Zimbabwe country profile

Map of Zimbabwe

The struggle for independence, land and power runs throughout Zimbabwe's history. Veteran President Robert Mugabe dominated the country's political scene for almost four decades after independence from Britain in 1980.

Landlocked, the southern African country is bordered by Zambia in the north, Mozambique in the east, Botswana in the west and South Africa in the south.

Once the bread basket of the region, since 2000 Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its own people due to severe droughts and the effects of a land reform programme which saw the seizure of white-owned farms redistributed to landless black Zimbabweans which led to sharp falls in production.

Cash-strapped and impoverished, Zimbabwe's economy faces severe challenges. Unemployment and poverty are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace. Many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa.


Republic of Zimbabwe

Capital: Harare

  • Population 16 million

  • Area 390,759 sq km (150,873 sq miles)

  • Major languages English (official), Shona, Sindebele

  • Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs

  • Life expectancy 58 years (men), 62 years (women)

  • Currency Multi-currency system; US dollar and South African rand predominate

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President: Emmerson Mnangagwa

Image copyright Getty Images

Emmerson Mnangagwa became president in November 2017 following a dramatic week in which the military took charge and Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in office.

He is to serve out Mr Mugabe's term until elections scheduled for August 2018.

Mr Mnangagwa served as first vice-president from 2014 until his dismissal on 6 November 2017. Two weeks later, the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked Mr Mugabe as leader and appointed Mr Mnangagwa as party president.

He took part in the fight for independence in the 1960s and has held several key roles since independence in 1980.

Known as "the crocodile" because of his political cunning, he is associated with some of worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since independence.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Control over the land has been a major issue in Zimbabwe

All broadcasters in Zimbabwe, and many of the main newspapers, toe the government line.

Radio is the main source of information. State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) operates TV and radio networks and two national private radio stations are licensed.

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Some key events in Zimbabwe's history:

1200-1600 - Era of the Monomotapa Empire, noted for international trade, gold mining and the construction of Great Zimbabwe, now a World Heritage site.

1889-23 - Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company uses British mandate to colonise what becomes Southern Rhodesia.

1965 - Prime Minister Ian Smith unilaterally declares independence from Britain under white-minority rule, leading to international isolation.

1980 - Independence following lengthy guerrilla war. Zanu party wins elections and Robert Mugabe becomes prime minister.

1983-87 - Gukurahundi campaign, in which 20,000 are thought to have been killed in Matabeleland by Mugabe's Fifth Brigade. The violence ends following a unity accord, when the Zapu party is absorbed into the renamed governing Zanu-PF party.

1998-2002 - Zimbabwe intervenes in civil war in DR Congo.

2000s - Land redistribution: White farmers forced off land.

2002 - Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe after disputed presidential election.

2008 - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beats Mugabe in the presidential election but is forced to withdraw from a run-off after his supporters become the target of increased violence.

2009 - Mugabe's Zanu-PF loses parliamentary majority forcing power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai's MDC which lasts until 2013.

2017 November - Mugabe resigns after 37 years in power.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ruins of Great Zimbabwe are the remains of a lost civilization

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