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c. 1,274,867 (2011)
2.5% of South Africa's population
|Regions with significant populations|
|South African English, Afrikaans, Gujarati, Bhojpuri/Bihari, Awadhi, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Chinese, and Telugu|
|Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and nonreligious|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Asian, Cape Malays, Desi, and British Asian|
The majority of Asian South Africans are of Indian origin, most of whom are descended from indentured workers transported to work in the 19th century on the sugar plantations of the eastern coastal area, then known as Natal. They are largely English speaking, although many also retain the languages of their ancestors. There is also a significant group of Chinese South Africans (approximately 300,000 individuals), of whom the great majority are recent immigrants of the last two decades.
In total the 1.2 million Asians in South Africa represent about two percent of the nation's population. Most are of Indian or South Asian origin, although there is also a rapidly increasing number of people of Chinese, who were sometimes classified as Coloured (mixed race), "Other", or at least partially as "White" under Apartheid). Traditionally, the group does not include the "Cape Malays", who were descended (at least in part) from South East Asians, who were classified as "Coloured" under apartheid.
The term Indian is far more commonly used than Asian in South Africa, although examples of both usages can be found.
There are more than 1 million Indians in South Africa, most of whom are descended from indentured labourers and or as coolie slaves who were brought into the country by the British from India in the mid-19th century. They were hired to work in sugar plantations or mines (especially coal) in the Colony of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). Traders, known as Passenger Indians also subsequently immigrated. Indian South Africans form the largest grouping of people of Indian descent born outside India. Since 1994 however, there has been a steady trickle of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. Most Indian South Africans live in KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in the cities of Durban, Pietermaritzburg and their surrounding areas.
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