Zimbabwe Country Overview

According to Countryaah, Zimbabwe is a state in southern Africa, almost circular in shape, landlocked and between: Zambia to the N, Mozambique to the N and E, the Republic of South Africa to the South, Botswana to the West.

  1. Physical characteristics

Overall, Zimbabwe appears as a region of relatively homogeneous and not very lively plateaus, with average elevations of 1000-1500 m asl., Mavuradonha), which at the eastern border reach 2600 m; to the North of this alignment, which acts as a watershed, the plateaus gradually descend towards the valley of the Zambezi river, of which the right section is formed by the middle basin; to the South, similarly, they slope down towards the Limpopo, occupying part of the left section of its middle pelvis. In the center of the country, across the watershed, and with a direction roughly NS, the so-called Great Dyke develops for about 500 km, an outcrop of basic volcanic rocks, no more than 10 km wide, with strong concentrations of useful minerals. The two great rivers, with their tributaries, characterize much of the hydrography of Zimbabwe. A third river, the Save, has its own basin and drains most of the southeastern section of the country.

The climate is tropical, with marked seasonal differences, moderate temperatures from the altitude (on the plateaus, annual averages of 16-22 ° C) and strong annual and daytime excursions, rainfall generally between 700 and 900 mm, concentrated in summer (November- March) and much more accentuated in the eastern regions (up to over 1600 mm); the western section, close to the Kalahari depression, has continental and drought characteristics, while along the river valleys the temperature and humidity far exceed the average values.

  1. Population

The Zimbabwe is a region of ancient and constant population, as evidenced by a large number of archaeological finds: among these, imposing stone buildings (called Zimbabwe, hence the name of the country), very rare in other regions of black Africa. In historical times, the population had to be ensured by the Bushmen, now present only in the far west, which overlapped various Bantu groups, including the Shona ; they had a long period of flourishing and organized a powerful state (the reign of Monomotapa), also known to Europeans since their first arrival in the area (16th century). Subsequently, an immigration of Zulu peoples (including the Ndebele), and finally the arrival of British settlers, completed the ethnographic picture of the country. Despite the 1980 abolition of the apartheid regime established by the Whites in 1965, the social wounds are still deep and the relations between the white community and the black population remain difficult, so much so that in the last two decades the white minority has decreased significantly due to a slow but an incessant exodus, determined by a hostile policy. From a demographic point of view, the population increased sharply until the mid-1990s, and then dropped significantly in the following decade. The decrease is due to both the recurring periods of famine and the spread of AIDS, a true social scourge (140,000 deaths a year and 1.3 million HIV-positive in 2007). Serious conditions, but less dramatic than most of the countries in the area, present data relating to infant mortality (30.9 ‰ in 2010) and life expectancy (47 years); the illiteracy rate is quite low (9.3%), thanks to an effective education policy. The population density remains weak in average terms, although the highland areas, and especially theEastern Mashonaland (around the capital) have higher concentrations; the urban population in the country as a whole is just 37% of the total. Outside the Harare metropolitan area, the major urban center is Bulawayo.

The official language is English, but the most widely spoken languages ​​are CiShona and IsiNdebele, idioms of the two major ethnic groups. About 40% of the population is Christian, with a prevalence of Protestants. An almost equally large share, on the other hand, follows traditional beliefs.

  1. Economic conditions

The economic structure of the Zimbabwe is strongly conditioned by the choices made in colonial times, in favor of mining exploitation and plantation agriculture, both controlled by the white minority or by multinational companies. The two export-oriented sectors have guaranteed Zimbabwe for years the position of second economic power in southern Africa, after the Republic of South Africa. From the mid-1990s, however, a serious phase of recession began, due to structural problems inherited from the colonial period, to negative international circumstances, to unfavorable environmental conditions, to the economic choices of President Mugabe. The cessation of aid was also heavily penalized after the Zimbabwe intervened in the civil war of its neighbor Democratic Republic of Congo, supporting the regime of L. Kabila. The impact on the standard of living of the population was heavy, 68% of which now live below the poverty line. Inflation is growing at a galloping pace and the unemployment rate is estimated at 90% of the active population (2009), the highest in the world.

As for agriculture (which employs over 65% of the workforce and contributes 19% to GDP), the country enjoys a good variety of production: subsistence crops are mainly represented by corn, cassava, wheat, beans and barley; commercial ones from tobacco, cotton, sugar cane, soy, coffee and tea. Overall, however, the sector shows a worrying vulnerability to weather conditions, aggravated by the failure to adopt more efficient cultivation systems. The breeding, especially bovine, is practiced with modern methods and is based on selected breeds. The forests, despite the severe impoverishment, supply a good quantity of precious woods (over 9 million m3 in 2007).

The resources of the subsoil are the main wealth of the Zimbabwe (gold, asbestos, chromium, copper, nickel, ferrous alloys prevail among the exports). The mining sector feeds a complex of industrial activities that presents an unusual development for the region, supported by a good production of hydroelectric energy, largely supplied by the Kariba plant, on the Zambezi River. Alongside the metallurgy of copper, iron and tin, mechanical, chemical, food, textile, paper and cement industries have sprung up. An oil refinery is in operation near Mutare, connected by an oil pipeline to Beira (Mozambique). The secondary sector absorbs 10% of the workforce and contributes 24% to GDP. Tourism (which has Victoria Falls among its main destinations, parks, Inyanga Mountains) is a good source of income. The trade balance, in surplus until the end of the 1990s, subsequently recorded net liabilities. Main trading partners are the Republic of South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and China.

With no outlet to the sea, the Zimbabwe can make use of the Mozambican ports (Beira and Maputo), connected by rail; other lines reach Zambia and the Republic of South Africa; the internal network (3077 km) is centered on a ridge that runs through the plateaus joining Bulawayo and Harare, from which direct lines branch out. The structure of the road network is similar (97,267 km, of which over 18,000 are asphalted).

Zimbabwe Country Overview