Apartheid is a strategy that was used in South Africa between 1948 and 1994 as a form of racial segregation. The word itself is taken from the Afrikaans language, derived from Dutch, that is predominantly spoken in South Africa and means "apartness". The population was divided into 4 categories: black (the largest and native population), whites (the descendants of the Dutch and British settlers), "colored" (those of mixed ancestry), and Indians (immigrants from India) with the white-skinned government providing separate facilities and services for each race. These policies led to much unrest at home and criticism from the remainder of the world and finally came to an end in 1994.

Between 1960 and 1985 3.5 million non-whites were forced out of their homes and moved into segregated housing areas creating one of the largest mass removals in history. In 1970 non-white representation in the government was abolished and black residents of the country were deprived of citizenship. Segregation was enforced in medical care, beaches, education, and public services with the services provided to non-whites being markedly inferior. Apartheid rule caused massive internal turbulence while the international community imposed sanctions and embargos on trade. Throughout the apartheid years, dissenters and rebels were imprisoned for long periods of time. Nelson Mandela, now a well-known name, was one influential dissenter who spent 27 years imprisoned under apartheid rule but went on to lead the country in the post-apartheid years.

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