2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Countries; Countries

Republic of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe Coat of arms of Zimbabwe
Flag Coat of arms
"Unity, Freedom, Work"
Simudzai Mureza Wedu weZimbabwe  ( Shona)
Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe  ( Ndebele)
"Blessed be the land of Zimbabwe"
Location of Zimbabwe
(and largest city)
17°50′S, 31°3′E
Official languages 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 13,010,0001 ( 68th)
 -  Density 33 /km² ( 170th)
85 /sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 -  Total $30.581 billion ( 94th)
 -  Per capita $2,607 ( 129th)
HDI (2005) 0.491 (low) ( 151st)
Currency Dollar ( ZWD)
Time zone CAT ( UTC+2)
 -  Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC+2)
Internet TLD .zw
Calling code +263
1 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. 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 started encroaching on the area.

Rhodesian era

In 1888, British imperialist Cecil Rhodes extracted mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele. The following year, he 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, labour, 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. Both the Ndebele and Shona became subject to the Rhodes administration. This was the beginning of a larger settlement of white settlers, that also led to the land distribution favouring whites and displacing both the Shona and Ndebele and other black people. The land issue in Zimbabwe remains a controversial issue to this day.

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 (now Malawi) in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but this dissolved in 1963. The same year, Ian Smith's regime declared Unilateral Independence from Britain and Southern Rhodesia was renamed to Rhodesia.

White minority rule and civil war

Cold War politics served as a menacing backdrop for Portuguese and British decolonisation in Southern Africa. After African-majority governments assumed control in neighbouring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, and after realising that Britain was not prepared to offer special conditions to Southern Rhodesia, which had been a self-governing colony since 1922, the white-minority government led by Ian Smith declared unilateral independence on 11 November 1965.

When negotiations with the Ian Smith administration in 1966 and 1968 stalemated, the UK requested UN economic sanctions against Rhodesia. Faced with no alternative, 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 apartheid South Africa. The newly independent neighbouring African nations of Zambia and Malawi meanwhile, declared themselves to be one-party states. During this time, the Soviet bloc intensified its efforts to gain a foothold in Africa, with troops drafted in from Cuba, Yugoslavia and the USSR, openly funding lawless guerrilla warfare in Africa. Large shipments of landmines and weaponry were handed over to groups which have been criticised by some as being "untrained groups of poorly educated youths led by power-hungry political activists".

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

Muzorewa, who had the support not only of the Smith regime 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 re-election ever since.

During the first decade of independence Robert Mugabe used the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade to silence any opposition from the Ndebele nation in an operation referred to as Gukurahundi. The killing was done on the pretext of dissidents existing within the Zimbabwean armed forces. An estimated 20 000 civilians, mostly Ndebele, were killed or disappeared and have not been accounted for to this date. Allegations of genocide and ethnic cleansing have resulted in calls for Mugabe's arrest and prosecution for crimes against humanity.

Land issues, which the liberation movement promised to solve, re-emerged as the vital issue for the ruling party beginning in 1999. Despite majority-rule, and the existence of a "willing buyer-willing seller" land reform programme since the 1980s, ZANU (PF) claimed that whites made up less than 1% of the population but held 70% of the country's commercially viable arable land (though these figures are disputed by many outside of the Government of Zimbabwe). Mugabe began to redistribute land to blacks in 2000 with a compulsory land redistribution; charges that the programme as a whole is designed to reward loyal deputies have persisted in Zimbabwe since the beginning of the process. Despite claims by both the opposition and the government that land reform of one kind or another must take place, the Mugabe lead process has been seen as a diversion away from an ill conceived war in the DRC and economic maladministration. The legality and constitutionality of the process has regularly been challenged in the Zimbabwean High and Supreme Courts, however the policing agencies have rarely acted in accordance with courts' rulings on these matters. The chaotic implementation of the land reform lead to a sharp decline in agricultural exports, traditionally the country's leading export producing sector. Mining and tourism have surpassed agriculture. 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.

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.

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.


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 party leader 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. 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.

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 Arthur 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. However, the opposition parties have resumed participation in national and local elections as recently as 2006. 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. As of 2007, 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 neighbouring 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 a large number of the population of Zimbabwe resides.

The 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections were held on March 31 and multiple claims of vote rigging, election fraud and intimidation were made by the MDC and Jonathan Moyo, calling for investigations into 32 of the 120 constituencies. Despite the allegations Jonathan Moyo participated in the elections and won a seat, enabling him to serve as an independent member of Parliament.


Zimbabwe had a literacy rate of 95.2% in 2000, the highest in Africa, although that had slipped to an estimated 90.7% in 2003. 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. 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%.,,.


