1815 as a name for a distinct region that had been partly settled by Europeans; 1910 as the name of a nation.
Officially the Republic of South Africa, a nation at the southern tip of Africa spanning the Cape of Good Hope where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe to the north, and Mozambique to the northeast. Its capitals are Pretoria for its administrative government and Cape Town for its legislature. (See also Johannesburg.)
Note: Dutch settlers, known as Boers, were the first Europeans to migrate in large numbers to the territories that now make up South Africa. Britain was granted the territory surrounding the Cape of Good Hope at the Congress of Vienna, and friction between the British and Dutch remained a constant in the region. Tensions were increased by the discovery of gold and diamonds in the late nineteenth century and came to a head in the Boer War (1899–1902), in which the British defeated the Dutch-descended Afrikaners.
Note: South Africa's policy of apartheid, the aggressive separation of the races and enforcement of the inferior political status of all nonwhites, was the hallmark of its internal political system. South Africa's race policies became the subject of international protest and economic sanctions.
Note: Black South Africans, who constitute approximately seventy percent of the nation, protested the racist policies of the white minority through organizations such as the African National Congress (ANC), headed by Nelson Mandela, who spent much of his life in jail as a political prisoner.
Note: Under President F. W. De Klerk, the white minority government released Mandela from jail in 1990 and repealed some of the major laws establishing apartheid. In 1994, the ANC triumphed in elections and Mandela became president. As president, Mandela appointed a truth commission to document human-rights abuses under apartheid.