Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia to its south and west. The state's largest city is Baltimore, its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, the Chesapeake Bay State, it is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary. Sixteen of Maryland's twenty-three counties border the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay estuary and its many tributaries, which combined total more than 4,000 miles of shoreline. Although one of the smallest states in the U. S. it features a variety of climates and topographical features that have earned it the moniker of America in Miniature. In a similar vein, Maryland's geography and history combines elements of the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions of the country. One of the original Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, a Catholic convert who sought to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England.
In 1632, Charles I of England granted Calvert a colonial charter, naming the colony after his wife, Queen Mary. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who enforced religious conformity in their settlements, Calvert envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined this principle by penalizing anyone who "reproached" a fellow Marylander based on religious affiliation. Religious strife was common in the early years, Catholics remained a minority, albeit in greater numbers than in any other English colony. Maryland's early settlements and population centers clustered around rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay, its economy was plantation-based, centered on the cultivation of tobacco. The need for cheap labor led to a rapid expansion of indentured servants, penal labor, African slaves. In 1760, Maryland's current boundaries took form following the settlement of a long-running border dispute with Pennsylvania.
Maryland was an active participant in the events leading up to the American Revolution, by 1776 its delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of its citizens subsequently played key military roles in the war. In 1790, the state ceded land for the establishment of the U. S. capital of Washington, D. C. Although a slave state, Maryland remained in the Union during the U. S. Civil War, its strategic location giving it a significant role in the conflict. After the war, Maryland took part in the Industrial Revolution, driven by its seaports, railroad networks, mass immigration from Europe. Since the Second World War, the state's population has grown to six million residents, it is among the most densely populated states in the nation; as of 2015, Maryland had the highest median household income of any state, owing in large part to its close proximity to Washington, D. C. and a diversified economy spanning manufacturing, higher education, biotechnology. Maryland has been ranked as one of the best governed states in the country.
The state's central role in American history is reflected by its hosting of some of the highest numbers of historic landmarks per capita. Maryland is comparable in overall area with Belgium, it is the 42nd largest and 9th smallest state and is closest in size to the state of Hawaii, the next smaller state. The next larger state, its neighbor West Virginia, is twice the size of Maryland. Maryland possesses a variety of topography within its borders, contributing to its nickname America in Miniature, it ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the Chesapeake Bay, to rolling hills of oak forests in the Piedmont Region, pine groves in the Maryland mountains to the west. Maryland is bounded on its north by Pennsylvania, on its west by West Virginia, on its east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, on its south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginia; the mid-portion of this border is interrupted by District of Columbia, which sits on land, part of Montgomery and Prince George's counties and including the town of Georgetown, Maryland.
This land was ceded to the United States Federal Government in 1790 to form the District of Columbia.. The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore. Most of the state's waterways are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with the exceptions of a tiny portion of extreme western Garrett County, the eastern half of Worcester County, a small portion of the state's northeast corner. So prominent is the Chesapeake in Maryland's geography and economic life that there has been periodic agitation to change the state's official nickname to the "Bay State", a nickname, used by Massachusetts for decades; the highest point in Maryland, with an elevation of 3,360 feet, is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, in the southwest corner of Garrett County, near the bo
HBO is an American premium cable and satellite television network owned by the namesake unit Home Box Office, Inc. a division of AT&T's WarnerMedia. The program which featured on the network consists of theatrically released motion pictures and original television shows, along with made-for-cable movies and occasional comedy and concert specials. HBO is the oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service in the United States, having been in operation since November 8, 1972. In 2016, HBO had an adjusted operating income of US$1.93 billion, compared to the US$1.88 billion it accrued in 2015. HBO has 130 million subscribers worldwide as of 2016; the network provides seven 24-hour multiplex channels, including HBO Comedy, HBO Latino, HBO Signature, HBO Family. It launched the streaming service HBO Now in April 2015 and has over 2 million subscribers in the United States as of February 2017; as of July 2015, HBO's programming is available to 36,493,000 households with at least one television set in the United States, making it the second largest premium channel in the United States.
