South Africa is one of several nations in Steel Division II.
One of the oldest regions settled by humans, South Africa had a long and tumultuous history. Home to a rich and diverse groups of peoples, it became a major local power under the Bantu peoples, who established kingdoms that exploited its vast riches - iron, copper, and gold among others - and forged trade ties with far flung dominions in Arabia, India, and China. However, a combination of climatic changes and conquest by European powers (primarily the Netherlands and later Great Britain) displaced the aboriginal populations, starting a long and bloody history of European occupation.
The British-controlled Union of South Africa came about as a result of a string of wars between the Boers (Dutch settlers and their descendants), African tribes (most notably Zulus under King Shaka), and the British Empire. Seeking to control the wealth of South Africa, especially its deposits of diamonds and gold, the Empire fought a brutal war that pioneered the use of concentration camps and scorched earth warfare in the modern age. The Treaty of Vereeniging was finally signed in 1910, instituting harsh British rule that forced harsh segregationism and racial discrimination, including reserving 90% of the land for use by whites.
The Union naturally supported the British Empire in World War I, despite a lack of popular support by the non-British, which culminated in the Maritz Rebellion (crushed by the British). Notably, over 250 000 South Africans eventually volunteered for military service, hoping for an easing of the harsh segregationism in return for their contribution and the natural riches of South Africa that provided two thirds of gold production in the Empire. This did not pan out, and South Africa would continue to be a segregationist state until the end of the 20th century.
In World War II, South Africa continued to be a vital part of the British war effort, thanks to the rejection of calls for neutrality by pro-German Afrikaner nationalists. Apart from raw resources and strategic ports, South Africa provided tens of thousands of soldiers to the war effort, including infantry, tankers, and pilots, who distinguished themselves in Africa, Italy, and especially in strikes against Axis oil production facility. Racist policies greatly limited available manpower, as the government did not permit non-white soldiers to participate in combat against Europeans, restricting their role to support duties, such as engineering work and transportation.
After victory against fascism in 1945, South Africa broke free of the British Empire after a referendum in 1960. However, it would retain apartheid policies, together with the economic and physical violence it entailed. Identified as a crime against humanity in 1966 by the United Nations, South Africa's membership was suspended and the country was subjected to widespread embargoes. Only in 1994, after decades of struggle and violence, did the age of segregationism come to an end, with the victory of the African National Congress.