Transport and infrastructure in South Africa

Our listing of the primary types of transport compares the infrastructure of South Africa with the average of all countries in Africa. The main traffic and transport routes are in good condition, but do not reach the level of the leading industrial nations.

In terms of the length of its rail network, South Africa ranks 45th in the world with 0.35 meters per inhabitant. In total, the rail network is 20,986 kilometers long. Passenger traffic reached 3.50 billion passenger-kilometers in 2020.

Airports in South Africa

Back to overview: South Africa

Road traffic

The network of roads and highways has a total length of 750,000 km. For each of the country's 59.39 million inhabitants, this corresponds to 12.63 meters. This puts South Africa in 41st place in the global ranking. However, it is also important to note that the country's population density is very low at around 49 inhabitants per km². In this case, disproportionately long distances generally have to be covered to reach the more remote parts of the country.

With an average of 13362 traffic fatalities per year (2013 - 2019), road traffic in South Africa is considered quite dangerous. This corresponds to 23.5 accident fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year. By comparison, this figure is 12.3 in the USA and 17.0 worldwide.

In South Africa, left-hand traffic is the rule on the roads, i.e. you drive in the left lane and overtake on the right. Oncoming traffic comes to meet you on the right side. Here you can also find an overview of all countries with left-hand traffic.


South Africa

 totalper 1 mio
per km²
Roadways750,000 km12,627.91 km615.21 m
Railroads21,000 km353.35 km17.21 m
Waterways0 km0.00 km0.00 m
Commercial harbors1051.770.000


 total per 1 mio
per km²
Roadways2,997,800 km2,151.40 km98.86 m
Railroads88,600 km63.57 km2.92 m
Waterways68,400 km49.09 km2.26 m
Commercial harbors7,9495.700.000

Data sources used

Global Health Observatory Data Repository (World Health Organization)
Internation Union of Railways (UIC)
CIA Factbook
OECD Statistics
Wikipedia (german)
South Africa: AirportsLargest airports and airlines in South AfricaThe 22 biggest airports and 5 airlines in South Africa with further information and data with further information on airlines and destinations
South Africa: ClimateClimate and temperature development in South AfricaA climate analysis for South Africa incl. temperatures, humidity, rain days per month, hours of sunshine, water temperature, rainfalls
Ranking: MegacitiesMega cities - the biggest cities all over the worldRanking of the biggest cities worldwide. On top: Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing