Political Background of South Africa:
The Dutch East India Company established a port in Cape Town in 1652. Dutch settlers and their descendants (known as Afrikaners) ruled most parts of what is today South Africa, pushing more inland towards the East and North. The British took over the area around what is today Cape Town in 1806 and forced their political rule over all the inhabitants. As a result, many of the Afrikaners went more inland to the North (displacing the black farmers already there) to create their own republics in what is known as the Great Trek of the mid-1830s.
Gold and diamonds were discovered in the late 1800’s in those independent Afrikaner republics. The British were envious of the newfound wealth. They initiated and won the Boer War of 1899-1902, defeating the Afrikaners and taking away their political autonomy. Under a political deal in 1910, the British and Afrikaners ruled shared political power under the flag of the Union of South Africa. In 1948, the Afrikaner-led National Party was voted in power. The National Party institutionalized the policy of segregation into a system known as Apartheid. Under the system, the whites were privileged in every way at the expense of every other race. In 1961, white South Africans voted in a referendum to make South Africa a Republic. The white-ruled Republic of South Africa intensified its Apartheid policy of segregation and racism in the face of intense internal opposition, most notably from the African National Congress.
The government systematically imprisoned a majority of political dissidents. They sent the dissident leaders to a high-security prison on Robben Island. Things started to change in the early 1990’s when the Soviet Union collapsed and domestic and international opposition to the Apartheid had reached its highest point. The regime negotiated a peaceful transition to democratic elections and under a system of majority rule. In 1994, the first democratic, multi-racial elections were held. The leader of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela, was elected President of the Republic of South Africa effectively ending Apartheid and a long history of white-rule. After Mandela left, the African National Congress became the strongest political party in South Africa. Fighting within the African National Congress caused Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, to resign in 2008. President Jacob Zuma won the general elections in April 2009, in which the African National Congress won buy a huge margin over all other political parties
Historical Background of South Africa:
As scientists have discovered, early humans originated in Africa. Humans have lived in the area of what today encompasses South Africa for over 100,000 years. More recently, Bantu-speaking farmers came southward into modern-day South Africa, mostly residing in the arable areas of the eastern coast.
The first contact with Europeans was made during the early 1500’s by Portuguese voyagers who discovered a sea route around Africa. Europeans didn’t settle in southern Africa until 1652 when the Dutch East India Company created a port settlement and soon established a colony. From the 1770’s onwards, the colonists expanded North and East coming into contact with the Bantu-speaking peoples. Century of warfare followed. In 1806, the British took over rule of the Cape Colony. Afrikaners did not want to live under British rule so they left to establish the Afrikaner-ruled republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
Diamonds were discovered in the area of Kimberley in the 1860’s. The discovery of gold followed in 1886 in the Witwatersrand area. The British launched the Boer War of 1899-1902 against the Afrikaner republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State to gain control over the precious resources. In 1910, the Union of South Africa was created to include all the white-ruled areas, blacks were denied political rights. The African National Congress was founded in 1912 as a protest against the dominance of whites. In 1913, the white-ruled government passed the Natives Land Act, other legislation was also passed limiting the job and land rights of non-whites.
In 1948, the Afrikaner National Party was voted in power by the whites. The National Party expanded segregation and racist policies and systematized them into what became known as the system of Apartheid, or “separateness.” Under the idea of “separate development”, the scattered and marginalized Homelands of the African population were to be excluded from the Republic of South Africa. Opposition leaders, like ANC leader Nelson Mandela, were sent to prison for life in 1963. Protests continued and the June, 1976 Soweto uprisings marked the beginning of a continuous, country-wide, multi-racial revolt against Apartheid. The scale of the opposition to Apartheid within South Africa was so massive that the government was forced to offer limited legal reforms in the early 1980’s, such as allowing the existence of black trade unions.
In 1990, South African President de Klerk recognized that Apartheid could not be sustained and thus unbanned opposition parties and released political prisoners. In April 1994, South Africa held its first democratic, multi-racial election in which the African National Congress won by a large majority, and thus African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela created a national unity government. Apartheid effectively ended and the new nation embarked on a difficult journey to reconstruct the country.
Two decades after the end of Apartheid, many problems still remain unsolved in the Republic of South Africa. The 2010 Soccer World Cup served as a milestone for the country. During the Soccer World Cup, post-Apartheid South Africa was introduced to the world and the government used the opportunity to increase development efforts.
Demographic Background of South Africa:
South Africa has the biggest economy in Africa however is still considered Developing by the Human development Index. The country has 11 official languages, including both European and traditional African languages representing the population as a whole. The Country has the total population being approximately 49,000,000, the median age of the population is 25 years old. This means that the countries population is made up of a large Labor force, however South Africa suffers from large rates of unemployment in many different sector of the economy. From this population the majority of people, 79 percent, are black Africa followed by 9.6 percent of the population being white. Colored, or mixed race makes up 8.9 percent of the population while the Indian and Asian South African make up 2.5 percent. The majority of the population, 62 percent, lives within or around major metropolitan areas such Johannesburg. This is perhaps due to the forced removal and movement of people under the apartheid area.
South Africa has a negative population growth of .38 percent, meaning that the country has more deaths then births. Which isn’t surprising because South Africa has the largest number of people, 5.6 million, living with HIV/AIDs in the world. Approximately 8 percent of the Adult population has HIV/AIDs. The HIV/AIDs epidemic in South Africa is often associated with the large trading routes and migrant workers entering the country. Since 1994, there has been and increase migration into South Africa from many other African nations because of South Africa’s economic development statues in the world.
Background of the Physical Geography of South Africa:
South Africa is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa and is surrounded by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The country is approximately half the size of Texas, a total of 1,219,090 Kilometers. South Africa also has a large coastline of about 2 thousand Kilometers long. Both the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans touch the coast line of South Africa, and join at the Cape of Agulhas. South Africa has a mostly semiarid climate with some subtropical regions and Mediterranean regions. While only 12.1 percent of the land in South Africa is arable the climate allows for South Africa to have a large agricultural sector. Furthermore Irrigation allows for more land to be used for agricultural purposes, in South Africa today 11, 4890 square kilometers is Irrigated land. Mining is also a huge part of South Africa’s economic sector. South Africa the world’s largest amount of platinum, and is famous for its gem diamonds and gold. South Africa also has large amounts of chromium,, coal and iron ore, nickel, phosphate, copper, salt and natural gas. South Africa’s physical geography provides the country with economic stability through its agricultural and mining but also through increase tourism due to the countries natural beauty.
The authors of this page referred to the following sources for historical guidance: