Asians in South Africa

Asians in South Africa

infobox ethnic group
group = Asian South African

poptime = 1,200,000
2.75% of South Africa's population
popplace = KwaZulu-Natal
langs = South African English, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Chinese
rels = Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity
related = Asian, Desi and British Asian
The majority of South Africa's Asian population is Indian in origin, many of them descended from indentured workers brought to work on the sugar plantations of the eastern coastal area then known as Natal in the 19th century. They are largely English-speaking, although many also retain the languages of their origins. There is also a significant group of Chinese South Africans (approximately 100 000 individuals).

There are about 1.2 million Asians in South Africa, representing about two per cent of South Africa's population. Most are of Indian origin, although there is also an increasing number of people of Chinese and other East Asian origin (sometimes classified as Coloured (mixed race) or White under Apartheid) [] . Traditionally the group does not include the "Cape Malays", descended (at least in part) from South East Asians, who were classified as "Coloured" under apartheid.


There are more than 1 million Indians in South Africa, most of whom are descended from indentured labourers who were brought into the country by the British from India in the mid 19th century, mostly to work in sugar plantations or mines (especially, coal) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Traders also subsequently emigrated. Indian South Africans form the largest grouping of people of Indian descent born outside India, i.e. born in South Africa, not having migrated there. Since 1994 however, there has been a steady trickle of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent. Most Indian South Africans live in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly Durban and surrounding areas.


The smaller Chinese community was initially descended from migrant workers who came to work in the gold mines around Johannesburg in the late nineteenth century, although many were repatriated. They are now vastly outnumbered by more recent Chinese immigrants, including immigrants from Taiwan, with which apartheid South Africa maintained diplomatic relations. Estimates vary, but the Chinese population is reckoned to have increased from 10,000 in the early 1980s to more than 100,000 in the early 2000s. Chinese immigration caused difficulties for the apartheid regime, as immigrants from Mainland China were classified as 'non-white', whereas Taiwanese, Nationalist Chinese, along with Japanese, were considered honorary white, and thus granted the same privileges as whites.cite news|url=|title=Chinese fight to be black|date=2006-12-08|accessdate=2007-05-14|last=Terblanche|first=Barrie|publisher=Mail and Guardian] As part of a broader emigration trend among all ethnic groups in South Africa, many Chinese South Africans have since emigrated to Canada, particularly Ontario.Fact|date=May 2007

In late 2006, it emerged that the Chinese Association of South Africa was preparing legal action to have Chinese recognised as having been disadvantaged under Apartheid, in order to benefit from Black Economic Empowerment. Complicating this attempt is the presence of immigrant Chinese who were not disadvantaged by Apartheid, and vastly outnumber locally born Chinese. A further complication is the less lenient restrictions faced by Chinese under Apartheid, and the honorary white status of Taiwanese and Japanese under Apartheid.

The term "Indian" is far more commonly used than "Asian" in South Africa, although examples of both usages can be found.


South Africa had considered importing labourers from Korea as early as 1903 in order to control rising mining wages, but eventually decided on Chinese workers instead. [cite book|title=Colour, Confusion & Concessions: The History of the Chinese in South Africa|last=Yap|first=Melanie|coauthors=Man, Dianne|publisher=Hong Kong University Press|date=1996|id=ISBN 9622094244|pages=p. 104] As of 2005, a small Korean community had formed in South Africa, estimated at 3,456. [cite web|title=Statistics on Overseas Koreans|url=|publisher=Overseas Korean Foundation|date=2005|accessdate=2007-05-13] Koreans in South Africa are served by three weekend schools for Korean nationals, in Johannesburg (opened 1992), Pretoria (opened 1995), and Cape Town (opened 2001); they enroll a total of 158 students. [cite web|url=|publisher=National Institute for International Education Development, Republic of Korea|accessdate=2007-05-13|date=2007|title=Overseas Korean Educational Institutions: 요하네스버그한글학교] [cite web|url=|publisher=National Institute for International Education Development, Republic of Korea|accessdate=2007-05-13|date=2007|title=Overseas Korean Educational Institutions: 프레토리아한글학교] [cite web|url=|publisher=National Institute for International Education Development, Republic of Korea|accessdate=2007-05-13|date=2007|title=Overseas Korean Educational Institutions: 케이프타운한글학교]

See also

* Desi
* Demographics of South Africa
* Culture of South Africa
* South African English
* Overseas Chinese
* Koreans in Africa
* Asians in Africa


External links

* [ 2001 Digital Census Atlas]
* [ History of Indian Settlement]
* [ Indian Chronology]

Ethnic groups in South Africa

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