The average household income in South Africa has more than doubled over the past decade, according to the 2011 Census results. File photo by Mujahid Safodien.

Cape Town -

South Africa's population had swelled to 51.8 million people by October last year, according to 2011 Census results, released on Tuesday.

This is seven million more people than a decade earlier.

The document, handed to President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria by Statistician-General Pali Lehola at a ceremony in Pretoria, provides a snapshot of the situation in the country at midnight on October 9 last year.

Among its findings are:

* household income in South Africa has more than doubled since the last census in 2001;

* almost eight out of every 10 people in the country are black;

* close to 60 percent of the population is under the age of 35.

Zuma hailed the census, saying it would play a crucial role in the country's public administration.

“This is the tale of our national pride, the South Africa I know, the home I understand, our census report.

“The results are used to ensure equity in the distribution of government services and funds among various regions and districts for basic services,” he said.

According to the results, South African households earned an average annual income of R103 204 in October last year, more than twice the annual average income of R48 000 a decade earlier.

However, the black majority still earned significantly less than their coloured, Indian, and white counterparts.

“African-headed households were found to have an average annual income of R60 613 in 2011,” it found.

White households earned on average about six times more than blacks, with R365 134 per annum.

The average coloured household made about R112 000 a year, and Indian households just over R250 000.

The document shows there were 51 770,560 people in the country in October last year, compared to 44,819,778 counted in 2001.

It also found there were more women than men. Of the 51.8 million total population, about 25.2 million are male, and 26.6 million are female.

Further, the census results show that Gauteng, the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, is the most populous, with 12.3 million people.

The province has now overtaken KwaZulu-Natal as the province with the largest population in the country, the document states.

By contrast, the country’s largest province, the Northern Cape, has the least number, with 1.1 million people.

KwaZulu-Natal has 10.3 million people.

A breakdown of the country by population group shows 41 million people described themselves as black; 4.62 million as coloured; 4.59 million as white; and 1.3 million as Indian or Asian, during the count last year.

In the previous census, in 2001, there were 35.4 million black people, 3.99 million coloureds, 1.1 million Indians or Asians, and 4.29 million whites.

For the first time in post-1994 census history, the number of people identifying themselves as coloured exceeds those describing themselves as white.

A breakdown of the population by age shows there are more children in the zero to four age group than in any other bracket.

Over 5.6 million South Africans are under the age of four, while 4.8 million children are aged five to nine, and close to 4.6

million are between the ages of 10 and 14.

“Almost one in three, or 29.6 percent of the population of South Africa, is aged between zero and four years, and a further 28.9

percent is aged between 15 and 34 years,” according to the document.

On services, it finds there are close to 1.3 million households in South Africa without access to piped water, the majority of them black households.

A breakdown by population group shows there are 1 234 087 black, 15 723 coloured, 2 672 Indian or Asian, and 10 738 white households with “no access to piped (tap) water”.

It also reveals there are still 297 847 households using the notorious bucket toilet system.

In addition to this, as many as 748 597 households around the country have no toilet system at all, while 8,242,924 have flush toilets connected to a sewage system.

On ownership of goods and appliances, the census found that of the total 14.5 million homes around the country, almost 10.7 million have a TV, while 9.9 million have a fridge.

Further, more than 12.8 million households have a cellphone, 11.1 million have an electric or gas stove, and 8.6 million own a DVD player.

Highlighting the poverty that persists in many regions, the census notes there are more than 1.2 million “informal” dwellings, including in squatter camps. Most these are in Gauteng (434,075) and the Western Cape (191,668).

This total does not include the 712,956 “backyard” shacks around the country.

On languages spoken by South Africans, the census found more than a fifth of the population speak isiZulu at home.

Just over 11.5 million people use isiZulu as their first language, followed by isiXhosa, which is spoken by eight million South Africans.

Afrikaans remains the third most popular language in SA households.

Over 13.5 percent of the national population speak Afrikaans, just slightly up from the 2001 figure of 13.3 percent.

The number of South Africans who speak English as a first language increased by more than a million, from 3.7 million to about 4.9 million.

The third census undertaken in post-1994 South Africa also reveals some major shifts in population between provinces.

The greatest appears to have been in Gauteng. There were 7.6 million people counted in that region in the 1996 census. This had grown to 9.2 million by 2001 (a 20.4 percent increase), and to 12.3 million last year - an increase of 33.7 percent from 1996 to 2011.

The population of the Western Cape grew by 28.7 percent Ä from almost four million to 5.9 million - over the same period.

Mpumalanga grew by 20 percent; from 3.1 million in 1996, to just over four million last year.

In contrast, the Free State's population - pegged at 2.7 million in October last year - grew by 1.4 percent over the 15-year period.

Compared to a national population increase of 15.5 percent between 1996 and 2011, this suggests people are migrating out of the province.

According to Statistics SA officials at the briefing on Tuesday, the latest census had an estimated 14.3 percent “undercount”, down from the 17 percent undercount in the previous (2001) one.

A system of estimation and adjustment was used to arrive at a “true population” figure for the country.

Undercounts of less than 10 percent are considered to be a good indicator of an accurate census. - Sapa