South Africa is a parliamentary republic located in southern Africa.
It is divided into nine provinces. It shares common borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.
The South American society is multi-cultural. In fact, eleven different languages are recognized as ‘official’, among which Afrikaans and South African English.
Nearly 80% of the South African population is of black African descent. Black African peoples have inhabited the country for more than 170,000 years. They were mainly Xhosa, Zulu and Bantu herdmen or peasants.
In 1487, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias landed in South Africa. The nickname he gave to the Cape of Good Hope was Cabos Das Tormentas, which can been translated as Cape of Storms.
About a hundred and fifty years later, the Duch West India Company established a station there, which later became Cape Town. The Dutch transported slaves from Indonesia, Madagascar and India.
A war broke out between the British and the Boers (mainly Dutch, French, German or Flemish immigrants) when diamonds were discovered in the XIXth century. Conflicts also rose among local black communities over land and lifestock interests.
The British took over the Cape of Good Hope area and encouraged British immigrants to settle there. Great Britian abolished slavery in all its colonies in 1833. As a result, the Zulu community grew considerably. At that time, quite a large number of Dutch settlers left the region and settled in the Transvaal region. The two Boer wars (1880-1881 & 1899-1902) saw the victory of the British troops.
During the British and Dutch colonial years, there was no racial segregation so to speak, even though the movement and the settlement of native people were strictly controlled.
The Union of South Africa was created in 1909. It was a dominion of the British empire. Black natives controlled only 7% of the country! Racial segregation, later known as apartheid, was institutionalised a few laters, in the Boer republics. The government established three racial classes: white, coloured and black.
The Union was granted independence from the United Kingdom in 1931. 17 years later, the National party was elected to power and reinforced the segregation laws, which meant that the white minority ruled over a larger black majority, whose living conditions were particularly hard.
In 1961, the country became an independent republic and left the Commonwealth. Even though segregation was becoming very unpopular, both in the country and in the rest of the world, segregation laws were reinforced. As a result, the African National Congress was founded and soon became a major resistance movement.
But thanks to international pressure and the influence of charismatic leaders in each community, things began to change little by little. Ultimately, the State President,F. W. de Klerk, who was also the leader of the National Party, started to dismantly segregation and set free the leader of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela, who had been imprisoned for twenty-seven years. The government eventually gave up apartheid legislation.
The country held its first universal elections in 1994, which were won by the ANC.
It has the largest economy in Africa, even though 25% of the population is unemployed.