Map of Southern Africa with the nine provinces of South Africa.
The current population of South Africa is 61,489,859 (2023), based on the latest United Nations data. Black African 79.1%. White/Caucasian 8.9%. Coloured (mixed race) 8.9%. Asian 2.8%. Other 0.3%. 66.7 % of the population is urban. The median age in South Africa is 27.6 years. Estimates for immigrants and asylum seekers from other African countries, especially Zimbabwe, range up to several million.
There is freedom of religion. The emphasis on pluralism and diversity has given high profile to ethnic African religions (13.50%), Islam (1.73%)), Hinduism (1.20%), humanism (7.73%) and the interfaith movement, somewhat at the expense of the large Christian majority (75.24%).
Literacy 82.4%, but lower in practice. Official languages 11 (Zulu; Xhosa; Afrikaans; English; Sotho; Pedi; Tswana; Tsonga; Swazi; Venda; Ndebele)). English and Afrikaans are the main languages in higher education. All languages 40. Indigenous languages 24. Languages with Scriptures: 16 Bible; 1 NT; 1 portion.
Economy: Human Development Index Rank 129th/182. Public debt 71.2% of GDP. Income/person $5,685 (12% of USA) – but big disparity between wealthy and poor. Unemployment 32.9% (may be much higher).
Politics: Government and leadership in all spheres of life are challenges for the future. Corruption and nepotism are widespread, but greater transparency and a more mature democracy and free press are helping to address this. The legacy of apartheid continues to impact the nation. Despite progress in some areas, inequalities and injustices of the past continue to shape the future.
Poverty and economic inequality: Extremes of wealth and poverty persist. The black majority itself includes a wealthy elite and a poor majority, but the middle class is growing. There is a big need for economic measures that might uplift those most needing assistance without crippling the effective running of the economy.
Rape and violent crime rates are alarmingly high: The proliferation of illegal firearms, poverty, desperation and lack of justice fuels hopelessness and anarchy. We need people to work for justice and for people’s safety.
A prophetic voice for the Church in a society that no longer holds to moral absolutes: This is especially needed in lieu of the fact that the secular post-Christian worldview has centre stage in the media and has pushed through legalization of abortion, gay marriage, adult pornography, and gambling.
Theological education: this is a challenge for churches, students, and the institutions themselves, leading to a decline in numbers when the need is at an all-time high. That is where Veritas Competency Based Theological Training and Integrated Leadership Development delivers a crucial service.
(Data from Operation World)