The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Basarwa, Kung, or Khwe. As the term Bushmen is sometimes viewed as a pejorative, some prefer to be called the San people. These people were traditionally hunter-gatherers, part of the Khoisan group and are related to the traditionally pastoral Khoikhoi. Starting in the 1950s, and lasting through the 1990s, they switched to farming as a result of government-mandated modernization programs as well as the increased risks of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the face of technological development. There is a significant linguistic difference between the northern Bushmen living between Okavango (Botswana) and Etosha (Namibia), extending into southern Angola on the one hand and the southern group in the central Kalahari towards the Molopo, who are the last remnant of the previously extensive indigenous San of South Africa.
The San have provided a wealth of information for the fields of anthropology and genetics, even as their lifestyles change. One broad study of African genetic diversity completed in 2009 found the San people were among the five populations with the highest measured levels of genetic diversity among the 121 distinct African populations sampled. The San are one of 14 known extant "ancestral population clusters" (from which all known modern humans descended).