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Timeline and History Overview
South Africa Timeline
- 1000 - For thousands of years hunter-gatherers called the San people inhabit South Africa.
- 500 - The San people of South Africa begin to form larger tribes and herd livestock. These people become known as the Khoikhoi.
- 250 - The Bantu people begin to migrate into South Africa from the north. They bring with them iron tools and a knowledge of farming.
- 1488 - Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias sails around the southern tip of Africa. He names the Cape of Good Hope the "Cape of Storms."
Vasco da Gama
- 1497 - Vasco da Gama rounds the tip of South Africa on his way to India.
- 1652 - The Dutch East India Company establishes the Dutch Cape Colony. It was initially meant to be a small port town for ships traveling to India, but eventually became a full settlement.
- 1795 - The British occupy the Cape Colony after the Battle of Muizenberg.
- 1802 - The Dutch regain control of Cape Colony with the Peace of Amiens agreement.
- 1806 - The British once again gain control after the Battle of Blaauwberg.
- 1814 - The Dutch formally agree that the colony is part of the British Empire.
- 1816 - Shaka Zulu forms the Zulu Kingdom. The Zulu become a powerful nation.
- 1828 - Shaka Zulu is assassinated by his brothers. The Zulu Empire begins to collapse.
- 1833 - Slavery is abolished by the British. The Great Trek begins by the Dutch settlers (called the Boers) as they move inland and form their own Boer republics: the Orange Free State and Transvaal.
- 1856 - The Boers of Transvaal declare their own republic.
- 1866 - Diamonds are discovered at Kimberley.
- 1877 - Transvaal is annexed by the British.
- 1880 - The First Boer War begins between the Boers and the British. The Boers win and gain independence for Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
- 1886 - Gold is discovered and the Witwatersrand Gold Rush occurs. The city of Johannesburg grows rapidly.
- 1889 - The Second Boer War occurs. The British win this war and take over Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
- 1910 - The Union of South Africa is formed from the four colonies including Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony, and the Orange Colony. It is under the dominion of the British Empire.
- 1912 - The African National Congress (ANC) is formed.
- 1913 - The Natives Land Act imposes segregation of land based on race.
- 1919 - Jan Smuts is first elected prime minister.
- 1930 - All whites over the age of 21, including women, are guaranteed the right to vote.
- 1934 - The Status of the Union Act declares South Africa's independence from the United Kingdom.
- 1939 - World War II begins. South Africa serves as a valuable sea port for the Allies.
- 1948 - The government policy of apartheid is adopted. Laws are passed to classify the population by race and segregate the land.
- 1950s - The ANC and other groups protest against apartheid.
- 1960 - The Sharpeville Massacre occurs and 69 protestors are killed by police.
- 1961 - South Africa is declared a republic. ANC leader Nelson Mandela forms an armed branch of the ANC to fight against apartheid.
- 1962 - Nelson Mandela is arrested and jailed. He will remain in jail for 27 years. He becomes a worldwide symbol against apartheid.
- 1976 - The Soweto Uprising occurs when high school students march in protest. When the police and the protestors clash at least 176 people are killed including 13-year-old Hector Pieterson.
- 1989 - Frederik Willem de Klerk is elected president. He begins to work to end apartheid. Public facilities are desegregated.
- 1990 - Nelson Mandela is released from prison.
- 1993 - Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1994 - Apartheid is fully repealed. Black people vote in the election and Nelson Mandela is elected president.
- 1996 - The Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins to hold hearings regarding what occurred under apartheid.
- 2010 - The World Cup is held in South Africa.
- 2013 - Nelson Mandel dies.
Brief Overview of the History of South Africa
South Africa has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. Early on in its history, the Bantu tribes migrated to the area. Many of the people that live in South Africa today speak some form of Bantu language.
The first Europeans to come to South Africa were the Portuguese in 1488. It was many years later, however, in 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established a small settlement at the Cape of Good Hope. Many more Europeans moved in over time including Germans, French, and Dutch settlers. These people became known as the Afrikaners.
In 1948 the National Party was voted into power. They started a policy called apartheid. This was where people were separated based on their race. Particularly white people and black people were separated and the white people ruled the land. In 1961, South Africa became an independent nation.
The African National Congress pushed for the end to apartheid and the equal treatment of black South Africans. Nelson Mandela was a leader of the ANC. He spent 27 years in prison while fighting for equal rights. In 1994 apartheid was abolished and black people were allowed to vote.
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