|9 May 2013 Last updated at 11:26 ET
South Africa A compressed chronology of key events:
4th century - Migrants from the north settle, joining the indigenous San and Khoikhoi people.
1652 - Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.
1795 - British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands. Territory is returned to the Dutch in 1803; ceded to the British in 1806.
1816-1826 - Shaka Zulu founds and expands the Zulu empire, creates a formidable fighting force.
1835-1840 - Boers leave Cape Colony in the 'Great Trek' and found the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.
Late 1850s - Boers proclaim the Transvaal a republic.
1867 - Diamonds discovered at Kimberley.
1877 - Britain annexes the Transvaal.
1879 - British defeat the Zulus in Natal.
1880-81 - Boers rebel against the British, sparking the first Anglo-Boer War. Conflict ends with a negotiated peace. Transvaal is restored as a republic.
Mid 1880s - Gold is discovered in the Transvaal, triggering the gold rush.
1899 - British troops gather on the Transvaal border and ignore an ultimatum to disperse. The second Anglo-Boer War begins.
1902 - Treaty of Vereeniging ends the second Anglo-Boer War. The Transvaal and Orange Free State are made self-governing colonies of the British Empire. (Note: This is what Ireland achieved with the Anglo-Irish Treaty Michael Collins brought home.)
1910 - Formation of Union of South Africa by former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and the Boer republics of Transvaal, and Orange Free State.
1912 - Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
1913 - Land Act introduced to prevent blacks, except those living in Cape Province, from buying land outside reserves.
1914 - National Party founded.
1918 - Secret Broederbond (brotherhood) established to advance the Afrikaner cause.
1919 - South West Africa (Namibia) comes under South African administration.
1948 - Apartheid set in law Policy of apartheid (separateness) adopted when National Party (NP) takes power.
1950 - Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience, led by Nelson Mandela.
1960 - Seventy black demonstrators killed at Sharpeville. ANC banned.
1961 - South Africa declared a republic, leaves the Commonwealth. Mandela heads ANC's new military wing, which launches sabotage campaign.
1960s - International pressure against government begins, South Africa excluded from Olympic Games.
1964 - ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.
1966 September - Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.
1970s - More than 3 million people forcibly resettled in black 'homelands'.
1976 - More than 600 killed in clashes between black protesters and security forces during uprising which starts in Soweto. Soweto Massacre.
1984-89 - Township revolt, state of emergency.
1989 - FW de Klerk replaces PW Botha as president, meets Mandela. Public facilities desegregated. Many ANC activists freed.
Last white leader: FW de Klerk
FW de Klerk, left, oversaw the end of apartheid and won the Nobel Peace Prize with his successor, Nelson Mandela, right
FW de Klerk: Overseer of transition
1990: De Klerk dismantles apartheid in South Africa
1990 - ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.
1991 - Start of multi-party talks. De Klerk repeals remaining apartheid laws, international sanctions lifted. Major fighting between ANC and Zulu Inkatha movement.
1994 April - ANC wins first non-racial elections. Mandela become president, Government of National Unity formed, Commonwealth membership restored, remaining sanctions lifted. South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly after 20-year absence.
1996 - Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu begins hearings on human rights crimes committed by former government and liberation movements during apartheid era.
National hero: Nelson Mandela Anti-Apartheid icon walks free after 25 years in prison to become a revered statesman. Mandela's life and times
1998 - Truth and Reconciliation Commission report brands apartheid a crime against humanity and finds the ANC accountable for human rights abuses.
1999 - ANC wins general elections, Thabo Mbeki takes over as president.
2003 November - Government approves major programme to treat and tackle HIV/Aids. It envisages network of drug-distributon centres and preventative programmes. Cabinet had previously refused to provide anti-Aids medicine via public health system.
2005 March - Investigators exhume the first bodies in a Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigation into the fates of hundreds of people who disappeared in the apartheid era.
2008 May - Wave of violence directed at foreigners hits townships across the country. Dozens of people die and thousands of Zimbabweans, Malawians and Mozambicans return home. December - A new political party is launched in Bloemfontein, in the first real challenge to the governing ANC. The Congress of the People - or Cope - is made up largely of defectors from the ANC and is headed by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota.
2009 January - Appeals court rules that state prosecutors can resurrect their corruption case against ANC leader Jacob Zuma, opening the way for Mr Zuma's trial to be resumed, just months before general election.
2009 May - Parliament elects Jacob Zuma as president. Economy goes into recession for first time in 17 years.
2009 July - Township residents complaining about poor living conditions mount violent protests.
2011 Opposition Democratic Alliance picks a black woman - Lindiwe Mazibuko - as its leader in parliament.
2012 July - Member of white extremist group found guilty of plotting to kill Mandela and trying to overthrow government.
2012 August-October - Police open fire on workers at a platinum mine in Marikana, killing at least 34 people, and leaving at least 78 injured and arresting more than 200 others. Prosecutors drop murder charges in September against 270 miners after a public outcry, and the government sets up a judicial commission of inquiry in October.
2012 December - President Zuma re-elected as leader of the ANC.
For the full timeline as presented by the BBC, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14094918