In addition to its U. S. subscriber base, HBO distributes content in at least 151 countries, with 130 million subscribers worldwide. HBO subscribers pay for an extra tier of service that includes other cable- and satellite-exclusive channels before paying for the channel itself. However, a regulation imposed by the Federal Communications Commission requires that cable providers allow subscribers to get just "limited" basic cable and premium services such as HBO, without subscribing to expanded service. Cable providers can require the use of a converter box—usually digital—in order to receive HBO. HBO provides its content through digital media. HBO maintains near-ubiquitous distribution in hotels across the United States through agreements with DirecTV, Echostar, SONIFI Solutions, Satellite Management Services, Inc. Telerent Leasing Corporation, Total Media Concepts and World Cinema as well as cable providers that maintain hospitality service arrangements with individual hotels and local franchises of national hotel/motel chains.
Since June 2018, through a content partnership with Enseo, HBO Go is distributed to some Marriott International hotels around the U. S.. Many HBO programs have been syndicated to other networks and broadcast television stations, a number of HBO-produced series and films have been released on DVD. Since HBO's more successful series air on over-the-air broadcasters in other countries, HBO's programming has the potential of being exposed to a higher percentage of the population of those countries compared to the United States; because of the cost of HBO, many Americans only view HBO programs through DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication—months or years after these programs have first aired on the network—and with editing for both content and to allow advertising, although several series have filmed alternate "clean" scenes intended for syndication runs. In 1965, Charles Dolan—who had done pioneering work in the commercial use of cables and had developed Teleguide, a closed-circuit tourist information television system distributed to hotels in the New York metropolitan area—won a franchise to build a cable television system in the Lower Manhattan section of New York City.
The new system, which Dolan named "Sterling Information Services", became the first urban underground cable televisi
The Punisher (2004 film)
The Punisher is a 2004 American action crime thriller film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, starring Thomas Jane as the antihero Frank Castle/The Punisher and John Travolta as Howard Saint, a money launderer who orders the death of Castle's entire family. The film's story and plot were based on two Punisher comic book stories: The Punisher: Year One and Welcome Back, along with scenes from other Punisher stories such as Marvel Preview Presents: The Punisher #2, Marvel Super Action Featuring: The Punisher #1, The Punisher War Zone, The Punisher War Journal; the Punisher was shot on location in Tampa and surrounding environs in mid to late 2003. It was distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment in North America, although Artisan Entertainment, which released a 1989 film adaptation of the same name on DVD, financed and co-distributed the film with eventual Artisan owner Lionsgate, while Columbia Pictures distributed the film in non-North American countries. Screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh agreed to helm the film during its development stage despite a dispute with Marvel Studios, marking his directorial debut.
The film was released on April 16, 2004, by Lionsgate, grossing $13 million in the United States over its opening weekend, reached a total gross of $54 million against a budget of $33 million. It has a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Marvel Comics and Lionsgate began development on a sequel, The Punisher 2, which instead became the 2008 reboot Punisher: War Zone after Jane and Hensleigh left the project due to creative differences; this would be the final film produced by Artisan Entertainment for theatrical distribution. A smuggling operation in Tampa Bay results in the deaths of Bobby Saint, the son of mafia boss Howard Saint, Otto Krieg, the arms dealer. Krieg is revealed to be undercover FBI agent and Delta Force veteran Frank Castle on his final mission before retirement. Enraged over the death of his son, Howard Saint acquires confidential information regarding Krieg and learns of his true identity, he orders Castle killed at a family reunion, while his wife Livia requests that his family be killed as well.
At the reunion, Saint's men, among them Quentin Glass and Bobby's identical twin, kill Castle's entire family and shoot Castle, leaving him for dead. Castle is nursed back to health by a local fisherman. With the police and FBI unwilling to pursue the killers due to Saint's power and influence, Castle moves into an abandoned apartment occupied by three outcasts, Joan and Dave, begins his mission to bring the Saints down. With information provided by Mickey Duka, one of Saint's more benevolent and disgruntled associates, Castle studies the Saint family and learns their every move, in the process discovering Glass to be a closeted homosexual, he attacks Saint's business and sabotages his partnership with his Cuban partners. Saint discovers Castle sends assassins to kill him; the first, Harry Heck, ambushes Castle on a bridge but is killed when Castle slits his throat with a ballistic knife. The second, a Russian behemoth, nearly beats Castle to death in his own apartment. Castle kills him by dousing his face in boiling oil and pushing him down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck.
John and the goons arrive for Castle. The tenants hide Castle and refuse to disclose his location, despite Glass pulling Dave's piercings out with pliers, they leave one of their men to intercept Castle. With Mickey's help, Castle arranges for Glass to be at certain places posing as an anonymous blackmailer while planting Livia's car in the same location, placing one of Livia's earrings in Glass's bed, leading Saint to believe they are having an affair. Saint confronts and kills Glass in his own home by stabbing him to death, throws Livia onto a railroad, where she is run over by a train. With Saint despondent, Castle assaults Saint's club and kills every member of his mob, among them John, though Saint, escapes. Castle shoots him in a duel; as Saint lies dying, Castle reveals his schemes that led Saint to kill his friend and wife, ties him to a car leading to a car park laced with explosives. Saint dies in the subsequent explosion. Castle returns home and prepares to kill himself with his mission fulfilled, but sees a vision of his wife and changes his mind, instead deciding to continue to fight crime as the Punisher.
He leaves some of Saint's money as a farewell gift to the tenants for protecting him. The film ends with Castle standing alone on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, as he vows, "Those who do evil to others...the killers, the rapists, sadists...you will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher". Hensleigh and Arad said in many interviews that Jane was the first and only actor to be asked to play the title role. Arad had pursued Jane for other roles in Marvel Studios films, he turned down the Punisher twice. Jane said, when asked the second time to play the Punisher, that he became interested when Arad sent Tim Bradstreet's artwork of the character. After learning more about the Punisher, he accepted. Jane went on to read as many Punisher comics he could find to understand the character, became a fan of the Punisher in the process. Jane trained for six to seven months with the United States Navy SEALs and gained more than twenty pounds of muscle for the part. Marvel Studios began development for a new Punisher film as early as 1997.
In 2000, Marvel made a long-term agreement with Artisan Entertainment to turn 15 of their characters into films and TV shows, among them The Punisher with Gale Anne Hurd to produce. The Punisher marked Marvel's first major independent release as an equity owner, wher
The Mist (film)
The Mist is a 2007 American science-fiction horror film based on the 1980 book The Mist by Stephen King. The film was directed by Frank Darabont. Darabont had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s; the film features an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Samuel Witwer, Toby Jones, future The Walking Dead actors Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Melissa McBride, Juan Gabriel Pareja. Filming for The Mist began in Shreveport, Louisiana, in February 2007; the film was commercially released in the United States and Canada on November 21, 2007. Darabont has since revealed that he had "always had it in mind to shoot The Mist in black and white", a decision inspired by such iconic films as Night of the Living Dead and the "pre-color" work of Ray Harryhausen. While the film's cinematic release was in color, the director has described the black and white print as his "preferred version."The director revised the ending of the film to be darker than the novella's ending, a change to which King was amenable.
Darabont sought unique creature designs to differentiate them from his creatures in past films. Although a monster movie, the central theme explores what ordinary people will be driven to do under extraordinary circumstances; the plot revolves around members of the small town of Bridgton, Maine who, after a severe thunderstorm causes the power to go out the night before, meet in a supermarket to pick up supplies. While they struggle to survive, an unnatural mist envelops the town and conceals vicious, Lovecraftian monsters as extreme tensions rise among the survivors. Following a violent thunderstorm which sent a tree crashing down on the Drayton home, David Drayton leaves his wife, Stephanie, at home while he ventures into town with his eight-year-old son Billy and their neighbor Brent Norton to buy supplies for repairs. Arriving at a grocery store and the other patrons notice unusual police and military activity. Three soldiers enter an MP warns them to depart. Moments a panicked and injured man, Dan Miller, runs into the store screaming that there's "something in the mist!".
