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South Africa Timeline
Travel through our timeline of major events in South Africa's history.
Zulu and Xhosa tribes establish large kingdoms in the South Africa region.
The Dutch establish the port of Cape Town. They are the first Europeans to settle in South Africa.
The British take control of Cape Town.
Gold is discovered in Johannesburg, making the city rich.
BOB THOMAS/POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES
Dutch settlers fight the British in the Boer War. Britain eventually gains control of South Africa.
South Africa becomes an independent nation.
Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born on July 18 in a small village in South Africa. A teacher later gives him the English name Nelson.
Apartheid is introduced. Laws legally and physically separate different racial groups.
The African National Congress, a black civil rights group, begins a Campaign for Defiance of Unjust Laws as a protest against apartheid. Nelson Mandela is one of its leaders.
1960: In the town of Sharpeville, 67 Africans are killed while protesting Apartheid.
BRIAN BAHR—GETTY IMAGES
Mandela is arrested for plotting against the government. Though he stays active politically, he will spend 27 years in prison.
President F.W. de Klerk announces the end of apartheid. Mandela is freed from prison after serving 27 years.
De Klerk and Mandela are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
South Africa holds its first elections in which all races can vote. Nelson Mandela is elected President.
South Africa hosts and wins the World Cup rugby tournament.
Mandela steps down as President.
The African National Congress wins a landslide election, gaining almost 70% of the votes. Thabo Mbeki begins his second term as president.
Jacob Zuma is elected President.
South Africa hosts the World Cup soccer tournament.