Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning "separation" or "being apart". It is usually used to describe a policy that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. This system was used to mistreat and deny rights to non-white people. The laws allowed the white minority to keep the black majority out of certain areas without special papers or permission. School subjects for Africans had to be taught in Afrikaans.
Many countries and the United Nations were very upset at the South African government for their policies. There were protests in South Africa, where many protesters and police were killed. Finally, after much struggle, the South African government ended apartheid in 1994. After that, equal rights were shared among both black and whites. Nelson Mandela stood up to apartheid and became president when apartheid was ended. Although granted equal rights since 1994, 90 percent of the country's poor people are non-white, and the situation has not improved since the days of apartheid.
Apartheid was started in 1948 when the 'National Party' won a vote to decide who should lead the country. After the National Party it separated people in beaches, buses, hospitals, schools and universities. In the 1950s lots of laws were made to separate people.
One of the first laws that were created to separate people said that non white people could not marry white people. This law was made in 1949. Ten years after this a law was made to stop non white people going to universities for white people.
The people who wanted Apartheid wanted all people with different colored skin to live in different places. They said that people from different places should always be kept apart when they were in cities. The Apartheid government in South Africa wanted to move people to make them separate. They sometimes forced people out of their home to do this.

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