Soon after, a thick mist envelops the store, accompanied by earthquake-like tremors, setting off the town's civil defense alarm. A pious woman, Mrs. Carmody, believes that this is the beginning of Armageddon. Against objections from the others, a shaken woman leaves the store to go home to her children. While investigating the store's generator, bag-boy Norm volunteers to go outside to fix the clogged exhaust vent, but is attacked by the tentacles of an unseen monster and dragged into the mist. At first, everyone is skeptical of the tale, but store manager Bud Brown and a local biker are convinced when they see a severed tentacle by the loading bay door. Realising the store front is plate glass, the people trapped in the store block the windows with dog food bags, tape the cracks in the windows, block the front doors with ice machines. Refusing to listen to David, Norton heads outside with a small group to seek help, with the biker following suit with rope tied around his waist. However, Norton's group are attacked and killed by an unseen creature and the survivors are only able to pull back the severed lower half of the biker.
That night, enormous flying insects with scorpion-like tails tipped with venomous stingers land on and attach themselves to the windows. Moments pterodactyl-like animals preying on the insects ram their beaks into the glass breaking through the windows and allowing the creatures to enter the supermarket, they begin to attack the terrified people inside and kill two people while another man, Joe, is burned while incinerating the creatures and dies. One of the insects lands on Mrs. Carmody but doesn't sting her because she keeps still during her prayer; as a result, she begins preaching more fervently and gains followers among the distraught survivors. In order to retrieve medical supplies and look for more survivors, Dan, Private Jessup, Joe's brother Bobby, elderly-yet-tough schoolteacher Irene, mechanic Jim, assistant manager Ollie Weeks and patron Mike Hatlen venture out to the neighboring pharmacy, which unbeknownst to them has been transformed into a nest of spider-like creatures that shoot corrosive webbing and have massacred the pharmacy patrons.
Among the mass of bodies is the MP, who falls from his web and dies with spiders bursting out of his back. The group is attacked and Mike and Bobby are killed by the spiders, forcing the group to retreat. Following this, Mrs. Carmody recruits most everyone in the market on her side; that night, two of the soldiers and Morales, commit suicide. Jessup reveals that the local military base was filled with rumours about the Arrowhead Project, the government's attempt to look into other dimensions, that the scientists responsible for the experiment may have inadvertently opened a doorway into a dimension containing the creatures that are now invading the town. An angry mob ensues, led by Mrs. Carmody, who orders her followers to blame him; as a result, he is beaten and ejected from the store as a human sacrifice falling prey to a large praying mantis-like creature. The following morning and his group secretly gather supplies to flee, but are stopped by Mrs. Carmody, who has now turned the entire store against them.
After stealing the supplies, she demands that Billy and schoolteacher Amanda be the next sacrifice, only for Ollie to shoot and kill her with Amanda's gun as the cult advances. Traumatized at her death and returning to their senses, Mrs. Carmody's followers realize all t
Dark Country is a 2009 American psychological mystery thriller film directed by and starring Thomas Jane in his directorial debut. It stars Lauren German and Ron Perlman. Newly weds Dick and Gina decide to head across the Nevada desert for their honeymoon, driving at night to beat the heat. Before they head off, a stranger warns Dick to be careful, as couples have been known to get lost, to stick to the Interstate. Shortly afterward, the couple realize they are heading the wrong way and turn off the highway onto another road. Dick turns off the car headlights to drive by starlight and Gina masturbates herself to orgasm as they head across the desert. Dick turns the lights back on swerving to avoid a figure in the middle of the road. Investigating, they find a man injured from a car accident. Unable to get a phone signal, they decide to drive him to a hospital themselves, only for the road to come to a sudden end a few miles ahead. During the drive, the couple argue and the injured man awakens with a scream.
He asks Gina for a cigarette, advises her to leave her husband and becomes erratic attempting to strangle Dick and causing the car to crash. Gina stops the car and the two men tumble out, continuing to fight until Dick beats the stranger to death with a rock. Dick convinces his wife they need to dispose of the body, together they bury it in a shallow grave. While she fills the hole, Dick finds a revolver in her handbag. Soon after, they arrive at a rest area, they tidy themselves up and argue until Dick discovers he lost his watch while they were burying the stranger. Refusing to go back, Gina waits at the rest stop with the gun. Arriving at the site where they hid the body, Dick finds the grave empty. Gunshots ring out across the desert and Dick races back to the rest stop to find Gina is missing. Nearby, he stumbles onto a woman's grave and realizes that the other cars are rusted and covered with dust. In a panic, he flees colliding head-on with a deputy sheriff. In the back of the police car, he rides with the deputy to a crime scene, where police are excavating murder victims from a mass grave surrounded by abandoned vehicles.
