For other meanings see Zimbabwe (disambiguation).
Republic of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe Coat of Arms of Zimbabwe
Flag Coat of Arms
Motto: Unity, Freedom, Work
Anthem: Simudzai Mureza Wedu weZimbabwe (Shona) or Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe (Ndebele) ("Blessed be the land of Zimbabwe")
Location of Zimbabwe
Capital Harare
Largest city Harare
Official language English
Government Republic
 - President Robert Mugabe
 - Rhodesia November 11, 1965 
 - Zimbabwe April 18, 1980 
 - Total 390,757 km² (60th)
150,871 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1
 - July 2005 estimate 13,010,000* (68th)
 - Density 33/km² (170th)
85/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $30.581 billion (94th)
 - Per capita $2,607 (129th)
HDI  (2003) 0.505 (medium) (145th)
Currency Dollar (ZWD)
Time zone CAT (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .zw
Calling code +263
* Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS.

Zimbabwe (IPA: [zɪmˈbɑbwe]), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, and formerly Republic of Rhodesia, is a landlocked country in the southern part of the continent of Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It borders South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east. The name Zimbabwe derives from "dzimba dzemabwe" meaning "houses of stone" in the Shona language.[1] Its use as the country's name is a tribute to Great Zimbabwe, site of the capital of the Munhumutapa Empire.





Precolonial era

Iron Age Bantu-speaking peoples began migrating into the area about 2,000 years ago, including the ancestors of the Shona, who account for roughly four fifths of the country's population today. By the middle ages, there was a Bantu civilization in the region, as evidenced by ruins at Great Zimbabwe, a Shona-speaking state. Around the early 10th century, trade developed with Muslim merchants on the Indian Ocean coast, helping to develop Great Zimbabwe in the 11th century. The state traded gold, ivory, and copper for cloth and glass. It ceased to be the leading Shona state in the mid-15th century.

In 1837 the Shona were conquered by the Ndebele, who forced them to pay tribute. Later in the 19th century British and Boer traders, missionaries, and hunters stated encroaching on the area.



In 1888 British imperialist Cecil Rhodes extracted mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele. In 1889 Rhodes obtained a charter for the British South Africa Company, which conquered the Ndebele and their territory and promoted the colonization of the region's land, labor, and precious metal and mineral resources. In 1895, the territory was named "Rhodesia" after Cecil Rhodes. Both the Ndebele and the Shona staged unsuccessful revolts against the encroachment on their native lands in 1896 and 1897.

In 1911 the territory was divided into Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia, the latter becoming a self-governing British colony in 1922. In 1953 the two parts of Rhodesia were reunited together with Nyasaland in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but this dissolved in 1963. Southern Rhodesia was renamed to Rhodesia.


White minority rule and civil war

As African majority governments assumed control in neighboring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority government led by Ian Smith declared unilateral independence on November 11, 1965. The United Kingdom this an act of rebellion, but did not reestablish control by force. When negotiations in 1966 and 1968 proved fruitless, the UK requested UN economic sanctions against Rhodesia. The white-minority regime declared itself a republic in 1970. It was not recognized by the UK or any other state, other than white minority led South Africa under apartheid.

Guerrilla fighting against white minority rule intensified, and the Smith regime opened negotiations with the leaders of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by Robert Mugabe after the assassination of Herbert Chitepo in Zambia in 1975, and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo. With his regime near the brink of collapse, Smith in March 1978 signed a desperate accord with three black leaders, led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who offered safeguards for whites.

Muzorewa, who had the support not only of Smith but also of the white minority regime in South Africa, lacked credibility among significant parts of the African population, and his government soon faltered. In 1979, the British Government asked all parties to come to Lancaster House in an attempt to negotiate a settlement in the civil war.



Following the conference, held in London (1979-80), Britain's Lord Soames was appointed governor to oversee the disarming of revolutionary guerrillas, the holding of elections, and the granting of independence to an uneasy coalition government with Joshua Nkomo, head of ZAPU. In the free elections of February 1980, Mugabe and his ZANU won a landslide victory. Mugabe has won reelection ever since.

