South African Culture




  • Direct: Though mannerisms vary between ethnic groups, most people exhibit distinctive African influences when they communicate. This is a direct speech style. South Africans arrive straight to the point and tend to say what they mean. A South African will make no hesitation in telling you when you are wrong or objecting on the spot. To an Australian, this can come across as overly assertive or blunt.
  • Raised Voices: Afrikaners and black South Africans (particularly females) tend to naturally adopt a louder speaking tone than what most Australians do. It is normal for black South Africans to continue conversations by shouting when situated at a distance from each other (e.g. standing across the road or across a room).


  • Touching: South Africans like to express warmth in tactile actions like hugging and pats on the back.
  • Hands: Putting your hands in your pockets can be misinterpreted by South Africans as disrespectful.
  • Expression: Black South Africans are very animated and are very communicative through their facial expressions when they speak.
  • Eye contact: South Africans tend to maintain steady eye contact through the duration of a conversation; however, older South Africans may avert their eyes to show respect to authority.
  • Personal Space: Black South Africans often sit/stand very closer to each other. Some South Africans may stand at proximities that you consider being uncomfortably close to your personal space. It is likely they have not been made aware of the discomfort Australians feel with it and won’t realise the discrepancy.
  •  Gestures: Making a ‘V’ with the index finger and middle finger, in the shape of the peace sign is very rude if the palm is facing towards yourself.
South Africa
  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Isizulu [official] (22.7%)
    IsiZhosa [official] (16%)
    Afrikaans [official] (13.5%)
    English [official] (9.6%)
    Sepedi [official] (9.1%)
    Setswana [official] (8.0%)
    Sesotho [official] (7.6%)
    Xitsonga [official] (4.5%)
    siSwati [official] (2.5%)
    Tshivenda [official] (2.4%)
    isiNdebele [official] (2.1%)
    Other (2.1%)
    [2011 est.]
  • Religion
    Protestant Christianity (36.6%)
    Catholic Christianity (7.1%)
    Other Christianity (36%)
    No Religion (15.1%)
    Islam (1.5%)
    Other (2.3%)
    Unspecified (1.4%)
    [2001 est.]
  • Ethnicities
    Black Africans (80.2%)
    White (8.4%)
    Coloured (8.8%)
    Indian/Asian (2.5%)
    [2014 est.]
    Note: Coloured is a term used in South Africa to refer to persons of mixed race ancestry
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 49
    Individualism 65
    Masculinity 63
    Uncertainty Avoidance 49
    Long Term Orientation 34
    Indulgence 63
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  • Australians with South African Ancestry
    118,960 [2016 census]
South Africans in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in South Africa.
  • Average Age
  • Gender
    Male (49.2%)
    Female (50.8%)
  • Religion
    Anglican Christianity (14.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (13.7%)
    No Religion (15.1%)
    No Religion (13.6%)
    Judaism (8.9%)
    Other (49%)
  • Ancestry
    South African (38.6%)
    English (22.5%)
    Dutch (5.4%)
    Scottish (4.9%)
    Other (28.6%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    English (74.7%)
    Afrikaans (21.6%)
    German (0.4%)
    Other (2.7%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 97.5% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    Anglican Christianity (14.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (13.7%)
    No Religion (13.6%)
    Judaism (8.9%)
    Other (49%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (24.2%)
    2001-2006 (24.2%)
    2007-2011 (27.2%)
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