In 1488, Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz became the first European to reach the southern tip of Africa.
He called a cape there the Cape of Storms because of its bad weather. To encourage other explorers and traders to journey there, the king of Portugal later changed the name to the Cape of Good Hope.
As early as the 1650s, people from the Netherlands settled in South Africa. They set up a territory known as the Cape Colony. Early in the nineteenth century, Britain seized control of parts of the region.
The Dutch settlers, who were called Boers, from the Dutch word for “peasant” moved from the Cape Colony to lands in the east. Then in 1899, the British and the Boers began a conflict known as the Boer War. A few years later, the British and Dutch territories were joined to form the Union of South Africa.
Today, more than half of the white population of the Republic of South Africa still speaks a form of Dutch known as Afrikaans. However, less than 18 percent of South Africa’s 28 million people are descendants of Europeans.
The rest of the population is of either African, Asian, or mixed ancestry. A system known as apartheid keeps the races separated in South Africa.