Apartheid was a racist political policy in South Africa demanding segregation of the nation's white and non-white populations. During South African apartheid, more than three million black citizens were forced to move from their homes to segregated neighborhoods.
The law of apartheid came into being with the South African election in 1948. So it makes sense that the word's history goes back to that date, from the Afrikaans word for "separateness." It comes from the Dutch, with the "heid" part meaning "hood," for "apart-hood." The word is pronounced "apart-hate," which is also an apt description for a policy that brutally oppressed an entire people based solely on their skin color. The system was ended in 1993.