Boer (bŏr, bôr) [key] [Du., = farmer], inhabitant of South Africa of Dutch or French Huguenot descent. Boers are also known as Afrikaners. They first settled (1652) near the Cape of Good Hope in what was formerly Cape Province. After Great Britain annexed (1806) this territory, many of the Boers departed (1835–40) on the Great Trek and created republics in Natal (see KwaZulu-Natal), the Orange Free State (see Free State), and the Transvaal. Hostility between the Boers and the British resulted in the South African War (1899–1902), after which the Boer territories were annexed and the Union of South Africa formed. There has been some tension between South Africans of British descent and the Boers. South Africa withdrew (1961) from the Commonwealth of Nations and became a republic, an event that was strongly supported by Afrikaner nationalists. Afrikaans, derived from Dutch, is an official language of the republic, along with English and several indigenous African languages. Boer politicians were largely responsible for the inauguration of the policy of apartheid, which was applied to the nonwhite population of South Africa for most of the latter half of the 20th cent.
See S. Patterson, The Last Trek (1957); J. Fisher, The Afrikaners (1969).