Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South West Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterized by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap, which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation's minority white population. According to this system of social stratification, white citizens had the highest status, followed by Asians and Coloureds, then black Africans. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.
Broadly speaking, apartheid was delineated into petty apartheid, which entailed the segregation of public facilities and social events, and grand apartheid, which dictated housing and employment opportunities by race. The first apartheid law was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949, followed closely by the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950, which made it illegal for most South African citizens to marry or pursue sexual relationships across racial lines.