390,580 sq. km (150,804 sq miles)
14,150,000 (estimate 2013)
36.23 per sq. km (2014)
Harare – Population: 1.485 million (2012)
By April 2009, the Zimbabwe dollar was suspended indefinitely. The government has adopted a multiple currency framework which includes the Australian Dollar, Botswana Pula, British Sterling Pound, Chinese Yuan, Euro, Japanese Yen, Indian Rupee, South African Rand, and United States Dollar.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers. It borders South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east and is slightly larger than Montana. The capital and largest city is Harare.
Most of the country is elevated in the central plateau stretching from the southwest to the northwest at altitudes between 1,200 and 1,600 meters. The country’s East is mountainous with Mount Nyangani as the highest point at 2,592 meters. About 20% of the country consists of the low veld under 900 meters Victoria Falls, one of the world’s biggest and most spectacular waterfalls, is located in the country’s northwest as part of the Zambezi river. The country has a tropical climate with a rainy season usually from late October to March. The climate is moderated by the altitude. Zimbabwe is faced with recurring droughts; and severe storms are rare.
The country is mostly savannah, although the moist and mountainous east supports tropical evergreen and hardwood forests. Trees include teak and mahogany, knobthorn, msasa and baobab. Among the numerous flowers and shrubs are hibiscus, spider lily, leonotus, cassia, tree wisteria and dombeya.
There are around 350 species of mammals that can be found in Zimbabwe. There are also many snakes and lizards, over 500 bird species, and 131 fish species.
Parliamentary Democracy and Republic. Head of State and Government: President Robert Gabriel Mugabe since 1987. Mugabe is the nation’s first prime minister, has been the country’s only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country’s political system since independence. Mugabe rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his re-election. He serves as head of state and government, and as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Renowned as a champion for the anti-colonial cause, Mugabe also has a reputation as an authoritarian figure responsible for Zimbabwe’s problematic human rights record and substantial economic decline.
Extensive evidence of violence and intimidation resulted in international condemnation of the voting process. Difficult negotiations over a power-sharing “government of national unity,” in which Mugabe remained president and Tsvangiral became prime minister, were finally settled in February 2009, although the leaders failed to agree upon many key outstanding governmental issues. Mugabe was re-elected president in June 2013 in balloting that was severely flawed and internationally condemned. As a prerequisite to holding the election, Zimbabwe enacted a new constitution by referendum, although many provisions in the new constitution have yet to be codified in law.
Zimbabwe is an ethnically diverse country that has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used. Other languages: Tonga, Venda, Hwesa, Sotho, Nambya, Doma and Shangani
Major Religions: Christianity, Hindu, Muslim, and Traditional African
History of Zimbabwe
Since the 11th century, present-day Zimbabwe has been the site of several organized states and kingdoms as well as a major route for migration and trade. The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. A 1961, a constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965, the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty in April 1980.
A chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 1997 and intensified after 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation.
In April 2005, the capital city of Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order, ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition. Magabe, in June 2007, instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months.
Large parts of Zimbabwe were once covered by forests with abundant wildlife. Deforestation and poaching has reduced the amount of wildlife. Woodland degradation and deforestation, due to population growth, urban expansion and lack of fuel, are major concerns and have led to erosion and land degradation which diminish the amount of fertile soil. Local farmers have also been criticized by environmentalists for burning off vegetation to heat their tobacco barns. At the current rate of deforestation, Zimbabwe’s natural woodland is expected to disappear by 2065.
Mineral exports, gold, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of Zimbabwe. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year from 2010-13, before slowing to roughly 3% in 2014 due to poor harvests, low diamond revenues, and decreased investment. The mining sector remains very lucrative, with some of the world’s largest platinum reserves being mined by Anglo American plc and Impala Platinum. The Marange diamond fields, discovered in 2006, are considered the biggest diamond find in over a century. They have the potential to improve the fiscal situation of the country considerably, but almost all revenues from the field have disappeared into the pockets of army officers and ZANU-PF politicians. In terms of carats produced, the Marange field is one of the largest diamond producing projects in the world, estimated to produce 12 million carats in 2014 worth over $350 million.
Zimbabwe is the biggest trading partner of South Africa on the continent.
Foreign and domestic investment continues to be hindered by the lack of clarity regarding the government’s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act.
There are widespread reports of systematic and escalating violations of human rights in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe administration and his party, the ZANU-PF.
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 have been alleged assaults on the media, the political opposition, civil society activists, and human rights defenders.
Opposition gatherings are frequently the subject of brutal attacks by the police force, such as the crackdown on a March 2007 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) rally and several others during the 2008 election campaign. In the attacks of 2007, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 other opposition activists were arrested and severely beaten by the police.
There are also abuses of media rights and access. The Zimbabwean government suppresses freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It has also been repeatedly accused of using the public broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, as a propaganda tool. Newspapers critical of the government, such as the Daily News, closed after bombs exploded at their offices and the government refused to renew their license. BBC News, Sky News, and CNN were banned from filming or reporting from Zimbabwe. In 2009, reporting restrictions on the BBC and CNN were lifted. Sky News continue to report on happenings within Zimbabwe from neighboring countries like South Africa.
- Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking
- Zimbabwean women and girls from towns bordering South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia are subjected to prostitution, sometimes being sold by their parents
- Zimbabwean men, women, and children experience forced labor in agriculture and domestic service in rural areas, as well as domestic servitude and sex trafficking in cities and towns
- Zimbabwean women and men are lured into exploitative labor situations in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Korea, and South Africa with false job offers, while women and girls are lured to Zambia, China, Egypt, the UK, and Canada and forced into prostitution;
- Adults and children from Bangladesh, Somalia, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia are trafficked through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa