Bantustan refers to any of the territories designated as tribal "homelands" for black South Africans during the Apartheid era.


These homelands were allocated to blacks by the white Apartheid government of the Republic of South Africa and were designated to become independent states under a plan called "Separate Development". This plan would have given independence to blacks in these newly created tribal states, while stripping them of their South African citizenship, leaving whites as the majority in South Africa. Originally, there were to be about ten Bantustan-Homelands. These small, quasi-sovereign regions were established under the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act. Their status was formalized in 1959 by the Promotion of Black Self-Government Act, and the process was completed by the National States Citizenship Act of 1970, which forcibly made blacks citizens of Bantustans and cancelled their South African citizenship. The Bantustans began to be given "independence" in 1976.
The founders and implementers of the Apartheid doctrine pushed the idea of Bantustans vigorously, but they never gained the recognition of the international community, and were mostly despised by South Africa's blacks. The boundaries of the Bantustans were drawn to exclude economically valuable land. Few employment opportunities were available in the Bantustans. The white government had exempted 13% of its territory from white settlement, and transformed this fraction into regions of black home-rule. Then they tried to bestow independence on these regions, claiming that the other 87% was white territory. The black South Africans were divided into ethnic groups which were assigned certain homelands.
The first Bantustan that became operational was the Transkei for the Xhosa nation. Perhaps the best known one was KwaZulu for the Zulu nation. Another well known Bantustan was Bophuthatswana of the Tswana people. In all there were ten Bantustans. Four of them were nominally independent (Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda). The other six had certain forms of self-government. These were: Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, KwaZulu, Lebowa and QwaQwa. A total of around 12 million people lived in the Bantustans. The ultimate intention of the Apartheid governments was that all blacks should be moved to Bantustans with no permanent black residents after the plan was fully implemented. In practice, though, millions of Bantustan citizens worked in South Africa due to the lack of economic opportunities in the Bantustans.

Several Bantustans' stamps:

 

With the demise of the Apartheid regime in South Africa the Bantustans were dismantled as the country was constitutionally redivided into new provincial governments.