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Updated 20.08.2022

Biggest Townships in South Africa

Township is a common term in South Africa referring to underdeveloped urban locations. They are mostly situated at the peripheries of cities and towns. This article lists the biggest townships in South Africa.

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According to 2011 Census data by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the townships below are the largest in South Africa.

Soweto

South West Townships or Soweto is the biggest township in South Africa, with a population of 1 271 628 per the census. It is found Sout West of Johannesburg in Gauteng province. According to data from the same census, it covers an area of 200.03 square kilometers. Additionally, there were 335 331 households in the township. It is the most popular South African township in the world. 

Thembisa

Thembisa township is the second biggest township in South Africa after Soweto, with a population of 463 109. It is located in Gauteng province, like Soweto. It covers an area of 42.80 square kilometers. Its population density is 11 000 people per square kilometer.

Katlehong

Katlehong township is third, with a population of 407 811 according to the 2011 Census. Like the two townships above, it is located in Gauteng province around Johannesburg. It has an area of 55.36 square kilometers and a population density of 8 500 persons per square kilometer.

Umlazi

Umlazi township follows right after Katlehong in size with a population of 404 811. It is located in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, South-West of Durban town. Its area was 47.46 square kilometers as per the census. The population density here is 8 500 people per square kilometer.

Soshanguve

Soshanguve is next, with a population of 403 162. It is located about 30 kilometers North of Pretoria in Gauteng Province. It covers an area of 126.77 square kilometers. The population density is 3 200 persons per square kilometer.

Khayelitsha

Khayelitsha is the sixth biggest township per the 2011 Census, with a population of 391 749. It is located on the Cape Flats in Cape town City, in the Western Cape Province. It covers an area of 38.71 square kilometers. The township’s population density is 10 000 people per square kilometer.

Mamelodi

Mamelodi comes seventh with a population of 334 577. It is found in Tshwane City in Gauteng Province. Its area is 45.19 square kilometers.

Mitchell’s Plain

Mitchells Plain township is next with a population of 310 485. It is located about 28 kilometers from Cape Town City Centre in Western Cape Province. It covers a size of 43.76 square kilometers. The population density in this township is 7 100 people per square kilometer.

Ibhayi

Ibhayi has a population of 237 799. It is located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It has a size of 36.06 square kilometers. Its population density is 6 600 people per square kilometer.

Sebokeng

Sebokeng township is the tenth largest township in South Africa, with a population of 218 515 according to the 2011 Census. It is found in Southern Gauteng. Its area is 46.45 square kilometers. Its population density is 4 700 persons per square kilometer. 

Manguang

Manguang township is next with a population of 217 076. It is located in the larger Manguang Municipality in the Free State Province. It has an area of 46.23 square kilometers.

Ivory Park

The next township on the list is Ivory Park, with a population of 184 383. It is found in the City of Johannesburg in Gauteng Province. It has an area of 9.21 square kilometers. Its population density is 20 000 people per square kilometer, according to the 2011 census.

Botshabelo

Botshabelo township is next in size, with a population of 181 712. It is found in Free State Province. 

Alexandra

Alexandra township is the fourteenth township in South Africa by size as of the 2011 Census, with a population of 179 624. It covers an area of 6.91 square kilometers. Its population density is 26 000 people per square kilometer. 

Kwa-Mashu

Kwa-Mashu township is the fifteenth biggest township in South Africa, with a population of 175 633. It is located 12 kilometers North of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province. It has an area of 21.47 square kilometers. Its population density is 8 200 persons per square kilometer.

Vosloorous

Volsoorus township is next with a population of 163 216. It is located South East of Johannesburg in Gauteng. It has an area of 32.10 square kilometers. Its population density is 5 100 people per square kilometer, according to the 2011 Census.

Mdatsane

The next township on this list is Mdatsane township, with a population of 156 835. It is located in the Eastern Cape Province.

Etwatwa

The eighteenth biggest township in South Africa is Etwatwa, with a population of 151 866. It is located in Gauteng Province. It covers an area of 20.83 square kilometers. Its population density is 7 300 people per square kilometer.

Meadowlands

Meadowlands is the nineteenth township with a population of 138 345. It is located near Soweto township in Gauteng Province, and covers an area of 11.57 square kilometers. It has a population density of 12 000 people per square kilometer.

Tsakane

Tsakane is the twentieth biggest township in South Africa, according to the 2011 Census, with a population size of 135 994. It is located in Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, and covers an area of 19.75 square kilometers. It has a population density of 6 900 people per square kilometer.

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