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The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 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). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, 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. His chaotic land redistribution campaign begun in 2000 caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. Opposition and labor groups launched general strikes in 2003 to pressure MUGABE to retire early; security forces continued their brutal repression of regime opponents.
Geography Zimbabwe
Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia
Geographic coordinates:
20 00 S, 30 00 E
Map references:
total: 390,580 sq km
water: 3,910 sq km
land: 386,670 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 3,066 km
border countries: Botswana 813 km, Mozambique 1,231 km, South Africa 225 km, Zambia 797 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
none (landlocked)
tropical; moderated by altitude; rainy season (November to March)
mostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld); mountains in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Runde and Save rivers 162 m
highest point: Inyangani 2,592 m
Natural resources:
coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals
Land use:
arable land: 8.4%
permanent crops: 0.34%
other: 91.26% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,170 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; land degradation; air and water pollution; the black rhinoceros herd - once the largest concentration of the species in the world - has been significantly reduced by poaching; poor mining practices have led to toxic waste and heavy metal pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zambia; in full flood (February-April) the massive Victoria Falls on the river forms the world's largest curtain of falling water
People Zimbabwe
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.4% (male 2,520,082; female 2,472,641)
15-64 years: 57% (male 3,649,400; female 3,571,631)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 230,272; female 227,834) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.1 years
female: 19.1 years (2004 est.)
male: 19.1 years
Population growth rate:
0.68% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
30.05 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
23.3 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population NEGL migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there is an increasing flow of Zimbabweans into South Africa and Botswana in search of better economic opportunities (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 67.08 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 64.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 69.74 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 37.82 years
male: 38.63 years
female: 36.99 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.6 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
33.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2.3 million (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
200,000 (2001 est.)
noun: Zimbabwean(s)
adjective: Zimbabwean
Ethnic groups:
African 98% (Shona 82%, Ndebele 14%, other 2%), mixed and Asian 1%, white less than 1%
syncretic (part Christian, part indigenous beliefs) 50%, Christian 25%, indigenous beliefs 24%, Muslim and other 1%
English (official), Shona, Sindebele (the language of the Ndebele, sometimes called Ndebele), numerous but minor tribal dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 90.7%
male: 94.2%
female: 87.2% (2003 est.)
Government Zimbabwe
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Zimbabwe
conventional short form: Zimbabwe
former: Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
8 provinces and 2 cities* with provincial status; Bulawayo*, Harare*, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands
18 April 1980 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 April (1980)
21 December 1979
Legal system:
mixture of Roman-Dutch and English common law
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Executive President Robert Gabriel MUGABE (since 31 December 1987); Joseph MSIKA (since 23 December 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Executive President Robert Gabriel MUGABE (since 31 December 1987); Joseph MSIKA (since 23 December 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president; responsible to the House of Assembly
elections: presidential candidates nominated with a nomination paper signed by at least 10 registered voters (at least one from each province) and elected by popular vote; election last held 9-11 March 2002 (next to be held NA March 2008); co-vice presidents appointed by the president
election results: Robert Gabriel MUGABE reelected president; percent of vote - Robert Gabriel MUGABE 56.2%, Morgan TSVANGIRAI 41.9%
Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Assembly (150 seats - 120 elected by popular vote for five-year terms, 12 nominated by the president, 10 occupied by traditional chiefs chosen by their peers, and 8 occupied by provincial governors appointed by the president)
elections: last held 24-25 June 2000 (next to be held NA 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party - ZANU-PF 48.6%, MDC 47.0%, other 4.4%; seats by party - ZANU-PF 62, MDC 57, ZANU-Ndonga 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; High Court
Political parties and leaders:
Movement for Democratic Change or MDC [Morgan TSVANGIRAI]; National Alliance for Good Governance or NAGG [Shakespeare MAYA]; United Parties [Abel MUZOREWA]; Zimbabwe African National Union-Ndonga or ZANU-Ndonga [Wilson KUMBULA]; Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF [Robert Gabriel MUGABE]; Zimbabwe African Peoples Union or ZAPU [Agrippa MADLELA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Constitutional Assembly or NCA [Lovemore MADHUKU]; Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition [Brian KAGORO]; Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions or ZCTU [Lovemore MATOMBO]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Simbi Veke MUBAKO
FAX: [1] (202) 483-9326
telephone: [1] (202) 332-7100
chancery: 1608 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Joseph G. SULLIVAN
embassy: 172 Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Harare
mailing address: P. O. Box 3340, Harare
telephone: [263] (4) 250-593 and 250-594
FAX: [263] (4) 796488
Flag description:
seven equal horizontal bands of green, yellow, red, black, red, yellow, and green with a white isosceles triangle edged in black with its base on the hoist side; a yellow Zimbabwe bird representing the long history of the country is superimposed on a red five-pointed star in the center of the triangle, which symbolizes peace; green symbolizes agriculture, yellow - mineral wealth, red - blood shed to achieve independence, and black stands for the native people
Economy Zimbabwe
Economy - overview:
The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles with an unsustainable fiscal deficit, an overvalued exchange rate, soaring inflation, and bare shelves. Its 1998-2002 involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. Badly needed support from the IMF has been suspended because of the country's failure to meet budgetary goals. Inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to 383% in 2003, and is expected to reach 700% in 2004. The government's land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, has badly damaged the commercial farming sector, the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange and the provider of 400,000 jobs.
