Beaties of nature, a diversified animal kingdom and interesting cultures are waiting for you. The most impressing natural wonder is the Victoria Falls which you can easily combine with a safari through Botswana.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country of southern Africa. It shares a 125-mile (200-kilometre) border on the south with the Republic of South Africa and is bounded on the southwest and west by Botswana, on the north by Zambia, and on the northeast and east by Mozambique. The capital is Harare (formerly called Salisbury). Zimbabwe achieved majority rule and internationally recognized independence in April 1980 following a long period of colonial rule and a 15-year period of white-dominated minority rule, instituted after the minority regime's so-called Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965.
Zimbabwe's total population is 12 million. Some 85% of Zimbabweans are Christian; 62% of the population attends religious services regularly. The largest Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist and Methodist. As in other African countries, Christianity may be mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Besides Christianity, ancestral worship is the most practiced non-Christian religion, involving spiritual intercession. Around 1% of the population is Muslim.
Bantu-speaking ethnic groups make up 98% of the population. The majority people, the Shona, comprise 70%. The Ndebele are the second most populous with 20% of the population. The Ndebele descended from Zulu migrations in the 19th century and the other tribes with which they intermarried. Other Bantu ethnic groups make up the third largest with 2 to 5%. These are Venda, Tonga, Shangaan, Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau and Nambya. Minority ethnic groups include white Zimbabweans, who make up less than 1% of the total population. White Zimbabweans are mostly of British origin, but there are also Afrikaner, Greek, Portuguese, French and Dutch communities.
Zimbabwe has three official languages: English, Shona and Ndebele.
Harare is the largest city and capital of Zimbabwe. It has an estimated population of 1,606,000 (2009), with 2,800,000 in its metropolitan area. Administratively, Harare is an independent city equivalent to a province. It is Zimbabwe's largest city and its administrative, commercial, and communications centre. The city is a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Manufactures include textiles, steel, and chemicals, and gold is mined in the area. Harare is situated at an elevation of 1483 meters (4865 feet) and its climate falls into the warm temperate category.
Harare is the site of the University of Zimbabwe, the largest institution of higher learning in Zimbabwe, which is situated in the suburb of Mount Pleasant, about 6 km north of the city centre. Numerous suburbs surround the city, retaining the names colonial administrators gave them during the 19th century, such as Warren Park, Borrowdale, Mount Pleasant, Marlborough, Tynwald and Avondale.
Worth seeing in Harare: The Queen Victoria Museum, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe
Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe after the capital Harare, with an estimated metropolitan population in 2007 of 731 003. It is located in Matabeleland, 439 km southwest of Harare, and is now treated as a separate provincial area from Matabeleland. The capital of Matabeleland North is now Lupane, as Bulawayo is a stand-alone province. Bulawayo is also known as the 'City of Kings', 'Skies', 'Bluez', 'Bulliesberg' or 'KoNtuthu ziyathunqa' - a SiNdebele word for 'a place of smoky fires'.
It is a multicultural city with most residents able to speak at least three languages (including English, Ndebele, Shona, Xhosa, Kalanga, Sotho, Nambya, Tonga and Venda). The majority of the Bulawayo's population belongs to the Ndebele ethnic and language group, who descend from a 19th century Zulu migration and are a minority in Zimbabwe. Bulawayo has long been and is still regarded as the industrial and business capital of Zimbabwe and is home to the National Railways of Zimbabwe because of its strategic position near Botswana and South Africa.
Worth seeing in Bulawayo: Ruins of Khami (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage), national Railway Museum, Natural History Museum
Proto-Shona speaking societies first emerged in the middle Limpopo valley in the 9th century before moving on to the Zimbabwean highlands. The Zimbabwean plateau eventually became the center of subsequent Shona states, beginning in ca. the 10th century. Around the early 10th century, trade developed with Arab merchants on the Indian Ocean coast, helping to develop the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in the 11th century. This was the precursor to the more impressive Shona civilisations that would dominate the region during the 13th to 15th centuries.
From about 1300 until 1600, Mapungubwe was eclipsed by the Kingdom of Zimbabwe. This Shona state further refined and expanded upon Mapungubwe's stone architecture, which survives to this day at the ruins of the kingdom's capital of Great Zimbabwe. From c. 1450-1760, Zimbabwe gave way to the Kingdom of Mutapa. This Shona state ruled much of the area that is known as Zimbabwe today, and parts of central Mozambique. Around 1821, the Zulu general Mzilikazi (meaning the Great Road) of the Khumalo clan successfully rebelled from King Shaka and set up his own tribe, the Ndebele. The tribe fought its way northwards into the Transvaal leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and beginning an era of widespread killings and devastation known as the Mfecane. When the Boer settlers (descendants of Dutch and other Europeans) arrived in the Transvaal in 1836 during the Great Trek they attacked the Ndebele and drove the tribe even further northward.
In the 1880s, the British arrived with colonialist Cecil Rhodes's British South Africa Company. In 1888, Rhodes obtained a concession for mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele peoples. In 1953, in the face of African opposition, Britain consolidated the two colonies of Rhodesia with Nyasaland in the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was dominated by Southern Rhodesia. Growing African nationalism and general dissent, particularly in Nyasaland, persuaded Britain to dissolve the Union in 1963, forming three colonies.
After UDI, the British government requested United Nations economic sanctions against Rhodesia as negotiations with the Smith administration in 1966 and 1968 ended in stalemate. In December 1966, the United Nations imposed the first mandatory economic sanctions on a state. Smith's declaration of a republic in 1970 was recognized only by South Africa, then governed by its apartheid administration. Over the years, the fighting against Ian Smith's government intensified. As a result, the Smith government opened negotiations with the leaders of ZAPU and ZANU.
The head of the State was the British Queen till the Republican Constitution came to effect on 2. March 1970. Since then there has been the President of Zimbabwe.
Mineral exports, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of Zimbabwe. The mining sector remains very lucrative, with some of the world's largest platinum reserves being mined by Anglo-American and Impala Platinum. The Marange diamond fields, discovered in 2006, are considered the biggest diamond find in over a century. Zimbabwe is the biggest trading partner of South Africa on the continent.
Zimbabwe maintained positive economic growth throughout the 1980s (5.0% GDP growth per year) and 1990s (4.3% GDP growth per year). The economy declined from 2000: 5% decline in 2000, 8% in 2001, 12% in 2002 and 18% in 2003. The government of Zimbabwe faces a variety of economic problems after having abandoned earlier efforts to develop a market-oriented economy. Zimbabwe was previously an exporter of maize but has become a net importer. Tobacco exports and other exports of crops have also declined sharply.
Since the formation of the Unity Government in 2009, the Zimbabwean economy has been on the rebound. GDP grew by more than 5% in the year 2009 and 2011.