  • University of Zimbabwe, the first, largest and most complete
  • National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe (NUST), the second state university
  • Africa University, in Mutare
  • Midlands State University
  • Bindura University of Science Education
  • Chinhoyi University of Technology
  • Masvingo State University
  • Catholic University in Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe Open University
  • Women's University in Africa
  • Solusi University
  • Lupane State University
  • University Without Walls
  • Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ)

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 require one year of residence to be fully-licensed doctors in the USA

Administrative divisions

Administrative divisions of Zimbabwe
Administrative divisions 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:

  • Bulawayo (city)
  • Harare (city)
  • Manicaland
  • Mashonaland Central
  • Mashonaland East
  • Mashonaland West
  • Masvingo
  • Matabeleland North
  • Matabeleland South
  • Midlands

Districts: see Districts of Zimbabwe

Municipalities: see Municipalities 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. Inyangani is the highest mountain in Zimbabwe at 2,592 meters. The north-western 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 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. Zimbabwe's involvement from 1998 to 2002 in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy.

Mineral exports, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the biggest trading partner of South Africa south of the equator. Since land redistribution began, agricultural exports, especially tobacco, have declined sharply.

The downward spiral of the economy has been attributed mainly to mismanagement, corruption and Zimbabwe's inability to feed itself after evicting more than 4000 white farmers in the controversial farm invasions of 2000.

According to official figures, inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to a high of 1,729.9% in February 2007, 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 10,000(000) Zimbabwean dollars per US dollar (parallel rate), in the same period.

Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached a record annual rate of some 1,730% as reported on 10 March 2007. Mugabe points to foreign governments and alleged "sabotage" as the cause of this, as well as the country's 80% unemployment rate. Critics of Mugabe's administration, however, immediately indicate the main cause of some of these issues stems from Mugabe's controversial program which sought to seize land from white commercial farmers.

Robert Mugabe has repeatedly blamed sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the EU and the USA for the state of the Zimbabwean economy. Governments that imposed the sanctions have however argued that the sanctions are only meant to target government officials and not ordinary citizens.

Demographics and ethnicity

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. An association of doctors in Zimbabwe have made calls for President Mugabe to make moves to assist the ailing health service. 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.

On 3 October 2006, Zimbabwe 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.

Ethnic groups (2005 est.)

The black ethnic groups total 98% of the population

  • Shona 80–84%. The ruling party is linked to the Shona majority ethnic group and a small Ndebele group from Joshua Khomo's ZAPU, although there is also considerable opposition support among the Shona.
  • Ndebele 8–10%. The Ndebele are descended from Zulu migrations in the nineteenth century and the other tribes with which they mixed. Support for the opposition is particularly strong both from the Ndebele and the Shona majority. Up to 1 million Ndebele may have left the country over the last five years, mainly for South Africa.
  • Bantus of other ethnicity 8–10%.
  • White Zimbabweans Less than 1%. These are mostly of British origin, but some are of Afrikaner, Portuguese or Dutch origin. The white population dropped from a peak of 275,000 in 1970 to possibly 120,000 in 1999, and was estimated at no more than 60,000 in 2006, possibly much less. Most emigration has been to the UK, South Africa, Zambia and Australia.
  • Mixed race 0.5%.
  • Asian ethnic groups (various) 0.5%. Mostly Indian and Chinese. Zimbabwe is now experiencing a surge of Asian immigrants who run business. If the trend continues, they will surpass whites as the largest non-African minority group in Zimbabwe.

Human rights

There have been widespread reports of various civil and political human rights abuses throughout Zimbabwe, in particular against opponents of the government. According to human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the government of Zimbabwe violates the rights to shelter, food, freedom of movement and residence, freedom of assembly and the protection of the law. There are assaults on the media, the political opposition, civil society activists, and human rights defenders.


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, jewelery, 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 lamellophones ubiquitous throughout Africa, is central to many ceremonial proceedings. Mwari simply means God the creator, musika vanhu. Around 1% of the population is Muslim.


English is the official language of Zimbabwe, though less than 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. Radio and Television news is now broadcast in three languages: Shona, Ndebele and English.


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 flavoured 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 (matemba). 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 (an Afrikaner form of barbecue) for the family.

For the Afrikaners, (although a small part of the white minority group, their recipes are popular), meat is especially important, though often expensive and now rare in Zimbabwe. Biltong, a type of jerky, is a popular snack, prepared by hanging bits of raw meat to dry in the sun. Boerewors ( pronounced /børəvɞɾs/ - bore-wore-vorse) is served alongside sadza. It is a long sausage, often well-spiced, composed of various meats, and barbecued.

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