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Union of South Africa

From Academic Kids

Union of South Africa is also the name of a LNER Class A4 locomotive, preserved on the Severn Valley Railway

The Union of South Africa came into being on 31 May 1910, comprising four states representing the British and Boer populations of South Africa following the end of the Boer War in 1902. The two British colonies, the Cape Colony and Natal Colony, were combined with the two defeated Boer states, the South African Republic and Orange Free State, known thereafter as the Cape Province, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State, respectively.

Unlike Canada and Australia, the Union was a unitary state, rather than a federation, with each colony's parliaments being abolished and replaced with provincial councils. A bicameral parliament was created, consisting of a House of Assembly and Senate, and its members were elected mostly by the country's white minority.

Owing to disagreements over where the Union's capital city should be, a compromise was reached in which every province would be represented: the seat of government would be in Pretoria (Transvaal), the seat of parliament would be in Cape Town (Cape Province), the judiciary would be in Bloemfontein (Orange Free State), and Pietermaritzburg (Natal) was given financial compensation. This arrangement continues to this day, with government ministers, civil servants, and diplomats moving from Pretoria to Cape Town every year when Parliament is in session, and back to Pretoria when it is not.

The Union remained under the British Crown as self-governing dominion of the British Empire, and later the Commonwealth. The monarchy was represented in South Africa by a Governor-General, while effective power was exercised by the Prime Minister. Louis Botha, formerly a Boer general, was appointed first Prime Minister of the Union, heading a coalition representing the white Afrikaner and English-speaking communities.

Following the 1960 South Africa referendum, in which whites voted in favour of a republic, the Union became the Republic of South Africa on 31 May 1961 and left the Commonwealth in the face of condemnation of its apartheid policies.

Template:Wikisourcecatde:Südafrikanische Union fr:Union de l'Afrique du sud it:Unione del Sud Africa nl:Unie van Zuid-Afrika

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