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Zimbabwe (zimˈbäbwā), officially Republic of Zimbabwe, republic (2015 est. pop. 14,229,000), 150,803 sq mi (390,580 sq km), S central Africa. It is bordered on the north by Zambia, on the northeast and east by Mozambique, on the south by South Africa, and on the southwest and west by Botswana. Harare (formerly Salisbury) is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The terrain is mainly a plateau of four regions. The highveld, above 4,000 ft (1,219 m), crosses the country from southwest to northeast. On each side of it lies the middleveld, 3,000 to 4,000 ft (914–1,219 m) high, and beyond it the lowveld, at elevations below 3,000 ft (914 m). The fourth region, the Eastern Highlands, is a narrow, mountainous belt along the Mozambique border, where the highest point in Zimbabwe, Mt. Inyangani (8,503 ft/2,592 m), stands. Zimbabwe has an extensive national park system, including Hwange and Victoria Falls, both in the west. Rainfall varies from about 70 in. (178 cm) in the Highlands to less than 25 in. (64 cm) in the south. In addition to Harare, other cities include Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru, and Mutare.

Some 82% of the population belong to the Shona ethnic group, while 14% are Ndebele. There are small minorities of mixed and Asian descent. Since independence in 1980, the European population of Zimbabwe has fallen to under 100,000. Zimbabwe's official language is English, with Shona and Ndebele being the predominant African languages. About half the population practices a blend of Christian and indigenous religions; the balance of the people are split nearly evenly between the two.


Zimbabwe's economy is basically agricultural. The formerly strong commercial farming sector was thrown into disarray with the expropriation of white-owned farms that began in 2000, and the replacement of large efficient farms with smaller ones worked by inexperienced farmers. Formerly an exporter of foodstuffs, Zimbabwe now must import grains, but the small farmers have reversed some of the losses that occurred in the tobacco crop. Corn is the chief food source, and cotton and tobacco the principal cash crops. Other products include wheat, coffee, sugarcane, and peanuts. There are also tea plantations in the country; dairying is important in the highveld. Sheep, goats and pigs are raised.

Forests in SE Zimbabwe yield valuable hardwoods, including teak and mahogany. The country is endowed with a wide variety of mineral resources. There is extensive mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay, chromium ore, and iron ore), and significant diamond deposits were discoverd in the 21st cent. Among Zimbabwe's industrial products are steel, wood products, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, and beverages. Most of Zimbabwe's power is generated by a hydroelectric station at Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River.

The country has good road and rail networks and domestic and international air service. The main exports are cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles, and clothing. Imports include machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, and fuels. South Africa is by far the largest trading partner, followed by China, Japan, and Zambia.


Zimbabwe is governed under the 2013 constitution. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and may serve two terms. There is a bicameral Parliament. The 80-seat Senate, which was reestablished in 2005, has 60 elected members, 18 traditional tribal chiefs, and two representatives for persons with disabilities. The National Assembly has 210 members, all of whom are elected, but 60 additional seats are reserved for women in the first two Parliaments elected under the 2013 constitution. Members in each body serve five year terms. Administratively, Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces and two cities (Bulawayo and Harare) with provincial status.


Early History to British Control

There are a number of Iron Age sites in Zimbabwe, with artifacts dating from c.A.D. 180. These early cultures were supplanted by Bantu-speaking peoples, who migrated into the area after the 5th cent. The ruins at Great Zimbabwe date from the 11th to the 15th cent. In the early 16th cent., the Portuguese made contact with Shona-dominated states and developed a trade in gold and other items. During the 1830s, the Shona-speaking people were subjected to Ndebele invaders, who forced them to pay tribute. British and Boer traders and hunters moved into the area, and the London Missionary Society established a mission to the Ndebele in 1861.

In 1889 the British South Africa Company, organized by Cecil Rhodes, obtained a charter to promote commerce and colonization in the region. Leander Starr Jameson, an associate of Rhodes, led a column of South African and British pioneers deep into the interior, where they founded (1890) Fort Salisbury. Fighting in 1893 resulted in the defeat of the Ndebele and the takeover of their territory by Rhodes's company. Both the Ndebele and the Shona staged unsuccessful revolts against the British in 1896–97. The settlers pressed the company for political rights, and in 1914 the British government renewed the company's charter on the condition that self-government be granted to the settlers by 1924.

