Country profile

Essential Historical Information

Prior to independence as Zimbabwe, the nation had been known by several names: Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Following the Lancaster House Agreement there was a transition to majority rule in 1980; the United Kingdom ceremonially granted Zimbabwe independence on 18 April that year.

 Geographical Conditions

Zimbabwe is twice the size of the United Kingdom. The country is completely land-locked, occupying the high plateau between the Zambezi River to the North and the Limpopo to the South, with a mountainous region in the East. Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana border Zimbabwe (clockwise from the North).

The terrain is mainly a plateau of four regions. The high veld, above 1,219 m (4,000 ft) crosses the country from Southwest to Northeast. On each side of it lies the middle veld, 914–1,219 m (3,000 to 4,000 ft) high, and beyond it the low veld, at elevations below 914 m (3,000 ft). The fourth region, the Eastern Highlands, is a narrow, mountainous belt along the Mozambique border, where the highest point in Zimbabwe, Mt. Inyangani (2,592 m /8,503 f/) stands. Zimbabwe has an extensive national park system, including Hwange and Victoria Falls, both in the West. Rainfall varies from about 178 cm (70 in.) in the Highlands to less than 64 cm (25 in.) in the South. In addition to Harare, other cities include Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru, and Mutare.

Although located in the tropics, temperate conditions prevail all year, as the climate is moderated by altitude and the inland position of the country. The hot and dry season is from August to October, and the rainy season from November to March. Night-time temperatures can fall below freezing.

The following are the demographic characteristics of Zimbabwe:

Land area: 386,669 sq km (149,293 square miles)

Total area:  390,580 sq km (150,804 square miles)


Key Economic Indicators

According to the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset), the current economic blueprint, the key economic drivers are mining, agriculture, transport, information and communication technology, tourism and small and medium enterprises. The economic plan comprises four sectors- food security and nutrition, social services and poverty reduction, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation.

Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, Zimbabwe's economy recorded real growth of more than 9% per year in 2010-11, before slowing to 5% in 2012, due in part to a poor harvest and low diamond revenues. However, the government of Zimbabwe still faces a number of difficult economic problems, including infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, ongoing indigenization pressure, policy uncertainty, a large external debt burden, and insufficient formal employment. In early 2009 multi-currencies such as the Botswana pula, the South Africa rand, and the US dollar were used locally after a period of hyper-inflation. Inflation currently is at 2%.

 Currency: Multi-currency, predominantly the US dollar and South African rand (the most widely used currencies) but also the Botswana pula, British pound and the euro.  The Zimbabwe dollar was suspended indefinitely by the Zimbabwe government in April 2009 following a period of hyper-inflation.


Demographic indicators

2012 Population Indicators
Population Indicator  
Total Population 13,724,000
% Female 50.68
% Rural 60.89
% Below 15 40.24
   Source: World Bank

Some 82 percent of the population belong to the Shona community, while 14 percent are from the Ndebele community. There are other indeginous  communities which are smaller in terms of the numbers of people.  Zimbabwe has communities of Asian and European descent. Zimbabwe's official language is English, with Shona and Ndebele being the predominant African languages. The 2013 constitution recognizes 13 other languages which the Ministry seeks to utilize to enhance learning particularly in the early years of schooling. The population practices Christianity and there are also indigenous and other religions. The Zimbabwe constitution guarantees freedom of worship.

Languages: English (official language), Shona and Ndebele
Religion(s): Christian (various); indigenous; small Hindu, Muslim, Jewish communities

 Political and Administrative Structures.

The Constitution

The new Constitution which came into effect in 2013, is the fundamental law which determines Zimbabwe's governmental structure. The Constitution provides for three arms of State, namely the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature. The Ministers are appointed by the President and swear to serve truly the people of Zimbabwe and to uphold the constitution.

The Executive

The President is the head-of-state and Government, as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.  He/she must be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent, age 40 or above, and reside in Zimbabwe. The President is elected for a five-year term by all registered voters and may be re-elected for a second term only. The Constitution provides for two vice-presidents who are appointed by the President. Their functions include assisting the President to discharge executive responsibilities. Since independence in 1980 Zimbabwe has conducted national general elections as scheduled, the latest being the 31 July 2013 elections which were held in a tranquil atmosphere where there was no threat even to a single life and all parties campaigned for office without hindrance.

The Judiciary

Judicial authority is vested in the Supreme Court, the High Court, and subsidiary courts established by an Act of Parliament, namely, magistrate courts.  Local courts are headed by chiefs and/or headmen, and small claims courts.  The President appoints the Chief Justice, who is the head of the judiciary and Supreme and High court judges after consultation with the Judicial Services Commission.