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South African Border War facts for kids

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South African Border War
Cuito Cuanavale Montage.jpg
Clockwise from top left: FAPLA MiG-21bis on an airstrip; FAPLA or Cuban T-62 tank captured by the SADF; 1981 protests against SADF aggression in Angola; Soviet advisor with FAPLA subordinates; G6 howitzers just prior to their deployment to Cuito Cuanavale; South African expeditionary troops in the operational area
Date 26 August 1966 – 21 March 1990
(23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Location Southern Africa – Namibia and Angola
Result Three Powers Accord
  • Withdrawal of all foreign forces from Angola by New York Accords signed on 22 December 1988.
  • Independence of a democratic Namibia on 21 March 1990 following elections.
  • Continued civil war in Angola.
 South Africa
Portugal Portugal
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (bandeira).svg MPLA
Flag of UNITA.svg UNITA
Bandeira da FNLA.svg FNLA
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg SWAPO
 South Africa
Flag of UNITA.svg UNITA
Bandeira da FNLA.svg FNLA
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (bandeira).svg MPLA
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg SWAPO
African National Congress Flag.svg MK
Casualties and losses
South Africa 1,804 dead
Portugal 2,989 killed
Flag of UNITA.svg 7,421 dead
Bandeira da FNLA.svg ??
Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (bandeira).svg ??
Cuba 2,289–5,000 dead (whole Angolan civil war figure)
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg 11,335 dead

The South African Border War usually refers to the conflict that took place from 1966 to 1990 in South-West Africa (now Namibia) and Angola between South Africa and its allied forces on the one side and the Angolan government, the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) and their allied forces on the other.

The roots of the conflict can be traced back to World War I, when South Africa invaded and conquered the then German South-West Africa on behalf of the Allied Forces. In the aftermath of the war, the League of Nations gave South Africa a mandate to administer the territory.

After World War II, South Africa refused to surrender its mandate for replacement by a United Nations Trusteeship agreement requiring closer international monitoring of the territory's administration. Although the South African government wanted to incorporate South-West Africa into its territory, it never officially did so, although it was administered as the de-facto fifth province, with the white minority having representation in the (whites-only) Parliament of South Africa.

In the wake of the South Africa government's refusal and the implementation of its apartheid policies in South-West Africa (SWA), SWAPO became increasingly militant and in 1962 its military wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), was formed.

In the mid-1960s, a number of SWAPO bases had been established in the neighbouring country of Zambia and its insurgents began infiltrating SWA. The first such incursion took place in September 1965 and the second in March 1966, but it was only on 26 August 1966 that the first major clash of the conlict took place, when a unit of the South African Police (SAP) - supported by South African Air Force helicopters - exchanged fire with SWAPO forces. This date is generally regarded as the start of what became known in South Africa as the "Border War".

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