Cape Town is the second most populous city in South Africa behind Johannesburg, and it is the provincial capital of the Western Cape. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town is famous around the world for its beautiful harbor and is considered one of the best places in the world to visit.
The most recent census in South Africa was completed in 2011. At this point, the population of Cape Town was counted as 3,740,026, with a growth rate of 2.57% over ten years. If this growth rate is sustained, it will put the 2018 population of Cape Town at somewhere around 3.81 million, which is a bit higher than the UN estimates.
City Size and Population Density
Cape Town is part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality, approximately 400 square kilometers in area with a population density of 1,530 people per square kilometer.
Cape Town has many notable neighborhoods. The Atlantic Seaboard to the west of Cape Town, for example, has some of the most expensive real estate in the country and the highest concentration of multimillionaires in the city. The Northern Suburbs are comprised mostly of Afrikaans-speaking people while the Southern Suburbs are mostly English-speaking people. The Cape Flats to the southeast of the central business district is often called "Apartheid's dumping ground" as it became home to people the apartheid government considered non-white.
Cape Town Demographics
Cape Town is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is a significant destination for expatriates and immigrants.
The ethnic and racial composition of Cape Town is:
- 42.4% "Coloured"
- 38.6% "Black African"
- 15.7% "White"
- 1.4% "Asian or Indian"
- 1.9% other
Apartheid in South Africa is still felt in Cape Town. The Apartheid system in the city designated the African population based on tribe, allocating every person to one of nine tribes. The racial category of " colored" is very contentious in the country, and it is often a way to lump together the rest of the population that does not fit into one of the nine tribes or identities. The colored population is mostly concentrated in the Western Cape, and many are descended from slaves brought to work on farms in the area during the 17th century.
The 2011 census also found that the share of colored people in the Western Cape fell from 54% in 2001 to 49.6% in 2011 while the white population dropped from 18.4% to 16%. The black population increased from 26.7% to 33.4% while the Indian population grew slightly to 1.1%.
Cape Town Population Growth
Cape Town was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 as a stopping point for ships traveling to the Dutch East Indies. The city grew relatively slowly until the 20th century, reaching a population of 171,000 in 1901. Since then it has increased by a consistent 2-3% annually to reach its current population of nearly 4 million.
Cape Town grew 2.6% from 2001 to 2011, reaching a metro population of 3.75 million. In 2013, the Western Cape was one of 4 provinces in South Africa that showed significant growth, with the Western Cape's population growing by nearly 1.5 million people over twelve years. The province's share of South Africa's population increased from 10.1% to 11.4% over this time.
Cape Town and the Western Cape are attracting many migrants, primarily due to the area being an employment hub. Unfortunately, Cape Town cannot keep up with the pace of migration for long as it puts a great deal of pressure on the city and businesses which provide jobs.