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HPI score
Ranked #142 of 151

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Experienced well-being
Ranked #107 of 151
Life expectancy
Ranked #138 of 151
Ecological Footprint
Ranked #80 of 151

Key: Happy Planet Index

All three components good
Two components good, one middling
One component good, two middling
Three components middling
Any with one component poor
Two components poor, or "blood red" footprint

Key: Experienced well-being

More than 6.2
Between 4.8 and 6.2
Less than 4.8

Key: Life expectancy

More than 75
Between 60 and 75
Less than 60

Key: Ecological Footprint

Less than 1.78 (the world's biocapacity)
Between 1.78 and 3.56
Between 3.56 and 7.12
More than 7.12

South Africa achieves a Happy Planet Index Score of 28.2 and ranks #142 of all the countries analysed.

South Africa's HPI score reflects a low life expectancy, low levels of experienced well-being, and a moderate ecological footprint.

Other statistics

GDP per capita ($PPP):
10,565 (just over a fifth of the USA's)
50.0 million (#24 of 151)
Land area (square km):
1.2 million (#24 of 151)
Population density (people per square km):
41.2 (#105 of 151)
Governance Ranking (WGI):

South Africa's experienced well-being score is 4.7 out of a possible 10.

This is score is low. It is higher than the average of countries in Sub Saharan Africa (4.33), but is some degree lower the world average (5.28).

The data for experienced well-being draws on responses to the ladder of life question in the Gallup World Poll, which was asked to samples of around 1000 individuals aged 15 or over in each of the countries included in the Happy Planet Index.

South Africa's life expectancy is 52.8 and ranks #138 among the 151 countries analysed.

This is very low. It is considerably lower than the average life expectancy of all countries analysed (69.9) and lower than the average life expectancy in SubSaharan Africa (54.8).

The life expectancy figure for each country was taken from the 2011 UNDP Human Development Report and reflects the number of years an infant born in that country could expect to live if prevailing patterns of age-specific mortality rates at the time of birth in the country stay the same throughout the infant’s life.

South Africa's Ecological Footprint is 2.59 global hectares per capita.

If everyone had the same Ecological Footprint as the average citizen of South Africa:

  • the world's Ecological Footprint would be 5% lower
  • but we would still need to reduce our Ecological Footprints by around 45% in order to stay within sustainable environmental limits

Ecological Footprint is a metric of human demand on nature, used widely by NGOs, the UN and several national governments. It measures the amount of land required to sustain a country’s consumption patterns.

For a majority of the countries (142 of the 151), Ecological Footprint data were obtained from the 2011 Edition of Global Footprint Network National Footprints Accounts. For the nine other countries included (Belize, Comoros, Djibouti, Guyana, Hong Kong, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, and Palestine), Ecological Footprint figures were estimated using predictive econometric models.