apartheid


apartheid

(Afrikaans: “apartness” or “separateness”) Policy of racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in South Africa. The term was first used as the name of the official policy of the National Party in 1948, though racial segregation, sanctioned by law, was already widely practiced. The Group Areas Act of 1950 established residential and business sectors in urban areas for each “race” and strengthened the existing “pass” laws, which required nonwhites to carry identification papers. Other laws forbade most social contacts between those of European descent and others, authorized segregated public facilities, established separate educational standards, restricted each group to certain types of jobs, curtailed nonwhite labour unions, denied nonwhite participation in the national government, and established various black African “homelands,” partly self-governing units that were nevertheless politically and economically dependent on South Africa. These so-called homelands were not recognized by international governments. Apartheid was always subject to internal criticism and led to many violent protests, strikes, and acts of sabotage; it also received international censure. In 1990–91 most apartheid legislation was repealed, but segregation continued on a de facto basis. In 1993 a new constitution enfranchised blacks and other racial groups, and all-race national elections in 1994 produced a coalition government with a black majority. These developments marked the end of legislated apartheid, though not of its entrenched social and economic effects. See also African National Congress; racism.

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