The deputy explains. Dick recognizes the spot as the location; as he watches on from the back of the police car, a deputy exhumes Gina's body and finds Dick's watch. Dick kicks his way out of the patrol car and escapes in one of the nearby vehicles, leading the squad of police in a chase across the desert. Driving with the lights off, he loses them, but a short while he finds a swarm of insects, losing control and rolling the car. Thrown clear of the wreck, he is almost run down by another car before he passes out; some time Dick wakes to find himself in the back of his own car, listening to himself and Gina argue, realizes that he was the mysterious stranger that he fought with and murdered earlier in the evening, screaming at this. Thomas Jane as Dick / Bloodyface Lauren German as Gina Ron Perlman as Deputy Thompson Con Schell as Bloodyface Double Chris Browning as Stranger Rene P. Mousseux as Crime Scene Trooper The idea for making Dark Country came after Jane had read the short story by the film's writer Tab Murphy.
After working for a year on the story and Murphy brought it to Lionsgate, who purchased the script. Upon learning Jane's intention to shoot the film 3D, Lionsgate backed out of the deal and allowed Jane and Murphy to take the script to Sony Pictures, whose home video division were looking for content for their new line of 3D televisions that were soon to be released; the inspiration Jane had cited for making the film came from his admiration for the horror films of old and film noir, in addition to The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and old issues of EC Comics comic books. "I wanted to make a movie, for people who enjoy movies that are off the beaten track, you know?" said Jane. "I wanted to make a movie for fans of cult films, for fans of "The Twilight Zone", for guys who stayed up late to watch "The Outer Limits" when they were too young to do that." Before filming began, together with his storyboard artist, story boarded every shot, approaching the film like they were doing a live-action graphic novel.
Wanting to have as many graphic novel elements Jane brought on-board comic artist Tim Bradstreet to work as the visual consultant and production designer in addition to Berni Wrightson, who provided the designs for the character Bloodyface, Ray Zone as the 3D supervisor. Jane chose to do the film in 3D as a way to prove to the filmmaking community that you could create a low-budget film in 3D and have it turn out looking great; the 25-day shoot took place in New Mexico. The film was shot in both 3-D high definition and 2-D high-def, with the intention of a limited theatrical run in 3D; the 3D for Dark Country was done using two Silicon Imaging HD heads capturing at 2K resolution, the cameras were built by Hector Ortega and Stephen Pizzo of Element Technica, supervised by Geoff Boyle, Max Penner, Tim Thomas and Paradise FX in California. The small size of the cameras allowed for more fluid camera movements compared to the cameras used to shoot 3D films. For the filming of scenes in 3D, Jane wished for the effect to be impactful.
To help in that, Jane devised a color-coded system for his cameraman to know how he wanted the 3D to be visually in any particular scenes. If I wanted the 3D to be popping-off the screen in a particular shot – I had a color code for that. If the 3D was to be deep in the background so that you get a real sense of depth, anothe
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations; the term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander"; the ancestors of modern Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. A vast variety of peoples and cultures subsequently developed. Native Americans were affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, their population declined precipitously due to introduced diseases as well as warfare, territorial confiscation and slavery.
After the founding of the United States, many Native American peoples were subjected to warfare and one-sided treaties, they continued to suffer from discriminatory government policies into the 20th century. Since the 1960s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in changes to the lives of Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by Native Americans. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States, 78% of whom live outside reservations; when the United States was created, established Native American tribes were considered semi-independent nations, as they lived in communities separate from British settlers. The federal government signed treaties at a government-to-government level until the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 ended recognition of independent native nations, started treating them as "domestic dependent nations" subject to federal law; this law did preserve the rights and privileges agreed to under the treaties, including a large degree of tribal sovereignty.