purchasing power parity - $24.03 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-13.6% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,900 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25.1%
industry: 15.5%
services: 59.4% (2001)
Population below poverty line:
70% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.97%
highest 10%: 40.42% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
50.1 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
383.4% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
5.8 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 66%, services 24%, industry 10% (1996)
Unemployment rate:
70% (2002 est.)
revenues: $1.4 billion
expenditures: $2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2003)
mining (coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin, clay, numerous metallic and nonmetallic ores), steel, wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, beverages
Industrial production growth rate:
-3.1% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.735 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 47%
hydro: 53%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
9.813 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
3.55 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
23,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
corn, cotton, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts; sheep, goats, pigs
$1.261 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing
Exports - partners:
China 6%, South Africa 5.7%, Germany 5.4%, UK 4.8%, Japan 4.7%, Netherlands 4.4%, US 4.1% (2002)
$1.691 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, other manufactures, chemicals, fuels
Imports - partners:
South Africa 50%, Congo, Democratic Republic of the 5.9%, UK 3.2% (2002)
Debt - external:
$3.4 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$178 million; note - the EU and the US provide food aid on humanitarian grounds (2000 est.)
Zimbabwean dollar (ZWD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Zimbabwean dollars per US dollar - NA (2003), 55.04 (2002), 55.05 (2001), 44.42 (2000), 38.3 (1999); note - these are official exchange rates, non-official rates vary significantly
Fiscal year:
1 January - 31 December
Communications Zimbabwe
Telephones - main lines in use:
287,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
353,000 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: system was once one of the best in Africa, but now suffers from poor maintenance; more than 100,000 outstanding requests for connection despite an equally large number of installed but unused main lines
domestic: consists of microwave radio relay links, open-wire lines, radiotelephone communication stations, fixed wireless local loop installations, and a substantial mobile cellular network; Internet connection is available in Harare and planned for all major towns and for some of the smaller ones
international: country code - 263; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat; two international digital gateway exchanges (in Harare and Gweru)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 7, FM 20 (plus 17 repeater stations), shortwave 1 (1998)
1.14 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
16 (1997)
370,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,382 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
6 (2000)
Internet users:
500,000 (2002)
Transportation Zimbabwe
total: 3,077 km
narrow gauge: 3,077 km 1.067-m gauge (313 km electrified)
note: includes the 318 km Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway Company line (2002)
total: 18,338 km
paved: 8,692 km
unpaved: 9,646 km (1999 est.)
chrome ore is transported from Harare - by way of the Mazoe River - to the Zambezi River in Mozambique
refined products 261 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Binga, Kariba
404 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 8 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 387
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 186
under 914 m: 196 (2003 est.)
Military Zimbabwe
Military branches:
Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police (includes Police Support Unit, Paramilitary Police)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,285,007 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,033,978 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$105 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.7% (2003)
Transnational Issues Zimbabwe
Disputes - international:
the Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe boundary convergence is not clearly defined or delimited
Illicit drugs:
transit point for African cannabis and South Asian heroin, mandrax, and methamphetamines destined for the South African and European markets