A bust of former South African president Nelson Mandela welcomes visitors to Robben Island, where he and other anti-apartheid activists spent many years as political prisoners.
In 1991, following Nelson Mandela's release from political imprisonment, a multiracial, transitional government was formed and a new constitution was drafted, extending political rights to all groups in the country. It marked the end of a 40-year-old system of racial segregation against black people - and the beginning of an undivided South Africa.
Two decades after apartheid, the party of Mandela, the African National Congress, still holds sway in most cities and towns. Black people are no longer denied the most basic rights of citizenship. Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images
But it remains one of the world's most unequal societies, with the persistence of unofficial settlements - dubbed "kennels" by its black residents. Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images
This "economic apartheid," as some observers now call it, is most noticeable in Khayelitsha, a Xhosa word meaning "new home." The largest single township in South Africa, it was formally established more than 30 years ago when vast numbers of black people were forcefully relocated from neighbouring Cape Town.
Since the country's historic free elections of 1994, many more have moved to the township, searching for work and education in the region.
With few resources, people have erected shacks of wood, cardboard and corrugated tin, informal structures that now account for more than 50 percent of all homes here.
Today, Khayelitsha's official population is about 450,000 although the actual figure is estimated to be double that. Ninety percent of residents are black, the majority Christian.
Less than seven percent of residents are over 50 years old.
More than 40 percent of residents are under 19.
Despite welfare interventions and the creation of a central business district, many residents insist that their quality of life hasn't improved since apartheid. For one, the township's unemployment rate hovers at 75 percent, according to government statistics.
Electricity shortages are common in Khayelitsha.
Making matters worse, many homes are overcrowded.
As a result, street protests are just as frequent as power outages.
South Africa is one of a few nations that enshrines in its constitution the right to sufficient water. Still, water supply and sanitation in the country are characterized by challenges.
After the end of apartheid, about 15 million people were without safe water and more than 20 million without adequate sanitation services. Today, many still use bucket or pit toilets if not outhouses like these.
In Khayelitsha, it's customary to walk two kilometres to the nearest spigot to get water for the day's cleaning and cooking.
Lolitha Setyala, 10, drinks clean water from a spigot. But in other sections of Khayelitsha, children exposed to dirty water often complain about rashes on the backs of their hands and on parts of their faces.
Crime is also a problem in the township. In total, there are at least 50 murders and 140 sexual assaults every day in South Africa, according to the government's own Human Sciences Research Council.
To some, though, Khayelitsha is a haven, where a person may freely build a shack and spaza - a rough-hewn shop - on their own plot of ground.
Vendors' kiosks are a hodgepodge of the modern and the traditional.
In the home of artisan "Golden" Nongawuza, a former cow herder, nothing is wasted or misused.
Golden cuts, twists or melts down Coca-Cola cans and other garbage, refashioning them into daisies and sunflowers - among other things - for tourists.
Overheard in this rambling township, along the potholed lanes and thronged thoroughfares, are the cadences and clicks of the Xhosa language and the din of constant activity.
Children play inside ramshackle classrooms.
Young adults meet in weight-lifting gyms, discussing their daily happenings.
Others play music in cultural centers or wherever they can.
Siya Dumo, a 24-year-old student, sings popular rhythm and blues melodies.
Commuters return to the Site C section of Khayelitsha at dusk. Today, South Africa's laws uphold the dignity and equality of its 50-million-strong population. But as academics point out, their power is only as potent as everyone's willingness to live by them. Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images