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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 formerly 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 ". 
At the time of European contact, the dominant ethnic group were Bantu-speaking peoples who had migrated from other parts of Africa about one thousand years before. The two major historic groups were the Xhosa and Zulu peoples.