Apartheid in South Africa was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority non-white inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and minority rule by white people was maintained. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times, but apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into racial groups (“black”, “white”, “colored”, and “Indian”), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. From 1958, black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.
Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long trade embargo against South Africa. A series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more violent, state organizations responded with increasing repression and state-sponsored violence.
Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela.