South Africa was already experiencing racial segregation during British colonial rule. 'Apartheid' refers to the government policy of segregation and white supremacy that was inflicted on the country during the second half of the 20th century. In many languages, 'apartheid' – a loanwordf rom Afrikaans – has become synonymous with all forms of racial segregation. After the 1948 elections, all South Africans were divided into three categories: 'white', 'coloured', and ‘Bantu’ (all Black Africans). The aim of the system was to allow the white minority to rule over the other groups. The main instrument for achieving apartheid was the 'Group Areas Act', which classified people according to 'race' in different residential areas, also introducing a legally established system of separate schools, universities, hospitals, buses and beaches. In the 1990s, after decades of violence and bloody repression, the apartheid regime gave way under international pressure. In 1994, with the first free general elections, the system officially collapsed and Nelson Mandela, figurehead of black liberation movement ANC (African National Congress), came to power.

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