South Africa's Rainbow Nation title refers to the incredible diversity of its people, from the original Bushmen inhabitants of the land to the people who migrated and settled there over the years. There is hardly a nation on Earth that is not in some way represented in this diverse country.
The term Rainbow Nation of South Africa found popular appeal from the moment Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu first used it to capture the multicultural nature of the country.
The original inhabitants were the hunter-gatherer San Bushmen. There are only a few of these people remaining in the Northern Cape, but their rich heritage lives on through their ancient rock art. They remain a proud part of the South Africa's Rainbow Nation.
When the pastoral Khoi appeared 2,000 years ago, they brought with them farming. Unlike the San, who did not live in a hierarchical society, the Khoi had a complex social structure.
The next to arrive were black migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, especially from the Great Lakes and Congo regions. They settled mainly in the northern and eastern parts of present-day South Africa, and where they came into contact with the Khoisan, they pushed them west into the drier regions of the Northern Cape. These new arrivals morphed into the various South African tribes that thrive today, including Sotho, Tswana, Xhosa and Zulu.
The Rainbow Nation took on more color when the Dutch arrived in 1652 and the British in the latter part of the 18th century. The Dutch brought slaves from the East Indies, which was the start of what is called the colored people of South Africa, added to by cross-racial liaisons.
A small, but influential French group, escaping religious persecution in France arrived in the late 17th century and were assimilated into the Dutch population. They were followed, after the discovery of mineral wealth, by representatives of nearly every society on Earth. And mining and sugar cane farming brought Indians and Chinese, who settled mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg.
For nearly 350 years their history was defined by clashes and racial oppression. But that changed with the first democratic elections of 27 April 1994 when they all truly became people of the Rainbow Nation.