In 1982, Nkomo was ousted from his cabinet, sparking fighting between ZAPU supports in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987, resulting in ZAPU's merger (1988) into the ZANU-PF.

The drought in southern Africa, perhaps the worst of the century, affected Zimbabwe so severely that a national disaster was declared in 1992. The drought confounded the country's debt crisis.

Land redistribution reemerged as the vital issue beginning in 1999. Despite majority-rule, whites made up less than 1% of the population but held 70% of the country's commercially viable arable land. Mugabe began to redistribute land to blacks in 2000 with a compulsory land redistribution. But its chaotic implementation lead to a sharp decline in agricultural exports, traditionally the country's leading export producing sector. As a result, Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a severe hard currency shortage, which has led to hyperinflation and chronic shortages in imported fuel and consumer goods. In 2002 Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations on charges of human rights abuses during the land redistribution and of election tampering [2].

Following elections in 2005, the government initiated "Operation Murambatsvina", a supposed effort to crack down on illegal markets and homes that had seen slums unfit for human habitation emerge in towns and cities. This action has been widely condemned by opposition and international figures, who charge that it has left a large section of the urban poor homeless. The Zimbabwe government has described the operation as an attempt to provide decent housing to the population although they have yet to deliver any new housing for the forcefully removed people. [3]

Zimbabwe's current economic and food crisis, described by some observers as the country's worst humanitarian crisis since independence, has been attributed, in varying degrees, to a drought affecting the entire region, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the government's price controls and land reforms.[4]



Zimbabwe is a republic, with an executive president and a bicameral Parliament. Under constitutional changes in 2005, an upper chamber, the Senate, was reinstated. The House of Assembly is the lower chamber of Parliament.

Zanu PF Robert Mugabe, elected Prime Minister in 1980, revised the constitution in 1987 to make himself President. President Mugabe's affiliated party has won every election since independence on April 18 1980. In some quarters corruption and rigging of elections have been alleged. In particular, the elections of 1990 were nationally and internationally condemned as being rigged, with the second-placed party, Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement, winning only 20% of the vote. Presidential elections were last held in 2002 amid allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation, and fraud. [5] The next Presidential elections are to be held in 2008, although Mugabe is currently trying to amend the constitution in an attempt to stay in power until 2010 [6].

The major opposition party at the moment is the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC is currently split into two factions. One faction, led by Professor Mutambara is contesting the elections to the Senate, while the other led by Morgan Tsvangirai is opposed to contesting the elections, stating that participation in a rigged election is tantamount to endorsing Mugabe's claim that elections in Zimbabwe are completely free and fair. The two MDC camps had their congresses in 2005 with Morgan Tsvangirai being elected to lead the main splinter group which has become more popular than the other group. Professor Arthur G.O Mutambara a Robotics Professor and former NASA robotics specialist has replaced Welshman Ncube who was the interim leader after the split. Morgan Tsvangirai did not participate in the Senate elections, while the Mutambara faction participated and won some seats in the senate. The Mutambara faction has however been weakened by defections from MPs and individuals who are disillusioned by their manifesto. To date the Tsvangirai led MDC has become the most popular with crowds as large as 20,000 attending their rallies as compared to between 500–5,000 for the other splinter group. There is wide disagreement in Zimbabwe and neigboring states as to whether a divided MDC can win presidential elections against a disciplined ruling party. The opposition continues to be weak in rural areas, where 70% of the population of Zimbabwe resides.

The 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections were held on March 31. While the African Union reported no major irregularities, opposition figures such as Archbishop Pius Ncube have made charges of vote rigging. [7]



Zimbabwe had a literacy rate of 95.2% in 2000, the highest in Africa. Zimbabweans generally value and pursue academic achievement, for example, Robert Mugabe, the president, has four non-honorary degrees and the cabinet has several graduates at PhD level or higher. For males, the country's adult literacy rate (the percentage of persons aged 15 and over who can read and write) is 97%. Comparison with other SADC countries in 2004 is as follows: South Africa, 86%, Zambia, 79.9%, Swaziland, 80.9%, Namibia, 83.3%, Lesotho, 81.4%, Botswana, 78.9%, Tanzania, 77.1%, Malawi, 61.8%, Mozambique, 46.5%. [8] [9] [10].



