretariat World Population Prospects, 30.1% are children under the age of 15 years, 65.2% are people aged between 15 and 64 years of age, and the rest 4.6% were over 65years of age. The current population is an increase from 44.8 million people in 2001. Africans make up 79.2% of the population, white and colored people make up a total of 17.8% of the total population, the Asian and Indian population makes up 2.5%, while the rest 0.5% is made up of other groups. Since the 1994 democratic elections, there have been three censuses that have been conducted in the years 1996, 2001, and 2011.
The African part of the population consists of four groupings, which include the Nguni, the Sotho-Tswana, the Tsonga, and the Venda. The Nguni comprises of the Xhosa, the Zulu, the Ndebele, and the Swazi people. The white population includes Afrikaners, Dutch descendants, the German and the French, English speakers from Britain, and immigrants from the rest of Europe. There is also a part of the population that descended from slaves that were originally from East Africa and Central Africa called the Khoisan. The Khoisan is a name representing two groups of Khoi and San. The Khoi population has since been annihilated, but a small population of San still exists in the country with hunting and gathering being their main economic activity. The majority of Asian population in South Africa is the Indian who were initially brought as workers on sugar plantations of Natal in the 19th century. The country is multilingual and the country’s constitution recognizes eleven official languages, namely: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Ndebele, Zulu, Sesotho saleboa, Xitsonga, SiSwati, Setswana, and Tshivenda.
As evidenced by the statistics above, South Africa’s population has been on the rise. This trend has had both positive and negative impacts. In general terms, an increase in population of any country has effects on the development of that country. On the one hand, increase in population will mean an increase in the level of human resources such as labor and, therefore, productivity will rise. This increase will in turn improve the economic development of the country. On the other hand, increase in population can also mean increased consumption as a result the government of that particular country dedicating its resources to catering for the increased consumption. Therefore, funds intended for development activities will be used for the consumption and this results into development derailment. Population increase also leads to the problem of food supply and hunger epidemic. Increase in population will lead to a high demand for food, which is limited by supply and, therefore, food becomes scarce.
Immigration has been one of the factors that have led to a great increase in population. During the twentieth century, immigration to South Africa was negligible, but recently the figures have soared due to factors such as the discovery of gold, which has led to massive employment of workers from the neighboring countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Lesotho. In fact, by the year 1998, the mining industry in South Africa had employed over 90,000 workers. Apart from the immigrants who entered the country in a legal way, others came to the country illegally. The illegal immigrants were in search for employment, education, or political freedom. Illegal immigration to South Africa has brought with itself many social, economic, and security problems. As a result, there is increased crime due to poverty and also an increase in unemployment rates.
Population growth has also brought with it an epidemic of HIV/AIDS that has continued to be a heavy burden all over the world. Immigration rate in South Africa was at its highest in the early 1990s. Before that period, South Africa was in a political struggle, therefore being isolated from the rest of the world. During these times of political struggle, HIV/AIDS prevalence was at a very low rate, but once immigration into the country increased rapidly, the statistics changed completely. Most of the affected in the South African population were young females below the age of 35 years who got infected mainly due to their sexual behavior. Ever since, HIV prevalence has been at an increase over the years. HIV/AIDS has greatly increased the mortality rates in South Africa and it has affected most of the people in their late teen ages and twenties. AIDS deaths at the age group have had a lot of dire consequences such as an increase in the number of orphans and a decrease in economic performance of the country because productivity there is the highest at the age.
Due to increased population in the country, unemployment rates and violence have gone up and this desperate situation has increased the vulnerability to HIV. Black youth, especially the females, are at a higher risk to contract HIV and this can be proved by statistics of 2000 that showed 23% of people under the age of 24 were reported to be HIV-positive. HIV prevalence can also be evidenced by data collected in 2013, which showed that the number of HIV-positive people in South Africa increased from 4 million in the year 2002 to 5.26 million in 2013. Moreover, 10% of the total population in the country has HIV and roughly 17% of women who are at their productive ages are HIV-positive. The general effect of HIV prevalence is increased mortality, increase in a number of orphans, and increased dependency rate.
The fertility trend in South Africa is an area worth a look at. The number of live births per woman is referred to as fertility. Generally, children that are born per women are fewer than the actual capability of a woman. The patterns of fertility of white South Africans present a lower rate than other races in the country and the trend resembles that in the developed countries. Development levels of Black South Africans are lower than of other populations. Poor development leads to a low contraceptive use and therefore higher fertility levels. Reduction of fertility levels are brought about by a combination of many factors such as improvement in living standards and rising aspirations of economic and social mobility. Another factor leading to increased fertility among the black population in South Africa is the cultural beliefs the Black population are bound with. Africans have high regard for large families unlike the Whites who prefer professional success to having children.
Population increase in the country has also resulted in bad social behaviors that are associated with low employment levels. Low employment levels mean high level of idleness and, eventually, it has led to an increase in social crimes. Areas occupied by Black population have reported the most cases of crimes due to the population’s high rate of unemployment. Slums on the outskirts of major cities have also been on the rise due to massive rural urban migration. Rural urban migration has been caused by the desire of people to search for employment in towns and cities. Immigration in the country has also increased the level of social evils that have cropped up in the major towns and cities.
Apart from the negative impacts of the increased population in South Africa, positive effects have also been felt. Increase in population has led to increase in supply of labor and, as a result, productivity of the country has been on the rise. From 1996 to date, the gross domestic product has almost tripled to 400 billion dollars. One of the main driving factors of the increase in gross domestic product is the input by the high population. The improved performance has led to South Africa being declared an upper-middle income country by the World Bank alongside only four other African countries, namely Botswana, Gabon, and Mauritius. Presence of different races from all over the world has also participated in the good performance of the country because fresh ideas are outsourced from the origin countries of the races and are incorporated in the country.
In conclusion, the population of South Africa has a complex set up that accounts for the country’s current position as an economy and also as a country of mixed races. The population composition has greatly impacted the progress of the country socially and economically. It is also fair to say that the Black population has lagged behind in terms of development and, therefore, their poverty rate is higher than that of other populations. HIV/AIDS is a major challenge for the country because it accounts for 10% of the total population according to statistics released in 2013 and among those affected by the disease are mostly the youths and women at their active ages. The increased population growth has led to rapid development of the country evidenced by an increase in gross domestic product over the period between 1996 and 2013. Good economic performance has also led to the country being classified as a middle-income earning economy becoming one of the only four countries in Africa to be in that category.