The number of deaths registered in 2009 dropped by 3.8% from 2008 with tuberculosis the main cause of death by natural causes, Statistics South Africa said on Wednesday.
This was followed by influenza and pneumonia, with HIV/Aids seventh.
By category, the leading cause of death by natural causes for children under the age of 15 was intestinal infectious diseases.
This was according to the Statistics South Africa report Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa 2009.
Among infants and children, 7.6% died of malnutrition.
Female deaths exceed men between 20 to 29
The researchers found that 6.6% of deaths occurred within the first year of life, down from 7.7% in 2008.
The highest number of deaths was among those aged 30 to 34 (8.6%), 35 to 39 (8.5%) and 40 to 44 (7.6%).
The lowest percentage of deaths was among those aged five to nine and 10 to 14 years (0.8% each).
People aged 90 and over accounted for 2.9% of deaths.
There were slightly more male (51.4%) than female deaths (48.4%) in 2009.
The absolute number of deaths shows that female deaths exceeded male deaths in the age groups 20 to 29 and 70 and older age groups.
Population group figures treated with caution
The highest percentage of male deaths was among those aged 35 to 39 (9.3%), 30 to 34 (8.4%) and 40 to 44 (8.4%).
For female deaths, the highest percentage was among those aged 30 to 34 (8.6%), 35 to 39 (8%) and 25 to 29 (7.7%).
About 6.9% of male and 6.2% of female deaths were of children under one.
The lowest percentage of all deaths was among five to 14-year-olds.
Most deaths were of blacks with 61.7% and the fewest of Indians or Asians with 1.3%. Whites accounted for 6.3% and coloureds 4.4%. This distribution was similar to previous years.
Researchers warned that the population group figures be treated with caution as the population group of more than a quarter (26.2%) of the people who died was unspecified.
Fewer deaths processed
Nearly half (47.1%) of those who died had never been married.
About a quarter (24.3%) was married or living with a partner while 8.3% were widowed and 1.6% were divorced.
The lowest percentage of deaths was in the Northern Cape (2.6%).
The Western Cape had the highest percentage of deaths of people aged 65 and older.
The number of deaths processed by Statistics South Africa was 572 673, compared with 595 152 registered deaths in 2008. — Sapa
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