Country Profiles:

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Harare (formerly, Salisbury).

In the late 19th century, European colonists arrived with the British South Africa Company, and acquired rights to mine the area. Mass settlement ultimately occurred, and the region was renamed Rhodesia in honor of Cecil Rhodes. Formerly the self-governing British Crown, colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia.

Rhodesia evolved into a ” white man’s country” orchestrated by the British. This takeover  prompted national pride and local guerrilla wars that soon became a major civil war and 15-year period of white-dominated minority rule, instituted after the minority regime’s so-called Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Zimbabwe include:

1. Khami Ruins National Monument
It was once the capital of the Kingdom of Butua of the Torwa dynasty. It is now a national monument, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The settlement that we see today was a development of the architectural form that emerged at Great Zimbabwe in the 13th century AD and a local Leopard’s Kopje culture that built platforms of rough walling on which houses would be constructed. Khami marks an innovation that recognised the environment in which was built. The area around Khami, being riverine, is hot and had problems with malaria. The stone found at Khami (laminar granite) was different from that found in other areas of Zimbabwe (biotite).

2. Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas.
The park, located on the banks of the Zambezi River, features a variety of wild animals, such as buffalo, leopards, cheetahs and Nile crocodiles.

3. Matobo Hills
The large boulders have been used as natural shelters since the early Stone Age and feature a collection of rock paintings. The hills were formed over 2 billion years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth “whaleback dwalas” and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning ‘Bald Heads’.

4. Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls (Tokaleya Tonga: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders”) is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has been described by CNN as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world.
David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain, but the indigenous Tonga name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—”The Smoke That Thunders”—continues in common usage as well. The World Heritage List officially recognizes both names.

The nearby national park in Zambia is named Mosi-oa-Tunya, whereas the national park and town on the Zimbabwean shore are both named Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe achieved majority rule and internationally recognized independence in April 18th 1980.

Once it gained its freedom, it called itself Zimbabwe, a name literally means “House of Stone.” This name comes from the 800-year-old stone ruins left by the Shona people. The descendants of the Shona people make up 77 percent of the Zimbabwean population. Since Independence Day, Robert Mugabe, the nation’s first prime minister, has dominated the country’s political system. At the start of his administration he established a one-party socialist institution. During his long term in office, his reputation as a champion of the anticolonial movement changed (for the worse) to an authoritarian ruler responsible for ruining the country’s economy and for egregious human rights abuses. Mugabe finally resigned in November 2017 in the midst of a dramatic military takeover, Mugabe resigned after 37 years in office and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place. He is to serve out Mr. Mugabe’s term until elections scheduled for August 2018.

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. The rise in gold prices in the 1970s revived gold as the country’s leading export and led to the reopening in 1979–80 of more than 100 dormant mines. Nickel mining began on a commercial scale in the late 1960s. Zimbabwe’s huge coal reserves are estimated to be about 30 billion tons, much of it desirable low-sulfur bituminous coal. Other minerals such as asbestos and copper have increased. Coal is the country’s primary energy source. A growing percentage of the coal utilized is transformed first into electricity by thermal generating plants fueled by coal. Electric power is also generated at the huge Kariba Dam, which Zimbabwe shares with Zambia, on the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe’s commercial farming sector was traditionally a source of exports and foreign exchange, however, the government’s land reform program badly damaged the sector, turning Zimbabwe into a net importer of food products.

Bantu-speaking ethnic groups make up 98% of the population. More than two-thirds of Zimbabweans speak Shona as their first language, while about one out of six speak Ndebele. Both Shona and Ndebele are Bantu languages. Zimbabwe’s ethnic and linguistic diversity is reflected in the 2013 constitution, which gives official status to 16 languages: Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangaan, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa.

Cuisine in Zimbabwe interestingly straightforward and pretty much revolves around staple foods. The most common of which is sadza, a thick porridge made of white maize

Biltong (sun-dried, salted meat cut into strips similar to beef jerky); Sadza ( a cornmeal-based dietary staple of Zimbabwe is also the national dish); Mapopo (Papaya) Candy; Kapenta (tiny dried fish, used as a snack); Dovi (Peanut Butter Stew); Mopane worms (edible caterpillars usually eaten as is or with sadza); Boerewors (a coiled beef sausage).

Zimbabwe’s traditional music is diverse depending on the region of the country. The Mbira, is a musical style synonymous with Chimurenga, which is a Shona word that means a struggle. Zimbabwe’s wars against the settler regime are called Chimurenga. Prior to independence Chimurenga was sung as a morale booster to the liberation fighters. Following independence, Chimurenga music usually delves on the social injustices perpetrated by the government. The music was pioneered by Thomas Mapfumo. other musical styles includes; Sungura (a Zimbabwean adaptation of the Congolese rhumba); Marimba is an instrument popular in larger parts of the country.

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