2. Data and sources

The official general censuses of the South African population were performed by successive official bodies (predecessors of the present-day Statistics South Africa) for the years 1904 (districts and provinces, no data for localities), 1911, 1921, 1936, 1951, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1985, 1991, 1996 and 2001. Three censuses were removed from the geo-referenced database for reasons of data reliability (1985), incomplete data (1904 and 1985), and difficulties in tracing localities longitudinally (1996). Thus, nine censuses, with inter-census gaps of around ten years, comprise the geo-referenced base with longitudinal follow-up over one century of South African localities (places), urban areas (agglomerations) and territories. Where demographic data are available in two modes of enumeration, de jure and de facto, it is syste-matically the de facto enumeration that is preferred, as it is closer to the actual distribution of the population.

Complementary sources (censuses and reports concerning the homelands).
For the year 1991, data concerning the “independent” homelands of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda (TBVC) are derived from official statistical sources in these homelands. In addition, several studies (Graaf, 1986; HRC, 1992; McCarthy, Bernstein, 1998) were used for the former homelands and townships, in particular for the identification of urban agglomerations.

Finally, the reports issued by Statistics South Africa, the South African Institute of Race Relations and the Urban Foundation constitute valuable sources on issues of socio-spatial segregation and habitat that conditioned the distribution of the South African population on various scales.

Additionally, Raper (2004) was the main source of the names of localities, the years of their creation and when they obtained local government status (municipality, different local government councils…).