Zimbabwe Country Facts

By | May 21, 2024
Capital city Harare
Surface 390,757 km²
Population 15,092,000
Road network length 8,692 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Left
License plate code SW

Zimbabwe, formally the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a country in southern Africa. The country has 16 million inhabitants and is approximately 10 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Harare.

The iconic Victoria Falls on the border with Zambia.


Zimbabwe is located in the interior of southern Africa, it borders Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. It almost borders Namibia in the far west, the four countries just don’t come together. The country measures a maximum of 800 kilometers from east to west and 750 kilometers from north to south. The country largely consists of a plateau at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 meters. The east on the border area with Mozambique has more height differences. The 2,592 meter high Mount Nyangani is the highest point in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s main river is the Zambezi, which forms its northern border. This river also has the famous Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. In the Zambezi is also the large reservoir Lake Kariba, bordered by the Kariba Dam. A large part of the landscape consists of savanna, dense forests are relatively few. The capital Harare is located in the northeast of the country.

The country has a tropical climate, which is tempered by the higher altitude. The west and south is drier than the central and northeastern part of the country. The average maximum temperature in the capital Harare ranges from 22°C in winter to 29°C in summer. More than 800 mm of precipitation falls per year.


Zimbabwe’s population grew from just 2.7 million in 1950 to 12.2 million in 2000 and over 12 million today. The exact population is unclear due to mass emigration due to the economic malaise, the figures range from 12 to 16 million inhabitants. The largest city in Zimbabwe is the capital Harare, which has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. Bulawayo has 650,000 inhabitants and is the second largest city. In addition, there are 5 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

The country’s population is largely made up of Bantu groups. White Zimbabweans make up less than 1% of the population. The primary indigenous languages ​​of Zimbabwe are Bantu languages ​​such as Shona and Ndebele, which are spoken by 70 and 20% of the population. English is the primary language in formal settings, such as government, education and the media. Zimbabwe has 16 official languages.


Zimbabwe was one of the more successful countries in southern Africa after independence. The country has many resources. Economic mismanagement caused a complete collapse of the economy after 2000, with extreme hyperinflation, mass unemployment and massive emigration, especially to South Africa. The country has relatively diverse exports, but the economic meltdown has left much of the economy informal. The country has a nominal GDP of less than $1500 per capita.


Zimbabwe was first populated on a significant scale from ancient times, when Bantu tribes migrated from Central Africa to other parts of the continent, including the region of what is now Zimbabwe. Several kingdoms ruled the area. The first contact with Europeans came through Portuguese from Mozambique. The first European settlers arrived from South Africa in the 1880s, led by Cecil Rhodes. The territory was then called Rhodesia. In 1898 the name was changed to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), the dividing line was the Zambezi River. Southern Rhodesia was formally annexed by the United Kingdom in 1923, after which it became a colony.

In 1953 Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi) were merged into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. However, it was again divided into three territories in 1963. In 1965, Southern Rhodesia declared its independence from the United Kingdom and dropped the ‘Southern’ prefix, after which it was known as Rhodesia or Rhodesia. This independence was not recognized by any country. Ian Smith’s government wanted to continue the structure of a white minority government, but the UK only wanted to recognize independence with majority government.

Rhodesia at the time was an isolated country facing a growing rebellion known as the Rhodesian Bush War. White society at that time was very prosperous, comparable to Western Europe. Rhodesia received support from South Africa and the Portuguese. However, the situation deteriorated significantly after 1975, after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal. The country then found itself surrounded on all sides by hostile states. Ultimately, the conflict became too costly for the Rhodesian government and it was decided in 1979 to rejoin the United Kingdom, hold democratic elections for the entire Zimbabwean people, and finally gain independence in 1980.

One of the rebel leaders at the time was Robert Mugabe. He became Prime Minister in 1980 and then President until 2017. Initially, the country developed somewhat, but went into a major economic slump from the 1990s onwards, with hyperinflation, mismanagement and the confiscation of land from white farmers, forcing the agricultural sector collapsed and the food supply was endangered. The white population had largely emigrated by 2000. Unemployment reached more than 90%. Mugabe resigned in 2017 after a coup.

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