South African Republic

From Academic Kids

South African Republic Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek
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Flag of the South African Republic

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Transvaal in the Union of South Africa

Capital Pretoria
Created 1857 - Independence

1881 - Boer Rebelion

Dissolved 1877 - 1st British Annexation

1900 - Formal Annexation

Language Afrikaans

The South African Republic (Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, or ZAR), often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent country in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. It is not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa; rather, it occupied the area later known as the South African province of Transvaal. The ZAR was independent from 1857 to 1877, then again from 1881 to 1900 after a successful Afrikaner rebellion against British rule. It was annexed by the United Kingdom in 1900 during the Second Boer War. The first president of the South African Republic was Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, elected in 1857.

The capital was established at Pretoria (founded 1855), though for a brief period Nelspruit served as the seat of government. The parliament, the Volksraad, had 24 members.


The national flag of the ZAR featured three horizontal stripes of red, white, and blue (mirroring the Dutch national flag), with a vertical green stripe at the hoist. The former national flag of South Africa (from 1927 - 1994) had, as part of a feature contained within its central white bar, a horizontal flag of the Transvaal Republic (ZAR).


The Transvaal region is known to have been inhabited since the 8th century by Venda and Sotho peoples. In 1817, the region was invaded by tribes pushed from their land by the Zulu king Shaka and his Impis. This made the region very weak, and easy to colonize by the nearby European settlers.

In the 1830s and the 1840s, descendents of Dutch and other settlers, collectively known as Boers (farmers) or Voortrekkers (pioneers), exited the British Cape Colony, in what was to be called the Great Trek. With their military technology, they overcame the local forces with relative ease, and formed several small Boer republics in areas beyond British control, without a central government.

On January 17, 1852 the United Kingdom signed the Sand River Convention treaty with 5000 or so of the Boer families, recognizing their independence in the region to the north of the Vaal River, or the Transvaal. The Orange Free State, a sister Boer republic, was granted independence around the same time. In 1856 the Boers of the Transvaal adopted the name South African Republic for the region, and a new constitution was put in place.

In 1877, after the republic faced considerable economic hardship and outside Zulu threats, Britain annexed the Transvaal, hoping that this move would be perceived by the Boers as salvation. But it wasn't - the Boers viewed it as an act of aggression, and protested. In December 16, 1880 the independence of the republic was proclaimed again, leading to the first Boer War. The Pretoria Convention of 1881 gave the Boers self-rule in the Transvaal, under British oversight, and the republic was restored with full independence in 1884 with the London Convention, but not for long. Gold was soon discovered in Witwatersrand (1885), bringing in a rush of non-Boer European settlers (called uitlanders, outlanders, by the Boers). This led to a destabilization of the republic.

In 1895, Cape Premier Cecil Rhodes planned to support an uitlander coup d'etat against the Transvaal government. Leander Starr Jameson carried out this plan, without British authorization, in December of that year - in the ill-fated Jameson Raid. After the failed raid, there were rumors that Germany offered protection to the Boer republic, something which alarmed the British. Fearing Britain's imminent annexation, the Boers launched a preemptive strike against the nearby British colonies in 1899, a strike which became the second Boer War.

The Boer War is a watershed event for the British Army in particular and for the British Empire as a whole. It was here that the British first used Concentration Camps in a war setting {the first general use being by the Spanish during the Cuban insurrections of the 1890s}. By May 1902, the last of the Boer troops surrendered, and the independent Boer republic in the Transvaal was no more - the region became part of the British Empire. In 1910 the Transvaal became a province of the newly created Union of South Africa, a British Dominion.

The presidents of the South African Republic were:

18571863Marthinus Wessel Pretorius1st President of the Republic
18631864Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg2th President of the Republic
18641871Marthinus Wessel Pretorius3th President of the Republic
18711877Thomas Francois Burgers4th President of the Republic
18771881British Rule
18811883Pretorius, Kruger and Petrus Jacobus JoubertTroika
18831902Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger5th President of the Republic

See also

es:República del Transvaal no:Sydafrikanske republikk

nl:Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek

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