History: The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. S. Africa includes the original white colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State. Formerly known as the Union of South Africa (formed in 1910), it became a republic after leaving the Commonwealth in May 1961.
The country adopted a policy of apartheid, the separate development of racial groups. Self-government was given to Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei. There were six other homelands which were territories with a degree of self-government but still forming the part of the Republic, Kwa Zulu, Gazankulu, Lebowa, qwaqwa, Ka Ngwane and Kwa Ndebele.the homelands ceased to exist when apartheid ended.
The year 1990 witnessed softening of the Whites’ attitude towards the 26 million agitating blacks. The government lifted the ban on African national congress, the primary black group fighting to end white minority rule, and its leader 71-year-old Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years of confinement.
However, events of 1992 and 1993 once again worsened the situation and hopes of an end to the South African tragedy began thinning. Sporadic factional violence continued between supporters of ANC and the Zulu Inkatha party.
Constitutional talks began in Dec. ’91 but killings interfered, and talks re-opened in Apr. ’93. In Dec. parliament adopted a transitional constitution paving the way for a new multi-racial parliament to be elected in April, ’94. Thus the first general election in S.Africa on the basis of a one-person one-vote system took place on Apr. 26-28 and ANC got 62.25% of votes. On May 10, Mandela was sworn in (the first black) president. South Africa was again admitted to OAU, NAM, Commonwealth and UN General Assembly. A new South Africa was born.
The nine new provinces of South Africa are the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, the Northern Cape,Free State, North-West, Gauteng, Eastern Transvaal, and Northern Tansvaal.
On May 8, 1996, south africa’s Constitutional assembly adopted a post-apartheid constitution.
Economy: South Africa is the richest African country. The major agricultural products are cotton, what, maize, tobacco, sugarcane, citrus fruits and dairy products. With vast mineral resources, South Africa is the biggest gold and diamond producing country in the world and one of the biggest producers of uranium. About 47 per cent of the world’s total production of gold is from South Africa. Other minerals include coal, copper, tin, manganese, iron, lead and chrome. Manufacturing industries include heavy engineering, chemicals, textiles, steel, plastic and food processing.
South Africa is the only country in the world which, having exploded a nuclear device with US collaboration renounced the nuclear parth subsequently and signed both NPT and CTBT. The Truth Commission (1995) headed by Desmond Tutu investigated human rights abuses under apartheid and a report was submitted.
On July 18, 1998, Nelson Mandela married Graca machel. He retired in June, ’99. Thabo Mbeki took over on June 16.
Recent Events: S. African capital Pretoria has been renamed Tshwane. In July 2005, a report from the department of health suggested that over 6 million (out of a population of 40m). are HIV positive- 1.5 m. more than another government agency had estimated in may.