It was inhabited by Australopithecines since at least 2.5 million years ago. Modern human settlement occurred around 125,000 years ago in the Middle Stone Age, as shown by archaeological discoveries at Klasies River Caves.
Exploration and Colonisation
Many countries explored South African territories:
- Portugal: In November 1497, a fleet of Portuguese ships under the command of the mariner Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope.
- The Netherlands: In 1652, the Dutch East India Company decided to establish a permanent settlement at the Cape. This company didn’t want to colonise the area, only to establish a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter.
- The UK: In 1795, to prevent the Cape Town falling to the First French Republic (during the Napoleonic Wars), the British Empire took over the area. Later, in 1803, it returned to the Batavian Republic. But in 1806, the UK annexed the colony and expanded it,.
During the apartheid
The apartheid was a institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and 1991 and in Namibia between 1948 and 1990.
It consisted of the creation of separate places for housing, study or recreation for different racial groups and the exclusive power of the white race to vote. Its purpose was to retain power for the white minority that governed the country.
The first piece of apartheid legislation was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), followed by the Immorality Act (1950) and the Population Registration Act (1950). This last one classified all South African in black, white, coloured and indian; the last two of which included several sub-groups.
At the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union withdrew its economic and military support to Angola and Cuba, making it impossible for countries to continue the struggle; similarly, the United States in South Africa. The consequences of the Pretoria government, and the beginning of the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, were in effect until the 1990s.