Zimbabwe, formally the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked sovereign state in southern Africa, sandwiched between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bounded to the south by South Africa, to the west by Botswana, to the northwest by Zambia, and to the east and northeast by Mozambique. Although it does not border Namibia, the Zambezi River separates it from that nation by less than 200 metres. Harare is the capital and largest city. Zimbabwe, a country of over 13 million people, has 16 official languages, the most prevalent of which are English, Shona, and Ndebele.
Since the 11th century, modern-day Zimbabwe has been home to many organized governments and kingdoms, as well as a significant migration and commerce route. The current region was initially defined by Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company in the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. The conservative white minority administration declared unilateral independence as Rhodesia in 1965. The state experienced international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla struggle with black nationalist groups, which ended in a peace accord in April 1980 that granted universal suffrage and de jure statehood. Zimbabwe therefore rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it had previously withdrawn in 2003. It is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Eastern and Southern African Common Market (COMESA).
Robert Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister in 1980, when his ZANU-PF party won elections following the end of white minority rule; he has been the country’s President since 1987. The state security system ruled the nation and was responsible for extensive human rights violations throughout Mugabe’s dictatorial government. Mugabe has retained Cold War-era revolutionary socialist rhetoric, blaming Zimbabwe’s economic difficulties on conspiring Western capitalist countries. Contemporary African political figures have been hesitant to criticize Mugabe, despite Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s description of him as “a cartoon caricature of a typical African tyrant.”
Tourism in Zimbabwe has gradually decreased since the land reform program began in 2000. Following a rise in the 1990s (1.4 million tourists in 1999), industry statistics show a 75% drop in visitors to Zimbabwe in 2000. By December, just around 20% of hotel rooms had been filled. The Zimbabwean economy has been severely harmed as a result of this. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the tourism sector as a result of businesses shutting or simply being unable to pay employee salaries owing to dwindling visitor numbers.
Several airlines have also withdrawn from the Zimbabwean market. Qantas of Australia, Lufthansa of Germany, and Austrian Airlines were among the first to withdraw, while British Airways just stopped all direct flights to Harare. Air Zimbabwe, the country’s main airline that flew to locations throughout Africa as well as a handful in Europe and Asia, suspended operations in February 2012.
There are many significant tourist sites in Zimbabwe. The Zambezi Falls, which Zimbabwe shares with Zambia, are situated in the northwestern part of the country. Prior to the economic developments, most tourists to these destinations went to Zimbabwe, but today Zambia is the major benefactor. The Victoria Falls National Park is located in this region, and it is one of Zimbabwe’s eight major national parks, with Hwange National Park being the biggest.
The Eastern Highlands are a collection of hilly regions near the Mozambique border. Mount Nyangani, Zimbabwe’s highest peak at 2,593 meters (8,507 feet), as well as the Bvumba Mountains and the Nyanga National Park, are all situated here. The World’s View is located in these mountains, and it is from here that visitors can view locations as far away as 60–70 km (37–43 mi) and, on clear days, the town of Rusape.
In Africa, Zimbabwe is unique in that it has a number of old ruined towns constructed in a distinct dry stone architecture. The Great Zimbabwe ruins at Masvingo are the most well-known. Khami Remains, Zimbabwe, Dhlo-Dhlo, and Naletale are among the other ruins, but none are as well-known as Great Zimbabwe.
The Matobo Hills are a series of granite kopjes and forested valleys in southern Zimbabwe that begin 22 miles (35 km) south of Bulawayo. Granite was pushed to the surface over 2,000 million years ago, then eroded to create smooth “whaleback dwalas” and fractured kopjes, littered with boulders and mixed with thickets of flora. The region was given its name by Mzilikazi, the founder of the Ndebele people, which means ‘Bald Heads.’ Because of their old forms and local fauna, they have become well-known and a tourist destination. At a location known as World’s View, Cecil Rhodes and other early white pioneers such as Leander Starr Jameson are buried.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked nation in southern Africa, located between 15° and 23° south latitude and 25° and 34° east longitude. The majority of the nation is elevated, with a central plateau (high veld) extending from the southwest to the north at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 1,600 meters. The Eastern Highlands, in the country’s far east, are mountainous, with Mount Nyangani, at 2,592 meters, being its highest peak.
These highlands are known for their natural beauty, including popular tourist sites like as Nyanga, Troutbeck, Chimanimani, Vumba, and Mount Selinda’s Chirinda Forest. Low-lying regions (the low veld) beneath 900m make up around 20% of the nation. Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest and most beautiful waterfalls, is part of the Zambezi River and is situated in the country’s far northwest.