The highest professional board for accountants is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe, (ICAZ) with direct relationships with similar bodies in South Africa, Canada, UK and Australia meaning if you are a qualified Chartered Accountant from Zimbabwe, you are also a member of similar bodies in these countries after writing a conversion paper which is normally easier than the normal qualifying examination papers. In addition, Zimbabwean trained Doctors only reguire one year of residence to be fully licensed doctors in the USA


Administrative divisions

Administrative divisions of Zimbabwe.
Administrative divisions of Zimbabwe.

Main article: Provinces of Zimbabwe, Districts of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces and two cities with provincial status. The provinces are subdivided into 59 districts and 1,200 municipalities.

The provinces include:

Districts: see Districts of Zimbabwe

Municipalities: see Municipalities of Zimbabwe



Main article: Geography of Zimbabwe

Satellite image of Zimbabwe, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Zimbabwe, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Bridal Veil Falls, Eastern Highlands
Bridal Veil Falls, Eastern Highlands

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, surrounded by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east and northeast. The northwestern border is defined by the Zambezi River. Victoria Falls is a popular tourist destination on the Zambezi. To the south, Zimbabwe is separated from South Africa by the Limpopo River. Zimbabwe also shares a narrow border with Namibia to the west via a narrow land corridor.



The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems after having abandoned earlier efforts in developing a market-oriented economy. Current problems include a shortage of foreign exchange, soaring inflation, and supply shortages. Its 1998–2002 involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. The downward spiral of the economy has been attributed mainly to mismanagement, corruption and Zimbabwe's inability to feed itself after evicting more than 3500 farmers in the controversial farm invasions of 2000. [11] Robert Mugabe has repeatedly blamed economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the UK and the USA [12]. He has also blamed these countries for a shortage of foreign currency.

According to official figures, inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to a high of 1281.1% in December 2006, a state of hyperinflation. The exchange rate fell from 24 Zimbabwean dollars per US dollar to 250(000) Zimbabwean dollars per US Dollar (official rate) and 3,000(000) Zimbabwean dollars per US Dollar (parallel rate), in the same period.

As of January 10, 2007, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe surpassed 1281%, according to the BBC.


Demographics & Ethnicity

Main article: Demographics of Zimbabwe

According to the United Nations World Health Organization, the life expectancy for men is 37 years and the life expectancy for women is 34 years of age, the lowest in the world in 2006.[13] An association of doctors in Zimbabwe have made calls for President Mugabe to make moves to assist the ailing health service.[14]

Zimbabwe has a very high HIV infection rate. In 2001, it was measured at its highest level ever of 33.7% for people aged 15–49. Subsequent figures from the Zimbabwean government show an apparent decrease, down to about 20%, and these are the figures reported by UNAIDS; however, the reliability of the Mugabe government's figures on HIV is highly debatable.

Zimbabwe on 3 October 2006 launched the world's first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit, which forms the basis for a global AIDS prevention, treatment and support plan. The country was chosen to test it because of its excellence in initiating different strategies on home based care. It has managed to reduce its HIV/AIDS prevalence rate from 20.1 percent 2005 to 18.1 percent 2006. The figure was as high as 26 percent a few years ago.[15] by rocio Ethnic groups (2005 Est.):

(The black ethnic groups total 98% of the popualation.)


Main article: Culture of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has many different cultures which may include beliefs and ceremonies, one of them being Shona. The Shona people have many sculptures and carvings of gods.

Football is the most popular sport in Zimbabwe, although rugby and cricket also have a following, traditionally among the white minority.

Zimbabwe celebrates its national holiday on April 18.


Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry, and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Shona sculpture in essence has been a fusion of African folklore with European influences. Also, a recurring theme in Zimbabwean art is the metamorphosis of man into beast.


There are various forms of spiritual practice in Zimbabwe. Forty to fifty percent of Zimbabweans attend Christian churches. However like most former European colonies, Christianity is often mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Besides Christianity, Ancestral worship is the most practiced non-Christian religion which involves ancestor worship and spiritual intercession; the Mbira Dza Vadzimu, which means "Voice of the Ancestors", an instrument related to many lamellaphones ubiquitous throughout Africa, is central to many ceremonial proceedings. Mwari simply means God the creator, musika vanhu. 1% of the population is Muslim.

