The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is a 10-m class optical/IR segmented mirror telescope based on the groundbreaking, low cost, Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) design. Approval to construct and operate SALT, which will be the largest single optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, was given by the South African Government in November 1999, after sufficient guarantees of matching funding from international partners were secured. Facility construction started in January 2001, and SALT is due to start operations by December 2004. SALT will enable a quantum leap in astronomical research capability in Southern Africa, and indeed the continent, where currently the largest telescope is a modest 1.9-m, dating to the 1940s. A substantial amount of design work for SALT has been completed, sourced from multiple suppliers, with ~60% South African content. South African industry is well equipped to handle the construction of most of the telescope, the exceptions being the glass ceramic mirror blanks (from LZOS in Russia), the polishing and ion figuring of these (Eastman Kodak in the USA), and fabrication of the four-element spherical aberration corrector (SAGEM in France). This paper will present (1) the scientific requirements, (2) the specified performance of SALT, (3) the basic design, with emphasis on the innovative modifications to the HET design that enable significantly improved performance, (4) the progress and status of the project, currently in its construction phase, (5) the first generation instrument suite, (6) the management and organisation of the project and (7) the international partnership in SALT.