After the establishment of the first colonial outpost of the Dutch East India Company at Cape Town in 1652, South Africa became a society officially divided into colonizer and native, white and nonwhite, citizen and subject, employed and indentured, free and slave.The result was a fragmented national identity symbolized and implemented by the white minority government's policy of racial separation.The region north of the Witwatersrand, called the bushveld, slopes downward from east to west toward the Limpopo River, which forms the international border.
South Africa is the only nation-state named after its geographic location; there was a general agreement not to change the name after the establishment of a constitutional nonracial democracy in 1994.
The country came into being through the 1910 Act of Union that united two British colonies and two independent republics into the Union of South Africa.
Economic status has paralleled political and social segregation and inequality, with the black African, mixed-race ("Coloured"), and Indian and Pakistani ("Asian") population groups experiencing dispossession and a lack of legal rights.
Since the first nonracial elections in 1994, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has attempted to overcome this legacy and create unified national loyalties on the basis of equal legal status and an equitable allocation of resources. South Africa has an area of 472,281 square miles (1,223,208 square kilometers).
The Drakensburg includes Champagne Castle, the highest peak in the country.
The larger portion of the plateau is known as the highveld, which ends in the north in the gold-bearing Witwatersrand, a long, rocky ridge that includes the financial capital and largest city, Johannesburg.