Southernmost country in Africa, bordering Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland, and completely surrounding Lesotho. Originally this part of Africa was colonized by the Dutch, but taken over by Britain in 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars. Some of the European settlers refused to be British subjects and moved north to form their own republics, but the discovery of gold and diamonds in the northern part of the colony made many English anxious to control the area. The Boer War ("boer" is Dutch for "farmer") was fought from 1899 to 1902, and one South African web site I saw called it "the Second War for Independence." The English put quite a lot of Boer civilians in concentration camps and burned farms. The British essentially won, but South Africa became independent anyway in 1910.

The apartheid system of racial segregation developed slowly but lasted a long time; the first official apartheid laws were passed in 1913 and organized resistence was not seen until the 1950s. In the early 1990s, the white supremacy policy was lifted and in the 1994 election the newly-legal African National Congress political party was the major winner.