Rhodesia, Independence, and White Supremacy

In late 1922, settlers voted in a referendum to reject proposals for incorporation into the Union of South Africa, electing instead to make Rhodesia a self-governing colony under the British Crown—a status that became effective on Sept. 12, 1923. In 1953, Southern Rhodesia became a member of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (see Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Federation of), despite African objections to a European-dominated federal structure.

In the early 1960s, a new constitution was adopted that provided for limited African political participation; however, the Africans remained unappeased. In 1963 the federation broke up as African majority governments assumed control in Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland (renamed Zambia and Malawi, respectively). After the federation's demise, conservative trends hardened in Southern Rhodesia (which now became known simply as Rhodesia).

The government of staunch conservative Ian Smith, who had become Rhodesian prime minister in 1964, proclaimed a unilateral declaration of independence on Nov. 11, 1965. Britain called the proclamation an act of rebellion but refused to reestablish control by force. When negotiations in 1966 failed to produce an agreement, Britain requested UN economic sanctions against Rhodesia. In 1969, Rhodesia voted to become a republic as of Mar. 2, 1970. In 1971, Britain and Rhodesia reached an accord that provided for gradually increased African political participation, but without any guarantee of eventual black majority rule. However, after a British commission's hearings revealed widespread African opposition to the terms, Britain refused to recognize Rhodesian independence on the basis of the accord.

Nationalist Struggles

Two nationalist organizations, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo, operating from bases in Mozambique and Zambia, respectively, carried out guerrilla warfare campaigns against the white government throughout the 1970s. Smith appealed to right-wing politicians in the United States and Britain in a failed attempt to gain recognition for his government. In 1978, an “internal settlement” negotiated among Smith and three black leaders led to an interim coalition government. In 1979, a white-only referendum approved a new constitution and renamed the country Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa's coalition, the United African National Council, won the parliamentary elections. However, Muzorewa soon lost credibility as he sought aid from South Africa.

Self-Rule in Zimbabwe

Later in 1979, under pressure from Britain, an agreement was reached to provide for a legally independent, democratically governed Zimbabwe. A new constitution was established, and a cease-fire was implemented; Britain agreed to finance a voluntary land-redistribution program. The country reverted to British colonial rule until the transition to self-rule was complete. In the elections of Apr., 1980, Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF (Patriotic Front) party won by a comfortable margin, and he became prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe when independence was achieved on Apr. 18, 1980. More than 25,000 people had been killed in the struggle for independence.

In 1982, Mugabe ousted Nkomo from his cabinet and launched a campaign against supposed dissidents in the Matabeleland region, which was a stronghold of ZAPU support. Political repression, human-rights abuses, mass murders, and property burnings followed during a five-year campaign. A peace accord was finally negotiated in 1987, resulting in ZAPU's merger (1988) into the ZANU-PF and Nkomo's return to the government.

Mugabe was elected president in 1987 and reelected in 1990 and 1996. Once committed to Marxist principles, the ZANU-PF officially abandoned Marxism and with it controversial plans for a one-party state in 1991. A 1992 Land Acquisition Act intended to facilitate the redistribution of farmland from whites, who owned 70% of the land, to black farmers provoked strong protest from the white-dominated Commercial Farmers Union; implementation was also impeded by lack of government funds. In the multiparty parliamentary elections of 1995, which were boycotted by some parties, ZANU-PF won nearly all the seats against a weak and fragmented opposition.

In the 1990s, Mugabe's government was faced with high rates of inflation and unemployment, which continued into the next century. In addition, by 1997 one quarter of the population of Zimbabwe had been infected by HIV, the AIDS virus. The government's dispatch of troops in support of the Kabila regime in the Congo (Kinshasa) placed an added burden on national finances beginning in 1998. By the end of the 1990s, some two thirds to three quarters of the population was living in poverty. In the June, 2000, parliamentary elections, a new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), won 57 of the 120 elected seats with strong support from urban voters; ZANU-PF won 62 seats. The electoral setback ended the governing party's ability to unilaterally amend the constitution.

Land redistribution reemerged as a issue beginning in 1999. In 1998, Britain and other Western nations had agreed to help finance further land redistribution, but donors balked when Zimbabwe unilaterally announced an expansion of the land-reform program. A draft constitution that would have increased Mugabe's powers and permitted uncompensated seizure of white-owned farms was rejected in a Feb., 2000, referendum, but the government pressed forward with its land-redistribution agenda. The issue became increasingly divisive, as Mugabe exploited it for political gain and black squatters attacked white farmers. The constitution was amended to permit uncompensated seizure of farms, but the supreme court twice declared the government's land reform program illegal in part, rulings that Mugabe ignored. Mugabe supporters subsequently sought to intimidate the judiciary and succeeded in forcing the chief justice from office in Mar., 2001.

The government also pursued a policy of intimidating and harassing Mugabe's political opponents and the free press. The presidential election of Mar., 2002, in which Mugabe was reelected with 56% of the vote, was marred by violence and restrictions on the opposition and was widely criticized, although the Organization of African Unity termed the vote “free and fair.” Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was accused, prior to the election, of the plotting to kill Mugabe, and following the election he was tried but ultimately (Oct., 2004) acquitted. The Commonwealth of Nations suspended Zimbabwe for a year after the 2002 election.

Food shortages due to drought and the agricultural disruption caused by the seizure of white-owned farms led Mugabe to proclaim a state of disaster in April. In August the government ordered 2,900 white farmers to leave their farms, but more than half did not comply, and the police began arresting those who did not. By 2002 some 600 white farmers remained (out of a pre-redistribution total of 4,500; only 200 commercial farmers remained in 2005), mainly on smaller holdings. Political conditions remained unsettled in 2003, as opposition leaders called strikes in protest against Mugabe's rule and the government and its allies responded with arrests and small-scale violence. The economic situation was also bleak, with the country experiencing ongoing contraction and inflation that reached 600% in 2003.

In Jan., 2004, a banking scandal that involved corruption charges against a senior ZANU-PF official precipitated a run on several banks, and the following month Mugabe announced the establishment of an anticorruption ministry. A rift emerged in the ruling party in Jan., 2005, when a number of younger ZANU-PF officials were suspended after they opposed Mugabe's choice for second vice president. The dissension over the post, which is seen as a stepping-stone to the presidency, was regarded as a power struggle over who might succeed the president in 2008.

In the Mar., 2005, parliamentary elections ZANU-PF secured 78 seats, enough (with the 30 appointed by the president) to give it a two-thirds majority and the ability to unilaterally amend the constitution. The opposition MDC denounced the results as fraudulent, and accused the government of ballot stuffing based on large discrepancies between initial and final counts in rural districts. Most international observers also regarded the elections as unfair, although the Southern African Development Community endorsed the results. The country's economic situation remained difficult, and in May, 2005, the currency was devalved by 45%; Zimbabwe subsequently suffered from pronounced fuel shortages. In 2006, a government survey revealed that Zimbabwean living standards had dropped 150% from 1996 to 2005.

In May–July, 2005, the government began demolished illegal shantytowns and markets in Harare and other areas, displacing hundreds of thousands and further disrupting the economy. The move appeared intended to disperse Zimbabwe's urban poor, a group that has strongly supported Mugabe's opponents, The action was widely denounced as a violation of human rights and even provoked defections from the governing party.

In Sept., 2005, Mugabe signed constitutional amendments that reinstituted a national senate (abolished in 1987) and that nationalized all land, converting any ownership rights into leases. The amendments also ended the right of landowners to challenge government expropriation of land in the courts. Elections for the senate in November resulted in a victory for the government, but the MDC, which split over whether to field candidates, partially boycotted the vote, and the turnout was very low. The split in the MDC hardened into factions, each of which claimed control of the party. The early months of 2006 were marked by food shortages, which led to hyperinflation throughout the year; in Aug., 2006, the inflation forced the government to revalue its currency. In Dec., 2006, ZANU-PF proposed the “harmonization” of the parliamentary and presidential election schedules in 2010; the move was seen by the opposition as an excuse to extend Mugabe's term as president until 2010.

Continuing economic problems led to a series of strikes in Zimbabwe in early 2007, but a nationwide general strike in April had a low level of participation. In March a number of opposition leaders, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were severely beaten and arrested by the police. These acts provoked widespread international condemnation, but neighboring African leaders, meeting in Tanzania, did not publicly criticize Mugabe and called for removing international sanctions on Zimbabwe. At the same time, Mugabe's party chose him as its candidate for the 2008 presidential election.

