Country of the Month: South Africa

A few years ago, after I graduated college, I took a trip to Greece with a tour group. This group consisted of mostly people from English speaking countries such as Canada, The United States, Australia and one South African. Actually, South Africa isn’t necessarily an English speaking country. I didn’t know this until I met this South African on my trip. I knew a little of the history of South Africa such as apartheid: a policy of political and economic discrimination to keep non-European groups separate from Europeans in South Africa (Britton; pg 38)  but I never realized how different the people of South Africa are from each other and that the majority of them are not British settlers or English speaking. Here is a brief overview of the people of South Africa.

The country of South Africa is made up of people that come from Africa, Asia and Europe. Due to Apartheid, the people of South Africa needed to be legally classified into different racial groups. Here is a list of the different groups of people in order from the most populous to the least populous.

Zulu Village




Jan van Riebeeck
  1. Africans- The majority group in South Africa. The two largest African groups are the Zulu and the Xhosa. They came to South Africa starting around the year 200 and ending around the year 1000. They migrated from northern Africa. 
  2. Afrikaners and Whites- Afrikaners are made up of mostly white descendants of Dutch settlers. The Dutch came to South Africa in the 1600s. Jan van Riebeeck built Cape Colony on Table Bay and the settlers started farming. They were known as Boers or farmers in Dutch. They formed a new language that combined Dutch and local African languages. This language is called Afrikaans. Also included in this group are the rest of the white settlers from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and France.
  3. Coloureds- The third largest group in South Africa is made up of different races that had children together. This group of people is hard to define. Really it just means anyone who is not fully African. Today these people are often referred to as the Rainbow Generation since they are changing the face of South Africa and trying to avoid apartheid ever happening again.  
  4. Asians- Most of this group is made up of people who came to South Africa from India. 

The Rainbow Generation

Britton, Tamara L.. South Africa . Edina, Minn.: ABDO Pub., 2003. Print.

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