For this reason, many Native American reservations are still independent of state law and actions of tribal citizens on these reservations are subject only to tribal courts and federal law. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted U. S. citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States. This emptied the "Indians not taxed" category established by the United States Constitution, allowed natives to vote in state and federal elections, extended the Fourteenth Amendment protections granted to people "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. However, some states continued to deny Native Americans voting rights for several decades. Bill of Rights protections do not apply to tribal governments, except for those mandated by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. Since the end of the 15th century, the migration of Europeans to the Americas has led to centuries of population and agricultural transfer and adjustment between Old and New World societies, a process known as the Columbian exchange.
As most Native American groups had preserved their histories by oral traditions and artwork, the first written sources of the conflict were written by Europeans. Ethnographers classify the indigenous peoples of North America into ten geographical regions with shared cultural traits, called cultural areas; some scholars combine the Plateau and Great Basin regions into the Intermontane West, some separate Prairie peoples from Great Plains peoples, while some separate Great Lakes tribes from the Northeastern Woodlands. The ten cultural areas are as follows: Arctic, including Aleut and Yupik peoples Subarctic Northeastern Woodlands Southeastern Woodlands Great Plains Great Basin Northwest Plateau Northwest Coast California Southwest At the time of the first contact, the indigenous cultures were quite different from those of the proto-industrial and Christian immigrants; some Northeastern and Southwestern cultures, in particular, were matrilineal and operated on a more collective basis than that with which Europeans were familiar.
The majority of Indigenous American tribes maintained their hunting grounds and agricultural lands for use of the entire tribe. Europeans at that time had patriarchal cultures and had developed concepts of individual property rights with respect to land that were different; the differences in cultures between the established Native Americans and immigrant Europeans, as well as shifting alliances among different nations in times of war, caused extensive political tension, ethnic violence, social disruption. Before the European settlement of what is now the United States, Native Americans suffered high fatalities from contact with new European diseases, to which they had not yet acquired immunity. Smallpox epidemics are thought to have caused the greatest loss of life for indigenous populations. William M Denevan, noted author and Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said on this subject in his essay "The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492".
Old World diseases were the primary killer. In many regions the tropical lowlands, populations fell by 90 percent or more in the first century after the contact. "Estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the U. S. vary ranging from William M Denevan's 3.8 million in his 1992 w
South Africa the Republic of South Africa, is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation, it is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status; the remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European and multiracial ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures and religions, its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, the fourth highest number in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white South Africans.
The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, regular elections have been held for a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country's recent history and politics; the National Party imposed apartheid in 1948. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, the repeal of discriminatory laws began in 1990. Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have held political representation in the country's liberal democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is referred to as the "rainbow nation" to describe the country's multicultural diversity in the wake of apartheid; the World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, a newly industrialised country.
Its economy is the second-largest in Africa, the 34th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa; however and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, maintains significant regional influence; the name "South Africa" is derived from the country's geographic location at the southern tip of Africa. Upon formation, the country was named the Union of South Africa in English, reflecting its origin from the unification of four separate British colonies. Since 1961, the long form name in English has been the "Republic of South Africa". In Dutch, the country was named Republiek van Zuid-Afrika, replaced in 1983 by the Afrikaans Republiek van Suid-Afrika. Since 1994, the Republic has had an official name in each of its 11 official languages. Mzansi, derived from the Xhosa noun umzantsi meaning "south", is a colloquial name for South Africa, while some Pan-Africanist political parties prefer the term "Azania".
South Africa contains human-fossil sites in the world. Archaeologists have recovered extensive fossil remains from a series of caves in Gauteng Province; the area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been branded "the Cradle of Humankind". The sites include one of the richest sites for hominin fossils in the world. Other sites include Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. Raymond Dart identified the first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child in 1924. Further hominin remains have come from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo Province and Florisbad in the Free State Province, Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal Province, Klasies River Mouth in Eastern Cape Province and Pinnacle Point and Die Kelders Cave in Western Cape Province; these finds suggest that various hominid species existed in South Africa from about three million years ago, starting with Australopithecus africanus. There followed species including Australopithecus sediba, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo helmei, Homo naledi and modern humans.
Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for at least 170,000 years. Various researchers have located pebble tools within the Vaal River valley. Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were present south of the Limpopo River by the 4th or 5th century CE, they displaced and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu moved south; the earliest ironworks in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhosa people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people; the Xhosa reached the Great Fish River, in today's Eastern Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age populations