Exploding hyperinflation led in June, 2007, to government-ordered price cuts on basic goods, which had the effect of making those goods scarce. In September, Mugabe banned price and pay increases in a further unsuccessful attempt to control hyperinflation. The government also enacted a law requiring majority indigenous Zimbabwean ownership of all businesses, and moved to force the last white farmers off their land. By the end of 2007, the official annual inflation rate exceeded 24,000%, but independent estimates ranged as high as 150,000%.

Despite government attempts to arrange the electoral process in its favor, the Mar., 2008, elections were a victory for the opposition, especially the main faction of the MDC, which won a plurality of the seats in the House of Assembly, narrowly edging ZANU-PF; the opposition also won half the elected seats in the Senate. The presidential results were not released, but Tsvangirai claimed victory; independent observers estimated that he had beaten Mugabe but failed to win the more than 50% required for outright victory. The MDC went to court to force the release of the presidential result, but the High Court refused to do so. The government, meantime, maneuvered to retain power, calling upon black Zimbabweans to oust the last remaining white farmers from their farms, challenging the results of a large number of parliamentary elections, and publicly describing Tsvangirai as treasonous.

Widespread violence against Tsvangirai's supporters and threats against Tsvangirai himself led the opposition leader to withdraw from the runoff and seek refuge in the Dutch embassy. In June Mugabe won his sixth term as president in a widely denounced election in which many voters were intimidated into casting ballots for Mugabe. Zimbabwe's economy, meanwhile, continued to deteriorate, with inflation officially at 231 million% in July. In Aug., 2008, the country again revalued its currency as a result. A power-sharing agreement was reached between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in September, under which Tsvangirai would be prime minister, but further talks and progress stalled over the division of cabinet posts.

A cholera epidemic began in Aug., 2008; it also affected other S African nations but was aggravated in Zimbabwe by the collapse of the health and sanitation services. By May, 2009, when it ended in Zimbabwe, some 4,300 people had died there from the disease; 90% of the reported deaths from the regional epidemic occurred in Zimbabwe. In Nov., 2008, the regional South African Development Community (SADC) tribunal ruled that Zimbabwe's seizures of land from white farmers had been discriminatory and that those farmers who had sued could retain their farms. The government indicated that it would ignore the SADC ruling, and subsequently accelerated the seizure of most of the remaining white-owned farms; in June, 2009, the tribunal held the government in breach and contempt, and ordered the matter be reported to the next SADC summit. The SADC ruling subsequently was used in South Africa to sue for seizure of Zimbabwe-owned commercial property there in compensation for the seizure of white-owned farmland. Seizures of foreign-owned farms led to compensation judgments against the government by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Meanwhile, the power-sharing government was finally established in Feb., 2009, but Mugabe's resistance to cooperating with the opposition led to recurring tensions. In March there were signs that Zimbabwe's runaway inflation had slowed, largely due to the government's having tied the currency to the dollar and rand; also the currency had again been revalued. The next month, however, the Zimbabwean dollar was in effect abandoned, and replaced by the rand, U.S. dollar, euro, Botswanan pula, and British pound (additional currencies were adopted for use in 2014). Tsvangirai subsequently secured some $500 million in aid from various countries, but Western nations avoided providing aid directly to the government because of ongoing farm seizures and arrests of opposition activists; promises of loans worth $950 million were also obtained from China.

In July, 2009, a Kimberly Process review cited the government for violations of diamond mining standards (including the illegal mining and selling of diamonds by the military) in the Marange district and called for the government to comply with the standards. A year later, after another review failed in June, 2010, to reach a consensus on approving the diamonds for sale, limited diamond sales were approved by the World Diamond Council. In Nov., 2011, the ban on sales was lifted despite objections from human rights groups. Mugabe's opponents also objected, saying that diamond sales were enriching Mugabe and his close supporters at the expense of Zimbabwe.

The ongoing tensions within the government increased significantly in Oct., 2009, after a prominent MDC official was arrested and Tsvangirai and the MDC boycotted the unity government in response. The MDC returned to the cabinet in Nov., 2009, after regional talks and the appointment of South Africa's President Zuma as mediator, but the parties essentially remained stalemated in subsequent months, with the MDC continuing to charge Mugabe with violations of the power-sharing agreement. Additional mediation failed to resolve the situation, and intimidation and arrests of opposition parties and activists worsened in 2011.

