Swaziland vs. South Africa


SwazilandSouth Africa
1,087,200 (July 2018 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

55,380,210 (July 2018 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Age structure
0-14 years: 34.41% (male 186,747 /female 187,412)
15-24 years: 19.31% (male 99,192 /female 110,770)
25-54 years: 38.22% (male 193,145 /female 222,405)
55-64 years: 4.28% (male 19,915 /female 26,663)
65 years and over: 3.77% (male 15,470 /female 25,481) (2018 est.)
0-14 years: 28.18% (male 7,815,651 /female 7,793,261)
15-24 years: 17.24% (male 4,711,480 /female 4,837,897)
25-54 years: 42.05% (male 11,782,848 /female 11,503,831)
55-64 years: 6.71% (male 1,725,034 /female 1,992,035)
65 years and over: 5.81% (male 1,351,991 /female 1,866,182) (2018 est.)
Median age
total: 23.2 years (2018 est.)
male: 22.2 years
female: 24 years
total: 27.4 years (2018 est.)
male: 27.2 years
female: 27.6 years
Population growth rate
0.82% (2018 est.)
0.97% (2018 est.)
Birth rate
25.8 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
19.9 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate
10.7 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
9.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate
-6.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
-0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.75 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.61 male(s)/female
total population: 0.9 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 46.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 51.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.7 deaths/1,000 live births
total: 29.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 33.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 26.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 57.2 years (2018)
male: 55.1 years
female: 59.3 years
total population: 64.1 years (2018 est.)
male: 62.7 years
female: 65.6 years
Total fertility rate
2.63 children born/woman (2018 est.)
2.26 children born/woman (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
27.3% (2018 est.)
20.4% (2018 est.)
noun: liSwati (singular), emaSwati (plural); note - former term, Swazi(s), still used among English speakers
adjective: Swati; note - former term, Swazi, still used among English speakers
noun: South African(s)
adjective: South African
Ethnic groups
African 97%, European 3%
black African 80.9%, colored 8.8%, white 7.8%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2018 est.)

note: colored is a term used in South Africa, including on the national census, for persons of mixed race ancestry

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
210,000 (2018 est.)
7.7 million (2018 est.)
Christian 90% (Zionist - a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship - 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, other 30% - includes Anglican, Methodist, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness), Muslim 2%, other 8% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, indigenous, Jewish) (2015 est.)
Christian 86%, ancestral, tribal, animist, or other traditional African religions 5.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other 1.5%, nothing in particular 5.2% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
2,400 (2018 est.)
71,000 (2018 est.)
English (official, used for government business), siSwati (official)
isiZulu (official) 24.7%, isiXhosa (official) 15.6%, Afrikaans (official) 12.1%, Sepedi (official) 9.8%, Setswana (official) 8.9%, English (official) 8.4%, Sesotho (official) 8%, Xitsonga (official) 4%, siSwati (official) 2.6%, Tshivenda (official) 2.5%, isiNdebele (official) 1.6%, other (includes Khoi, Nama, and San languages) 1.9% (2017 est.)
note: data represent language spoken most often at home
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.5%
male: 87.4%
female: 87.5% (2015 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.4%
male: 95.4%
female: 93.4% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: intermediate (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
vectorborne diseases: malaria (2016)
water contact diseases: schistosomiasis (2016)
degree of risk: intermediate (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
water contact diseases: schistosomiasis (2016)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2013)
total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2016)
Education expenditures
7.1% of GDP (2014)
6.1% of GDP (2017)
urban population: 24% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 2.46% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 66.9% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 1.97% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 93.6% of population
rural: 68.9% of population
total: 74.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 6.4% of population
rural: 31.1% of population
total: 25.9% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 81.4% of population
total: 93.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 18.6% of population
total: 6.8% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 63.1% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 56% of population (2015 est.)
total: 57.5% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 36.9% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 44% of population (2015 est.)
total: 42.5% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 69.6% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 60.5% of population (2015 est.)
total: 66.4% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 30.4% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 39.5% of population (2015 est.)
total: 33.6% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - population
68,000 MBABANE (capital) (2018)
9.453 million Johannesburg (includes Ekurhuleni), 4.524 million Cape Town (legislative capital), 3.145 million Durban, 2.473 million PRETORIA (administrative capital), 1.242 million Port Elizabeth, 769,000 Vereeniging (2019)
Maternal mortality rate
437 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
119 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
5.8% (2014)
5.9% (2016)
Health expenditures
7.7% (2016)
8.2% (2015)
Physicians density
0.08 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
0.91 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
16.5% (2016)
28.3% (2016)
Demographic profile

Eswatini, a small, predominantly rural, landlocked country surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, suffers from severe poverty and the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. A weak and deteriorating economy, high unemployment, rapid population growth, and an uneven distribution of resources all combine to worsen already persistent poverty and food insecurity, especially in rural areas. Erratic weather (frequent droughts and intermittent heavy rains and flooding), overuse of small plots, the overgrazing of cattle, and outdated agricultural practices reduce crop yields and further degrade the environment, exacerbating Eswatini's poverty and subsistence problems. Eswatini's extremely high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate – more than 28% of adults have the disease – compounds these issues. Agricultural production has declined due to HIV/AIDS, as the illness causes households to lose manpower and to sell livestock and other assets to pay for medicine and funerals.

