South Africa

  • Jan 1, 1480

    First European

    The Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias is the first European to travel to Africa
  • The Cape Colony was formed

    Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.
  • British forces seize Cape Colony

    British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands. Territory is returned to the Dutch in 1803; ceded to the British in 1806.
  • British defeats the zulus in natal

  • Formation of Union of South Africa

    Formation of Union of South Africa by former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and the Boer republics of Transvaal, and Orange Free State.
  • Native National Congress founded

    Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
  • Land Act introduced to prevent blacks, except those living in Cape Province, from buying land outside reserves

  • Policy of apartheid (separateness) adopted when National Party (NP) takes power.

  • Population classified by race.

    Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience, led by Nelson Mandela.
  • ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.

  • September - Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.

  • ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.

  • April - ANC wins first non-racial elections.

    April - ANC wins first non-racial elections. Mandela become president, Government of National Unity formed, Commonwealth membership restored, remaining sanctions lifted. South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly after 20-year absence.
  • April

    April - Ruling ANC wins landslide election victory, gaining nearly 70% of votes. Thabo Mbeki begins a second term as president. Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is dropped from the cabinet
  • September - A judge throws out a corruption case against ruling ANC party chief Jacob Zuma, opening the way for him to stand as the country's president in 2009.

  • 2009 May - Parliament elects Jacob Zuma as president.

  • 2011 October - President Zuma sacks two ministers accused of corruption.

  • July - Member of white extremist group found guilty of plotting to kill Mandela and trying to overthrow government.

  • September - Nelson Mandela discharged

    September - Nelson Mandela discharged after spending three months in hospital with a lung infection. Doctors say he remains in a stable but critical condition and will be treated at home.
  • October - Members of a white supremacist group accused of bombings in Johannesburg's Soweto township in 2002, and of plotting to murder Nelson Mandela, are found guilty and given long sentences.