Life in South Africa

1994 was supposed to be a turning point for life in South Africa. The widely despised and universally condemned system of apartheid had been dismantled and Nelson Mandela took his place on the world stage as president of the country after spending twenty seven years in prison.

Expectations were running high that the newly installed ANC government would sweep out the old yawning disparities in provision and create a new society fairer for all. Expectations that some thought were too high, and those doubters proved to be correct with polls indicating that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Life in South Africa 1Today unemployment stands at 23.3% compared with 32% at the end of apartheid (but still one of the world's highest rates). This figure is of more concern when it is further analysed. Sixteen years after the end of apartheid, 29.8% of blacks are unemployed compared with 22.3% of 'coloureds', 8.6% of Asians and just 5.1% of whites. Furthermore, 22% of the population live below the internationally recognised poverty line (although this has fallen from the 50% of 2000), life expectancy is just over fifty years and infant mortality rates are running at 43 for every 1000 births.

Life in South Africa 2South Africa has a higher number of HIV infections than any other country on earth and the disease has orphaned 1.4 million children. Crime levels are endemic, particularly sexual crimes, with girls in South Africa having a one in three chance of finishing school but a one in two chance of being raped.

One in four South African males admit to rape, with over three quarters first offending as teenage boys in the belief that girls are 'fair game' and the crime is of little or no consequence. Crimes against white farmers are also widespread with an estimated 3000 being murdered representing 4-5% of the white framing community since 2001.


Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa



Volunteer Work South Africa

Check out all the latest African volunteer work placements and openings in South Africa.
More >


Life in South Africa

Previous Auto/Stop Next

Life in South Africa

Life in South Africa

When apartheid ended in 1994 the economy was dominated by whites, followed by Indians, 'coloureds' and then blacks. Although the ANC pledged to make Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) its priority, today South Africa is still ranked in the top ten countries in the world for income inequality with for every $100 of income for whites, a black person would have an equivalent income of just $13.00.

Life in South Africa 3These factors together with concerns of rife corruption at the very heart of government are cited by many young people as instrumental in them leaving the country altogether, leaving behind a lack of skilled professionals such as doctors and nurses to service the country's emerging infrastructure.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu envisaged a 'Rainbow Nation' after apartheid, with all races working together for prosperity for all, however as one rural villager commentated "For someone at the bottom of the ladder . . . things haven't changed much from the apartheid years."  This video shows daily life in South Africa together with comments from young people about living in South Africa together with insights into social problems such as poor housing.

Human Development Index South Africa

Human Development Index for South Africa 1980 - Present

The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country. South Africa is in 121st place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 and the chart above shows how levels of poverty and living standards in South Africa is just below that of medium human development.



Volunteer Work

African Volunteer Work Opportunities

Get Your
Free Listing!

African Volunteer Directory

Latest TEFL
Jobs in Africa

TEFL Jobs in Africa

Sponsor a Child
South Africa

Sponsor a Child in South Africa