Progess toward a new constitution proceeded slowly, but early in 2013 the main parties agreed on a final draft, which was overwhelming approved in a referendum in March. Subsequently, the European Union eased the sanctions it had imposed on the country. In June, the constitutional court ordered that new elections be held before the end of July. In the subsequent elections, Mugabe was reelected and ZANU-PF won a two-thirds majority in parliament. Tsvangirai accused the government of rigging the vote. Western nations said that there were serious irregularities, but African nations generally supported the result.

In late 2014 Vice President Joice Mujuru was accused of plotting against Mugabe, charges she denied, but Mugabe dismissed her and others in the cabinet who were accused of supporting her. Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time associate of Mugabe's who had himself been accused of plotting against the president a decade before, was appointed first vice president. Mugabe's wife, Grace, who was regarded as having helped engineer the changes, was appointed head of the ZANU-PF's women's league. Opposing factions subsequently developed around the two leaders, leading to significant tensions within the ZANU-PF by 2016. The country also experienced increasing economic and financial difficulties in 2016, which to antigovernment protests.

In Nov., 2017, Mugabe dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in what was seen as preparation for appointing Grace Mugabe to the post. The army seized control of Harare and placed the Mugabes under house arrest; after negotiations, Mugabe's removal as ZANU-PF leader, and a move by parliament to impeach him, Mugabe resigned as president. Mnangagwa succeeded him, and appointed a cabinet consisting of ZANU-PF loyalists and military officers. In June, 2018, Mnangagwa survived an apparent bomb attack at a rally.

The July elections resulted in Mnangagwa's winning the presidency and a landslide parliamentary majority for the ZANU-PF, though the party lost some seats. The MDC was hurt by a party split that resulted after Tsvangirai died earlier in 2018, but the election was also marred by some irregularities. MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa accused the ZANU-PF of fraud, and there were violent clashes between opposition supporters and security forces after the results were announced.

In Jan., 2019, sharp increases in fuel prices led to protests that became violent clashes with security forces. The government accused the opposition and other activists of fomenting violence and seeking to force political change, and arrested a number of opposition and activist leaders and hundreds of protesters; security forces were accused of using excessive force. The price increases were symptomatic of Zimbabwe's economic problems, which continued during 2019.

A tropical cyclone that devastated parts of neighboring Mozambique and Malawi in March also severely affected parts of E Zimbabwe. In June, Zimbabwe began compensating white farmers for improvements to land the government had seized; that same month, the Zimbabwe dollar again became the country's only legal tender. By August, the country's economic crisis had led to hyperinflation. In 2020, the supreme court ruled that Chamisa had become MDC leader illegaly, and made Thokozani Khupe, who had been elected an MDC vice president in 2014 and now headed a separate MDC-descended party, the party president. She then sought to replace a number of MDC members of parliament. At the end of the year, Douglas Mwonzora was elected MDC president. Also, in 2020, the government's continuing crackdown on protests and dissent led to recurring accusations, both nationally and internationally, of human-rights abuses.


See L. H. Gann, A History of Southern Rhodesia: Early Days to 1934 (1969); G. Kay, Rhodesia: A Human Geography (1970); D. Martin and P. Johnson, The Struggle for Zimbabwe (1981); M. G. Schatzberg, ed., The Political Economy of Zimbabwe (1984); C. Stoneman and L. Cliffer, Zimbabwe (1988); J. Herbst, State Politics in Zimbabwe (1990); P. Godwin, The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe (2011).


, ruined city, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, ruined city, SE Zimbabwe: see Great Zimbabwe.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) An archaeological culture in southern Africa that was widespread in the region between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It existed during the Neolithic period and the Early and Later Iron Age in southern Africa (sixth century to the 18th century). The culture was named after the archaeological complex Great Zimbabwe discovered in 1868. This complex consists of an “acropolis” (surrounded by a wall of natural boulders) on which huts and columns with images of birds and crocodiles were found; an elliptical building (“temple”) with a wall of granite blocks and an interior corridor and a conical tower in the northern portion; and the “valley ruins” with remains of round huts and stone walls. In subsequent years, up to 400 similar remains have been discovered (Dhlo-Dhlo, Inyanga, Ruzape). Characteristic of the Zimbabwe culture are irregularly shaped stone buildings (up to 100 m in diameter) with walls built dry (up to 9 m in height). In the courtyards of these structures, the remains of huts of the usual southern African type have been preserved. Very old agricultural terraces and mines for the extraction of metals have been discovered. Objects found include iron implements and weapons, gold ornaments, and modeled pottery polished with graphite, as well as imported dishes and glass beads. The Zimbabwe culture was created by the ancestors of the contemporary Bantu peoples. The early class kingdom of the Monomotapa Bantus arose on the basis of the Zimbabwe culture in the 14th century.


