Union of South AfricaThe Union of South Africa came into being on May 31, 1910 when the old Cape Colony and Natal Colony were combined with the defeated South African Republic and Orange Free State Republic after the Boer War. The various parts were thereafter known as, respectively, the Cape Province, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
A self-governing state of the British Empire, the Union remained under the formal rule of the British crown, represented in South Africa by a Governor-General. Effective power was exercised by a Union cabinet responsible to a Legislative Assembly and Senate elected mostly by the country's white minority. Louis Botha, formerly a Boer general, was appointed first prime minister of the Union at the head of a coalition representing the white Afrikaner and English-speaking communities.
The Union of South Africa became the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1961 upon leaving the Commonwealth rather than face threatened expulsion for its government's Apartheid policy of racial segregation.