Under the apartheid system, racial segregation was the order of the day in South Africa for more than 50 years. The economically devastating system saw the majority of wealth remain in the hands of Dutch settlers, also known as Afrikaan, while the blacks -- the vast majority of South Africa's population -- lived in poverty.
Origins of the Term
In the Afrikaans language, which is based on Dutch, the word "apartheid" means "separateness." This was the slogan of the Afrikaner National Party that won the South African general election in 1948. Apartheid officially divided South Africa along racial lines, giving Afrikaners -- who were the minority -- unlimited access to land and wealth. The African National Congress, led by the late Nelson Mandela, vigorously opposed the apartheid system that lasted until 1991, when Mandela was released from prison.