Rainfall and mineral wealth have concentrated population and economic activity in the eastern half of South Africa. The west, except for Cape Town and the surrounding farmlands (fruit and wine), is dry and thinly peopled, its non-white population being mainly 'Coloured' (European-Hottentot and other mixed stock), with a few nomad Hottentot and Bushmen. The east contains the plateau farmland (platteland) of the Transvaal and O.F.S.; the gold which caused the influx of British and other miners and fortune- hunters to the Rand and the destruction of the rural Boer republics in the war of 1899-1902; many other minerals (O); and the plantations on Natal's sub-tropical lowlands. It also contains nearly all South Africa's 11 million Bantu Africans, who include 3 million (Ama-)Zulu, 31/2 million (Ama-)Xhosa, etc., and 11/4 million Sotho (Basuto). In the 18th century, Xhosa expansion westward across the Fish river was turned back by Boers pushing east from Cape Town. In the 19th century Boers and British drove in among the Bantu tribes, which were in disarray owing to waves of Zulu and Matabele attacks and conquests, and eventually pinned the bulk of them down in the south-east. Today, outside the 'native areas' (reserves) which cover only a seventh of the country, Africans' movements are restricted by passes which in turn depend mainly on employment by whites.
The government has proclaimed the goal (judged impracticable by independent critics) of consolidating the reserves into 7 self- governing tribal units ('Bantustans'). But over half the Africans now live outside the reserves, and 3 million work in 'white' towns and at the Transvaal and O.F.S. mines. (The labour on which South Africa's mines and industries depend -- it produces two-fifths of all Africa's manufactures -- includes 500,000 migrant workers from Mozambique and the three protectorates -- 37). The increasingly detribalized urban Africans, with the Coloureds, and the Indians (mainly in Durban and other Natal towns) have felt the severest impact of total segregation (apartheid -- now also termed 'separate development'). Non-whites in 'white' towns have to return each night to strictly controlled 'locations' or 'townships'. A campaign against the pass laws led to the shooting of demonstrators in 1960 at Sharpeville, a township near Vereeniging, which aroused world-wide indignation.
The African National Congress (led by Chief Albert Luthuli), which co-operates with Indian, Coloured, and liberal white groups,