Spatial Distribution of the Population in South Africa: a statistical approach
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The purpose of the study was to examine the structural changes occurring in the patterns of spatial population distribution across South Africa over the period 1996-2016. The government in South Africa is perceived as being unsatisfied with the population distribution in the country. Therefore this research has given a better understanding of the settlement patterns in the country. The results can be utilized for regional and urban development planning to guide the government in achieving an even allocation of resources to strive towards a better balance of spatial patterns around the country. The polarisation reversal theory informed the study. In developing countries it is assumed that most of the population resides in rural areas and as time elapses we expect a more dispersed population with more of the population concentrated in urban areas as industrialization and urbanization evolves. The process usually starts with emergence of one or two major cities. The major cities then start to grow quicker than the other regions in the country. This results in unbalanced regional development across the country. This is then followed by the emergence of other smaller cities and towns. It is assumed that South Africa as a developing country will either move from a highly concentrated urban population with most of the population concentrated in one or two major cities to a more dispersed population where other smaller cities and towns are emerging,attracting more people threw migration or South Africa could move from a more dispersed population to a highly concentrated urban population. To test this assumption data will be derived from previous census and community surveys. Specifically the census taken in 1996, 2001,2011, the community survey of 2007 and 2016 respectively provided the data . Using the data sets, relevant statistical indicators of spatial population distribution were to quantify different trends over a period of time. These indicators includes pattern of urbanization and patterns of population settlement over the national territoriality. The results from the data analysis showed that some provinces were urbanizing faster than provinces. Some cities within provinces were growing faster than other cities. The highest concentration of the population is situated in one or two major cities. Smaller cities and towns around the country were growing faster than some major cities and also there is a decline in the rural population over the time period. From a spatial development view point, the insight into the patterns of population distribution can serve as a basis to create policies of which the main targets should be achieving balanced regional development, environmental sustainability, the development of smaller cites, towns and rural areas to slow the migration from these areas.