Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap, which encouraged state repression of Black African, Coloured, and Asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid have continued 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. Prior to the 1940s, some aspects of apartheid had already emerged in the form of minority rule by white South Africans and the socially enforced separation of black South Africans from other races, which later extended to pass laws and land apportionment. Apartheid was adopted as a formal policy by the South African government after the ascension of the National Party during the country's 1948 general elections.