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Boers, a nationality in South Africa. In the main, they are descendants of 17th-century Dutch settlers; their origins can also be traced to French and German colonists. They live primarily in provinces of the Republic of South Africa—Transvaal, the Cape, and the Orange Free State—and also in Namibia and Southern Rhodesia. They total about 2.5 million (1965); their language is Afrikaans.
Most Afrikaners belong to the Dutch Reformed Church. They reside on individual farms and engage mainly in farming and raising livestock. Since the early 20th century a process of material and social stratification has intensified among the Afrikaners. Large farmers have plantations with dozens and hundreds of African laborers. Strict patriarchal Puritan traditions have been maintained in the families of the farmers. An Afrikaner industrial and commercial bourgeoisie has been forming in the cities. The reactionary Nationalist Party, which holds power in the Republic of South Africa at the present time, finds its chief support in the Afrikaner bourgeoisie of the city and countryside. It carries out a policy of racial discrimination and segregation with respect to Africans, Indians, and those of mixed ancestry.