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History of South Africa in only 4000 words

Martie Coetser is a freelance writer from South Africa. She has a keen interest in a variety of topics.

Since 1994 South Africa is composed of nine provinces -

Since 1994 South Africa is a democratic country divided into nine provinces

Since 1994 South Africa is a democratic country divided into nine provinces

Author’s Note

This is a short and simplified summary of South Africa"s history. Detail are available via inserted links in blue.

South Africa before 1652

Perhaps South Africa is indeed the The Cradle of Mankind, as many scientists say it is. After all, various studies show that the South Africa's indigenous San people carry some of the oldest human Y-chromosome haplogroups. These haplogroups are specific sub-groups of haplogroups A and B - the two earliest branches on the human Y-chromosome tree. (Also read: worlds-most-ancient-race-traced-in-dna-study)

A set of tools almost identical to that used by the modern San was discovered at Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012. Tests dated these tools to 44,000 BP.

(BP means 'before 1950'. Radiocarbon dating was first used in 1940. Beginning in 1954, metrologists established 1950 as the origin year for the BP scale for use with radiocarbon dating, using a 1950-based reference sample of oxalic acid.)

Be that as it may, until 1652 no white people lived in the land that would become South Africa.

While the San-people, who were nomadic hunter-gatherer people, and the Khoikhoi people, who raised cattle and cultivated land, lived in the south and south-west regions of SA, other distinct African chiefdoms and kingdoms occupied the rest of the country, each confined to a specific region. Among at least nine language-groups, were the Xhosa-, the Zulu-, and three distinct groups of Sotho people.

Apart from ordinary tribal wars, instigated by power-hunger kings and chiefs, the people were happy and contented. Social structures were thoroughly established and law and order were kept. There were economic relationships between the various groups. Remains of iron tools and weapons, and utensils of clay, indicate that the people lived in the Late Iron Age, in mixed-farming communities based on grain and livestock.

Read DavidOnline's hubs about the Khoisan people HERE.

Read more about the various ethnic groups in South Africa HERE.

Read more about indigenous South Africans here

Read more about indigenous South Africans here

Many rock art was discovered against the walls of cages throughout the country

Many rock art was discovered against the walls of cages throughout the country

Meantime in Europe: The trading of spices

From as early as 3000 B.C, the trading of spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and also opium, fell in the same category as the trading of oil today.

India's South West Coast path, especially Kerala, had established itself as a major spice trade centre. Merchants from all over the world went out of their way to find the best route to India.

The discovery of a sea route to the southern tip of Africa by Bartolomeu Dias in May 1488 was a break-through for the The Portuguese Empire, and even more so when Vasco da Gama finally discovered a route all the way to India in 1499. (The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history and also the longest-lived of the European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries.)