UNV 100: Sites and Sounds of Africa

Country Information

South Africa is an incredibly diverse country, so much so that it is known as the "Rainbow Nation," however, the nation's history has not always been so sunny. The region has been inhabited by various ethnic groups since the start of the Common Era. Although various European travelers had used the area as a stopping point on their voyages to the Far East since the 15th century, the first settlement was made by the Dutch (Boers) in the 17th century. A new wave of European colonialism was brought by the British in the 19th century. Skirmishes between the Boers and the British began after diamonds and gold were discovered, culminating in the Boer War (1899-1902), which the British won. After WWII, the National Party gained increasing control of the government and instituted the policy of apartheid. Racial issues increased during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s with discrimination against both the native black and Indian immigrant populations. 1989 was a turning point with the rise of F. W. de Klerk to the presidency and a collaboration with Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, that resulted in a new constitution, a transition out of apartheid laws, and South Africa's first multiracial elections in 1994, in which Mandela was elected president. Although the country is still dealing with the effects of the apartheid era, South Africa has become a leading nation on the continent

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