The climate of Zimbabwe is tropical, with numerous regional differences. The southern regions are renowned for their aridity and heat, while parts of the central plateau get frost in the winter, the Zambezi river is known for its severe heat, and the Eastern Highlands are known for their moderate temperatures and the country’s greatest rainfall. The rainy season in the nation lasts from late October to early March, and the hot temperature is tempered by rising altitude. Droughts have been recurrent in Zimbabwe, with the most recent one beginning in early 2015 and continuing into 2016. Storms of this magnitude are uncommon.
Flora and fauna
Although the wet and steep eastern highlands sustain pockets of tropical evergreen and hardwood forests, the nation is mainly savannah. Teak, mahogany, huge examples of strangling fig, forest newtonia, big leaf, white stinkwood, chirinda stinkwood, knobthorn, and many more trees may be found in the Eastern Highlands.
Fever trees, mopane, combretum, and baobabs flourish in the low-lying areas of the nation. Miombo forest, dominated by brachystegia species and others, covers most of the nation. Hibiscus, flame lily, snake lily, spider lily, leonotus, cassia, tree wisteria, and dombeya are among the many blooms and plants. Zimbabwe is home to about 350 different animal species. There are also many snakes and reptiles, as well as more than 500 bird species and 131 fish species.
Large swaths of Zimbabwe were originally covered in dense woods, teeming with animals. The quantity of animals has decreased due to deforestation and hunting. Woodland degradation and deforestation are significant problems owing to population increase, urban expansion, and a shortage of fuel, and have resulted in erosion and land degradation, reducing the quantity of rich soil available. Environmentalists have also chastised local farmers for burning foliage to heat their tobacco barns.
Zimbabwe’s natural woods is projected to vanish by 2065 if present deforestation rates continue.
Zimbabwe has a population of 12.97 million people. According to the United Nations World Health Organization, males have a life expectancy of 56 years and women have a life expectancy of 60 years (2012). President Robert Mugabe has been urged by a group of physicians in Zimbabwe to take steps to help the country’s poor health system. In 2009, Zimbabwe’s HIV infection rate among individuals aged 15 to 49 was estimated to be 14%. According to UNESCO, HIV prevalence among pregnant women has decreased from 26% in 2002 to 21% in 2004.
In Zimbabwe, 85 percent of the population is Christian, and 62 percent of the population regularly attends religious services. Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and Methodist churches are the biggest Christian denominations.
Christianity, like in other African nations, may coexist alongside surviving indigenous beliefs. Aside from Christianity, ancestor worship is the most widely practiced non-Christian religion, including spiritual intercession; the Mbira Dza Vadzimu, which means “Voice of the Ancestors” and is a lamellophone-like instrument found all across Africa, is essential to many ceremonial procedures. Mwari simply means “Creator God” (musika vanhu in Shona). Muslims make up around 1% of the population.
98 percent of the population is made up of Bantu-speaking ethnic groupings. The Shona, who make up 70% of the population, are the majority. With 20% of the population, the Ndebele are the second most numerous.
The Ndebele are descendants of 19th-century Zulu migrations and other tribes with whom they intermarried. Over the past five years, up to one million Ndebele may have fled the nation, mostly to South Africa. Venda, Tonga, Shangaan, Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau, Nambya, Tswana, Xhosa, and Lozi are the third biggest Bantu ethnic groups, accounting for 2 to 5% of the population.
White Zimbabweans are one of the minority ethnic groupings, accounting for less than 1% of the overall population. The majority of white Zimbabweans are of British descent, although there are also groups of Afrikaners, Greeks, Portuguese, French, and Dutch descent. The white population fell from a high of approximately 278,000 people, or 4.3 percent of the population, in 1975 to perhaps 120,000 in 1999, and was believed to be no more than 50,000 people in 2002, if not considerably less. The entire white population was 28,782 in 2012 (approximately 0.22 percent of the population), one-tenth of the projected size in 1975. The United Kingdom (between 200,000 and 500,000 Britons are of Rhodesian or Zimbabwean ancestry), South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have been the most popular destinations. Coloured people account for 0.5 percent of the population, as do other Asian ethnic groups, mainly of Indian and Chinese ancestry.
According to the 2012 Census, 99.7% of the population is of African descent. Over the past decade, official fertility rates have been 3.6 (2002 Census), 3.8 (2006), and 3.8 (2008). (2012 Census).
Approximately 80% of the country’s population considers themselves to be Christians. Around 63 percent of the people are Protestants (mainly Pentecostal African Churches). According to 2005 estimates, Zimbabwe has 1,145,000 Roman Catholics. This equates to approximately 9% of the overall population. Ethnic faiths are followed by around 11% of the population. Muslims make up around 1% of the population, mostly from Mozambique and Malawi, Hindus make up 0.1 percent, and Baha’is make up 0.3 percent. Approximately 7% of the population is either religiously unaffiliated or atheist.
