Soweto [acronym for south-west townships], city, now part of City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality, Gauteng prov., NE South Africa. Located 10 mi (16 km) SW of Johannesburg, Soweto grew as black workers came to the industrialized area after World War I; the name for the city was collective term for what was originally a group of segregated townships inhabited by blacks. In 1976, Soweto was the scene of a massive uprising that began as a student protest against the government's use of Afrikaans in black schools. The rebellion soon became a violent expression of outrage at blacks' inferior position under the South African policies of apartheid; it spread to other cities and more than 600 were killed as the revolt was put down. Needed improvements in infrastructure, electrification, and living standards have been made since the 1980s.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South African Political Geography