Weird: Smallest Province In South Africa Is The Most Populated

South Africa has 9 provinces with different sizes and populations. Each province in South Africa has its own history, landscape, languages, economy, government, and so on. The nine provinces are Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Free State, Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.

It is also weird to consider that the smallest of them is the most populated in the country. Which is the smallest province in South Africa? It is Gauteng.

Before 1994, the country had just four provinces. The provinces include the Transvaal and Orange Free State, then Natal and the Cape. However in 1996, the country, under it, new democratic constitution, gave way to today’s nine provinces. Each of them came with several unique features. For instance, while Gauteng is the smallest in size and at the same time the most populated, Northern Cape, while vast, is almost empty.

Smallest Province In South Africa

1. Gauteng

Gauteng is not just the smallest and most populated province in South Africa, but it is also the country’s wealthiest province. Since it has the reputation for being the center of South Africa’s economy, it is densely a city region, and its huge population is frequently swelled by migration. It is a normal occurrence when citizens move away from poverty to places where they can find jobs that will take them away from poverty. Hence, when moving from poorer provinces, the destination in view is usually Gauteng – which is the wealthiest in the country.

Gauteng (“place of Gold”) has Johannesburg and Pretoria – which are very important metropolises in South Africa. The province has an average of 785 people per square kilometre, and its population is 14.3 million  (which represents 25.3% of the country’s total population). But when we talk about land area, Gauteng can only boast of 18,178 square kilometres (which is 1.5% of South Africa’s total, making it the smallest province in this regard)

2. Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga, after Gauteng, is the second smallest province in South Africa in terms of size -76,495 square kilometres in land area, which is 6.3% of the country’s total. Nevertheless, its population is 4.4 million (which represents 7.9% of South Africa’s total population). The province has 58 people per square kilometre in population density.

Kruger Park is located in Mpumalanga. It is popular for the presence of wide animals like Lion, elephants, and Buffalo. Hence, tourism contributes to the Province’s economy, as the Park is the main attraction of Mpumalanga. It should also be added that the province also offers a large diversity in nature.

3. Kwazulu Natal

KwaZulu-Natal is the third smallest province in South Africa in terms of size (94,361 square kilometres, which is 7.7% of the country’s total). KwaZulu-Natal’s population is 11.1 million (19.6% of South Africa’s total population). And a population density that is 117 people per square kilometre.

Also known as the “Zulu Kingdom”, here is the province you can visit to experience some old traditions of the Zulus. However, the Province also carry modern features of our time, and it has remarkable places that bring attention to the region every now and then (including the Elephant Coast and the Drakensberg)

4. North West

In size, North West goes for 104,882 square kilometres (which is 8.6% of the country’s total size). Its population is around 3.9 million (which represents 6.8% of South Africa’s total population). In population density, North West has 37 people per square kilometre

Sun City is one of the Province’s most remarkable places, as it attracts many to North West. The Pilanesberg can also be found in the North West province – which is the biggest national park in the country.

5. Limpopo

Limpopo is 125,755 square kilometres in size. This represents 10.3% of South Africa’s total size. In terms of population, there are around 5.8 million people living in Limpopo (which is around 10.2% of the country’s total population). In terms of population density, the province has 46 people per square kilometre.

Limpopo used to be known as Northern Province, and one of its biggest features is that it  border neighbor countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It should also be added that a part of the Kruger Park is available in Limpopo, furnishing the Province with tourism attention too.

6. Western Cape

In size, Western Cape is about 129,462 square kilometres (which is some 10.6% of South Africa’s total size). The population of the Western Cape is 6.5 million. This is around 11.5% of the country’s total population. Also in terms of population density, Western Cape has 50 people per square kilometre.

A lot of foreign tourists come around here whenever they visit the country. The province has remarkable places like Table Mountain, Garden Route, Cape Winelands, and others. 

7. Free State

When it comes to size, Free State is 129,825 square kilometres, which is around 10.6% of the country’s total size. In population, there are some 2.9 million people in Free State – which is 5.1% of South Africa’s total population. For population density, Free State is recorded to be 22 people per square kilometre. 

Free State has huge horizons and blue skies. Many farmers in South Africa prefer staying in this part of the country. The province is located in the middle of South Africa and is home to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The province is covered by The Vaal and the Orange rivers. 

8. Eastern Cape

In size, the Eastern Cape is 168,966 square kilometres (this is 13.8% of the total size of South Africa). In terms of the population, however, there are around 6.5 million people in the Province. This is around 11.5% of the country’s total population.

This province is said to be the poorest in the country. Thousands of people have moved away from here to other places. Nevertheless, Eastern Cape is an exciting place for folks who love nature. It has sandy beaches, high mountains, etc. 

9. Northern Cape

In terms of size, Northern Cape is 372,889 square kilometres, which is around 30.5% of the country’s total size. Nevertheless, its population is just 1.2 million people, which is around 2.1% of the country’s total population.


In conclusion, there are nine provinces in South Africa, and each is peculiar.

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