Zimbabwe’s major sources of foreign currency include mineral exports, gold, agriculture, and tourism.
Anglo American plc and Impala Platinum mine some of the world’s biggest platinum deposits, ensuring that the mining industry stays profitable. The diamond fields of Marange, found in 2006, are regarded as the largest diamond discovery in almost a century. They have the potential to significantly improve the country’s economic position, but virtually all of the money from the field has gone into the wallets of army commanders and ZANU-PF officials.
The Marange field is one of the world’s biggest diamond-producing sites, with 12 million carats worth over $350 million expected to be produced in 2014. South Africa’s largest trade partner on the continent is Zimbabwe.
Private businesses face hefty taxes and tariffs, while state-owned businesses are heavily subsidized. Companies pay a high price for state regulation, and establishing or terminating a company is time-consuming and expensive. In 2007, government expenditure was expected to exceed 67 percent of GDP.
Tourism used to be a major source of revenue for the nation, but it has been declining in recent years. In a study published in June 2007, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force estimated that 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s wildlife has perished due to poaching and deforestation since 2000. According to the study, the loss of life coupled with extensive deforestation may be catastrophic for the tourism sector.
Zimbabwe’s ICT industry has been rapidly expanding. According to a study published in June/July 2011 by the mobile internet browser firm Opera, Zimbabwe is Africa’s fastest growing market.
Through US legislation known as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, the government of Zimbabwe has had its lines of credit at international financial institutions blocked since January 1, 2002. (ZDERA). Section 4C directs the Secretary of the Treasury to order directors of foreign financial institutions to deny the Zimbabwean government loans and credit. These sanctions, according to the US, are solely aimed at seven particular companies owned or controlled by government officials, not regular people.
According to an independent research, the penalties have had a negative impact on the wellbeing of regular people.
Throughout the 1980s (5 percent annual GDP growth) and 1990s, Zimbabwe maintained a solid economic growth rate (4.3 percent GDP growth per year). From 2000 to 2003, the GDP shrank by 5% in 2000, 8% in 2001, 12% in 2002, and 18% in 2003. Zimbabwe’s participation in the Congolese conflict from 1998 to 2002 devastated the country’s economy of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government’s incompetence and corruption, as well as the expulsion of over 4,000 white farmers in the contentious land confiscations of 2000, have been blamed for the economy’s downward spiral. The Zimbabwean government and its allies claim that Western policies aimed at retaliating for their kin’s deportation destroyed the economy.
In actual terms, the typical Zimbabwean’s buying power has fallen to the same levels as in 1953 by 2005. The government, headed by central bank governor Gideon Gono, began making overtures in 2005 to allow white farmers to return. Only 400 to 500 people remained in the country, although most of the seized land was no longer productive.
Some white farmers were given long-term leases by the government in January 2007. At the same time, the government continued to insist that all remaining white farmers, who had already been served with eviction letters, leave the land or face arrest. Mugabe blamed the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy, as well as the country’s 80% official unemployment rate, on foreign countries and claimed “sabotage.”
According to the country’s Central Statistical Office, inflation increased from a low of 32 percent in 1998 to an official high of 11,200,000 percent in August 2008. This signaled a condition of hyperinflation, prompting the central bank to issue a fresh $100 billion banknote.
Acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa stated on January 29, 2009, that Zimbabweans would be allowed to do business using other, more stable currencies in addition to the Zimbabwe dollar, in an attempt to combat spiraling inflation. On April 12, 2009, the Zimbabwean Dollar was banned indefinitely in order to fight inflation and promote economic development. Zimbabwe currently accepts the US dollar as well as a variety of other currencies, including the rand (South Africa), pula (Botswana), euro, and pound sterling (UK).
The Zimbabwean economy has been on the mend since the establishment of the Unity Government in 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, GDP increased by more than 5%. The IMF characterized Zimbabwe’s economy as “completing its second year of robust economic development” in November 2010.
Despite Mugabe’s threats to nationalize Zimplats, the country’s biggest platinum business, has invested US$500 million in expansions and is still working on a separate US$2 billion project. In February 2011, the pan-African investment bank IMARA published a positive assessment on Zimbabwe’s investment prospects, noting a better income base and increased tax collections.
The Zimbabwean finance ministry announced in late January 2013 that it had just $217 in its treasury and would seek contributions to fund the upcoming elections, which are expected to cost 107 million USD.
Metallon Corporation was Zimbabwe’s biggest gold miner as of October 2014. By 2019, the company wants to expand output to 500,000 ounces per year.