Zimbabwe Information

General Information for Zimbabwe

Country: Zimbabwe
Location: Southern Africa
Independence: April 18, 1980
Nationality: Zimbabwean
Capital City: Harare
Population: 11,139,961
Important Cities: Mutoko, Bulawayo, Rutenga
Head of State: Robert Mugabe
Area: 390,759 sq.km.
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 5.06 Z Dollars=1 USD
Major peoples: Shona, N'debele, Xhosa, Zulu
Religion: Christian 75%, African religion 24%, Muslim 1%
Climate: Subtropical
Literacy: 67%
Official Language: English
Principal Languages: Shona, N'debele
Major Exports: Gold, Chrome Ore, Copper, Silver
Pre-Colonial History Archaeologists have found Stone Age implements and pebble tools in several areas of Zimbabwe, suggesting human habitation for many centuries, and the ruins of stone buildings provide evidence of early civilization. The most impressive of these sites are the "Great Zimbabwe" ruins. Evidence suggests that these stone structures were built between the 9th and 13th centuries A.D. by Africans who had established trading contacts with commercial centers on Africa's southeastern coast. In the 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to attempt colonization of south-central Africa, but the hinterland lay virtually untouched by Europeans until the arrival of explorers, missionaries, and traders some 300 years later. Successive waves of Bantu peoples from equatorial regions supplanted the original inhabitants and are the ancestors of some of the region's Africans today. The British South Africa Company was chartered in 1889, and the settlement of Salisbury (now Harare, the capital) was established in 1890. In 1895, the territory was formally named Rhodesia, after Cecil Rhodes, British colonialist who obtained a concession for mineral rights from local chiefs. In April 1964, Prime Minister Winston Field, accused for not moving rapidly enough to obtain independence from the United Kingdom, was replaced by his deputy, Ian Smith.
Post-Colonial History In the 1960s, the British Government imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Rhodesia and requested other nations to do the same. In 1976, because of a combination of embargo-related economic hardships and the pressure of guerrilla activity, the Ian Smith government agreed to a meeting in Geneva with black nationalists leaders-Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, and Ndabaningi Sithole-to negotiate a final settlement of the conflict. Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) Party won an absolute majority in elections and was asked to form Zimbabwe's first government. The British Government formally granted independence to Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. In the 1985 elections, ZANU increased its majority, holding 67 of the 100 seats under Robert Mugabe's presidency. ZANU-Patriotic Front (PF) won an overwhelming victory at legislative elections, which took place on April 8 and 9,1995.

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