It is one of the largest countries in Africa and one of the richest.
The British and American governments used political rhetoric and economic sanctions against apartheid, but continued to supply the South African regime with military expertise and hardware.
The collapse of the USSR in 1989 meant that the National Party could no longer use communism as a justification for their oppression.
The ANC could also no longer rely on the Soviet Union for economic and military support.
By the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union was in political and economic crisis, and it was increasingly difficult for the Soviet Government to justify spending money in Africa. W de Klerk, the last apartheid Head of State, unbanned the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Pan Africanist Congress.
He states that the collapse of the Soviet Union was decisive in persuading him to take this step: "The collapse of the Soviet Union helped to remove our long-standing concern regarding the influence of the South African Communist Party within the ANC Alliance.
By 1990 classic socialism had been thoroughly discredited throughout the world and was no longer a serious option, even for revolutionary parties like the ANC.
During the Cold War, there was a contest for influence in Africa, between the US and Western powers on the one hand, and the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries on the other.
Most of newly independent ex-colonies in Africa received military and economic support from one of the Superpowers.
In 1891, the price of rubber began to increase following the invention of the inflatable rubber tyre, which increased his profits even further.
He was known locally as 'Bula Matadi' (He Who Breaks Rocks) to indicate the brutality of his regime.