Abner Chauke is the current bishop of Zimbabwe's Free Methodist Church.


English is the official language of Zimbabwe, though only 2% consider it their native language, mainly the white and Coloured (mixed race) minorities. The rest of the population speak Bantu languages like Shona (76%) and Ndebele (18%). Shona has a rich oral tradition, which was incorporated into the first Shona novel, Feso by Solomon Mutswairo, published in 1957. English is spoken primarily in the cities, but less so in rural areas.


Like in many African countries, a majority of Zimbabweans depend on staple foods. Mealie meal or cornmeal as it is known in other parts of the world is used to prepare 'bota', a porridge made by mixing the cornmeal with water, to produce a thick paste. This is usually flavored with peanut butter, milk, butter, and sometimes even jam. Bota is usually eaten for breakfast. Cornmeal is also used to make sadza, which is usually eaten for dinner, and by many for lunch too. The process of making sadza is similar to bota, however after the paste has been cooking for several minutes, more cornmeal is added to thicken the paste until it is hard. This meal is usually served with greens, (spinach, collard greens) etc, beans and meat that is stewed, grilled or roasted. Sadza is also commonly eaten with curdled milk commonly known as lacto (mukaka wakakora), or a small dried fish called kapenta. On special occasions rice and chicken with cabbage salad is often served as the main meal. Graduations, weddings and any other family gatherings will usually be celebrated with the killing of a goat or cow, which will be braaied (the Africans word for a barbecue) for the family.

For the Afrikaners, a white minority group, meat is especially important, though often expensive and rare in Zimbabwe. Biltong, a type of jerky, is a popular snack. It is prepared by hanging bits of raw meat to dry in the sun. Boerewors (pronounced burr-uh-voars) is served alongside sadza. It is a long sausage, often well-spiced, composed of various meats, and barbecued. Afrikaners - possibly borrowing from the Britons' fancy for tomatoes - like to serve their sadza with a tomato and onion sauce.


List of Zimbabweans


Miscellaneous topics

Fixed land lines are operated by Tel-One, a government parastatal. There are 3 Mobile network (cell phone) providers: Econet Wireless, Net*One and Telecel.



  1. http://www.history.und.ac.za/ebe1mhm/zimbabwe.htm Zimbabwe at History Department of UKZN] www.history.und.ac.za (accessed 03 April 2006)
  2. [http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/media/2003_alerts/1208.htm Zimbabwe Suspended Indefinitely from Commonwealth (8 December 2003)] www.humanrightsfirst.org
  3. Zimbabwe: Housing policy built on foundation of failures and lies (9 August 2006) news.amnesty.org
  4. Crisis profile: Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation(26 July 2005) Reuters Foundation AlertNet
  5. Zimbabwe: Election Fraud Report (18 April 2005) www.africa.upenn.edu
  6. Mugabe could stay on until 2010 (21 January 2007) www.mg.co.za
  7. Robert Mugabe is poised to rig a general election once again (23 March 2005) www.economist.com (accessed 03 April 2006)
  8. UNICEF Statistics www.unicef.org (accessed 03 April 2006)
  9. BOTSWANA LITERACY SURVEY: 2003 www.cso.gov.bw (accessed 03 April 2006)
  10. Zimbabwe Country Assistance Evaluation (Document of the World Bank) PDF, (accessed 03 April 2006)
  11. Brazilian Economist Urges Zimbabweans to Pressure Mugabe (17 October 2006) www.zimobserver.com
  12. Mugabe says he's not to blame (21 September 2006) news.scotsman.com
  13. The World Health Organization. “Annex Table 1 - Basic indicators for all Member States”, The World Health Report 2006.
  14. Peta Thornycroft. "In Zimbabwe, life ends before 40", Sydney Morning Herald, 2006-04-10. Retrieved on 2006-04-10.
  15. Mu Xuequan. "Zimbabwe launches world's first AIDS training package", Xinhua, 2006-10-03. Retrieved on 2006-10-03.

External links






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