Timeline of South Africa

  • Nov 27, 1440


    Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias is the first European to travel round the southern tip of Africa.
  • Nov 27, 1497


    Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama lands on Natal coast.
  • 1652

    Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.
  • 1795

    British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands. Territory is returned to the Dutch in 1803; ceded to the British in 1806.
  • 1879

    British defeat the Zulus in Natal.
  • 1899

    British troops gather on the Transvaal border and ignore an ultimatum to disperse. The second Anglo-Boer War begins.
  • 1902

    Treaty of Vereeniging ends the second Anglo-Boer War. The Transvaal and Orange Free State are made self-governing colonies of the British Empire.
  • 1912

    Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
  • 1948

    Policy of apartheid (separateness) adopted when National Party (NP) takes power.
  • 1950

    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.
  • 1961

    South Africa declared a republic, leaves the Commonwealth. Mandela heads ANC's new military wing, which launches sabotage campaign.
  • 1964

    ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • 1990

    ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.
  • 1999

    ANC wins general elections, Thabo Mbeki takes over as president.
  • 2005

    June - President Mbeki sacks his deputy, Jacob Zuma, in the aftermath of a corruption case.
    August - Around 100,000 gold miners strike over pay, bringing the industry to a standstill.
  • 2010

    June - South Africa hosts the World Cup football tournament.
  • 2012

    December - President Zuma re-elected as leader of the ANC.
  • 2013

    June - Former president Nelson Mandela, aged 94, admitted to hospital for the fourth time in the past year. 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.