Swazis, mainly men from the country’s rural south, have been migrating to South Africa to work in coal, and later gold, mines since the late 19th century. Although the number of miners abroad has never been high in absolute terms because of Eswatini's small population, the outflow has had important social and economic repercussions. The peak of mining employment in South Africa occurred during the 1980s. Cross-border movement has accelerated since the 1990s, as increasing unemployment has pushed more Swazis to look for work in South Africa (creating a "brain drain" in the health and educational sectors); southern Swazi men have continued to pursue mining, although the industry has downsized. Women now make up an increasing share of migrants and dominate cross-border trading in handicrafts, using the proceeds to purchase goods back in Eswatini. Much of today’s migration, however, is not work-related but focuses on visits to family and friends, tourism, and shopping.

South Africa’s youthful population is gradually aging, as the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) has declined dramatically from about 6 children per woman in the 1960s to roughly 2.2 in 2014. This pattern is similar to fertility trends in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, and sets South Africa apart from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, where the average TFR remains higher than other regions of the world. Today, South Africa’s decreasing number of reproductive age women is having fewer children, as women increase their educational attainment, workforce participation, and use of family planning methods; delay marriage; and opt for smaller families.

As the proportion of working-age South Africans has grown relative to children and the elderly, South Africa has been unable to achieve a demographic dividend because persistent high unemployment and the prevalence of HIV/AIDs have created a larger-than-normal dependent population. HIV/AIDS was also responsible for South Africa’s average life expectancy plunging to less than 43 years in 2008; it has rebounded to 63 years as of 2017. HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious public health threat, although awareness-raising campaigns and the wider availability of anti-retroviral drugs is stabilizing the number of new cases, enabling infected individuals to live longer, healthier lives, and reducing mother-child transmissions.

Migration to South Africa began in the second half of the 17th century when traders from the Dutch East India Company settled in the Cape and started using slaves from South and southeast Asia (mainly from India but also from present-day Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia) and southeast Africa (Madagascar and Mozambique) as farm laborers and, to a lesser extent, as domestic servants. The Indian subcontinent remained the Cape Colony’s main source of slaves in the early 18th century, while slaves were increasingly obtained from southeast Africa in the latter part of the 18th century and into the 19th century under British rule.

After slavery was completely abolished in the British Empire in 1838, South Africa’s colonists turned to temporary African migrants and indentured labor through agreements with India and later China, countries that were anxious to export workers to alleviate domestic poverty and overpopulation. Of the more than 150,000 indentured Indian laborers hired to work in Natal’s sugar plantations between 1860 and 1911, most exercised the right as British subjects to remain permanently (a small number of Indian immigrants came freely as merchants). Because of growing resentment toward Indian workers, the 63,000 indentured Chinese workers who mined gold in Transvaal between 1904 and 1911 were under more restrictive contracts and generally were forced to return to their homeland.

In the late 19th century and nearly the entire 20th century, South Africa’s then British colonies’ and Dutch states’ enforced selective immigration policies that welcomed "assimilable" white Europeans as permanent residents but excluded or restricted other immigrants. Following the Union of South Africa’s passage of a law in 1913 prohibiting Asian and other non-white immigrants and its elimination of the indenture system in 1917, temporary African contract laborers from neighboring countries became the dominant source of labor in the burgeoning mining industries. Others worked in agriculture and smaller numbers in manufacturing, domestic service, transportation, and construction. Throughout the 20th century, at least 40% of South Africa’s miners were foreigners; the numbers peaked at over 80% in the late 1960s. Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, and Eswatini were the primary sources of miners, and Malawi and Zimbabwe were periodic suppliers.

Under apartheid, a "two gates" migration policy focused on policing and deporting illegal migrants rather than on managing migration to meet South Africa’s development needs. The exclusionary 1991 Aliens Control Act limited labor recruitment to the highly skilled as defined by the ruling white minority, while bilateral labor agreements provided exemptions that enabled the influential mining industry and, to a lesser extent, commercial farms, to hire temporary, low-paid workers from neighboring states. Illegal African migrants were often tacitly allowed to work for low pay in other sectors but were always under threat of deportation.

The abolishment of apartheid in 1994 led to the development of a new inclusive national identity and the strengthening of the country’s restrictive immigration policy. Despite South Africa’s protectionist approach to immigration, the downsizing and closing of mines, and rising unemployment, migrants from across the continent believed that the country held work opportunities. Fewer African labor migrants were issued temporary work permits and, instead, increasingly entered South Africa with visitors’ permits or came illegally, which drove growth in cross-border trade and the informal job market. A new wave of Asian immigrants has also arrived over the last two decades, many operating small retail businesses.

In the post-apartheid period, increasing numbers of highly skilled white workers emigrated, citing dissatisfaction with the political situation, crime, poor services, and a reduced quality of life. The 2002 Immigration Act and later amendments were intended to facilitate the temporary migration of skilled foreign labor to fill labor shortages, but instead the legislation continues to create regulatory obstacles. Although the education system has improved and brain drain has slowed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, South Africa continues to face skills shortages in several key sectors, such as health care and technology.

South Africa’s stability and economic growth has acted as a magnet for refugees and asylum seekers from nearby countries, despite the prevalence of discrimination and xenophobic violence. Refugees have included an estimated 350,000 Mozambicans during its 1980s civil war and, more recently, several thousand Somalis, Congolese, and Ethiopians. Nearly all of the tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who have applied for asylum in South Africa have been categorized as economic migrants and denied refuge.

Contraceptive prevalence rate
66.1% (2014)
54.6% (2016)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 68.8 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 63.5 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.2 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 19.1 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 52.5 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 44.8 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 7.7 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 12.9 (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook