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INTRODUCING SOUTH AFRICA
Other Name(s): SA, RSA
Archeologists report evidence that humans have inhabited Southern Africa for more than 100,000 years. Over many modern centuries assorted Africa tribes moved steadily south to populate the country we now call South Africa.

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, the Dutch East India Company founded a station at what would later become Cape Town.

After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, Cape Town soon became a British colony. Many of the original Dutch settlers (the Boers) as well as some Flemish, German and French interests moved north to found their own republics.

The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred additional wealth; speculators poured in and that unfortunately intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.

The Boers continually resisted the growing British encroachments, but they were totally defeated in the second Boer War (1899-1902). It was a lengthy conflict involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions.

In 1961 South Africa became an independent republic, but to its great discredit, the government continued its official policy of racial segregation. In 1990, after three decades of brutal racial policies and the oppression of civil rights, the South African government began dismantling their discriminative laws and democratic elections were held in 1994.

The country’s first multiracial election in 1994 was won by Nelson Mandela and African National Congress (ANC) party. Mandela retired in 1999 and Thabo Mbeki, the deputy president, won the presidency in a landslide vote.

Mbeki easily won the election again in 2004, but in 2008, under pressure, Mbeki resigned and the Parliament elected Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president until the 2009 elections. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was elected as the President in the 2009 general election.

Since the end of apartheid, unemployment has been very high. Many attribute this problem to the current governments’ policies and failure to achieve monetary and fiscal discipline, as well as the AIDS pandemic sweeping across Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the positive side, South Africa hosts the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and that event is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into the country.