Fadeev, L. A. “Problema proiskhozhdeniia kul’tury Zimbabve.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1960, no. 2.
Wieschhoff, H. A. The Zimbabwe-Monomotapa Culture in South-East Africa. Banta, 1941.
Paver, B. G. Zimbabwe Cavalcade. London, 1957.
(2) The African name of southern Rhodesia, adopted in the 1960’s by activists of the national liberation struggle against the racist regime in that country.



(formerly Rhodesia), a country in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe is bordered on the north and northwest by Zambia, on the east by Mozambique, on the southwest by Botswana, and on the south by the Republic of South Africa. Area, 391,000 sq km. Population, 6.74 million (1977). The capital is Salisbury. Zimbabwe is divided into seven provinces.

Constitution and government. In accordance with the constitution of 1979, Zimbabwe is a sovereign republic. The head of state is the president, elected by Parliament for a five-year term. A legislative body whose members have a five-year term of office, Parliament consists of a senate (40 members) and a house of assembly (100 deputies, 80 of whom are elected by black constituencies and 20 by white constituencies).

Natural features, TERRAIN. Most of Zimbabwe is occupied by the Matabele and Mashonaland highlands, which have a uniform, gently rolling surface; they have elevations of 800–1,500 m. The highest peak in Zimbabwe is Mount Inyangani (2,596 m), in the east. In the north the plateau descends in steps to the Zambezi River valley; in the south it slopes gradually toward the Limpopo River valley.

GEOLOGICAL STRUCTURE AND MINERAL RESOURCES. Zimbabwe lies on the African Platform, which is actually a craton (see: Geological structure and minerals). Most of the country is occupied by the Zimbabwe (Rhodesian) massif, a basement outcrop between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers that is bounded on the east by the deep-seated Manica fault, along which the Mozambique mobile belt extends, and on the north by the Zambezi mobile belt. The extremely old (ancient Archean) basement rocks are granite-gneisses, schists, quartzites, jaspilites, and volcanic rocks, cut by granites, veins of pegmatite, and basic and ultrabasic rocks. The Zimbabwe massif is dissected by a tension fault, along which the Great Dyke (2.5 billion years old) intruded for a length of more than 500 km and a width of about 10 km. In addition to norites, the Great Dyke is composed of ser-pentinized pyroxenites with chromites, nickel, and platinum. The sedimentary mantle is represented by formations of the Proterozoic (sandstones, shales, and limestones), the Upper Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic (the Karroo system), and the Cenozoic (latentes, clays, conglomerates, and eolian and other sands). Kim-berlites and carbonatites are also present.

The Great Dyke contains deposits with considerable reserves of chromites (550 million tons at the beginning of 1975), platinum, and magnatites. The large Bikita deposit, with ores containing tantalite and beryl, is associated with lithium pegmatites. Other important mineral resources include asbestos; gold, copper and nickel ores; and the coal deposits of the Karroo system, notably those of the Wankie coalfields


CLIMATE. Zimbabwe’s climate is subequatorial in the northern half of the country and tropical in the southern half. Winds from the ocean have only limited access because the eastern margin of the country is elevated; consequently, Zimbabwe exhibits features of a continental climate. In October, the warmest month, the mean temperature is 21°–27°C; in July, the coolest month, the mean temperature is 10°–17°C. In the highest regions, frosts occur in winter. The annual precipitation ranges from 300–750 mm in the southwest to 1,250 mm in the east. The length of the rainy season ranges from three months in the south to five months in the north.

RIVERS AND LAKES. Zimbabwe has a fairly dense network of rivers, which belong to the Zambezi and Limpopo basins; the principal river of the Zambezi basin is the Gwai. The headwaters of the Sabi River, which flows into the Indian Ocean, are in the east. Most of the rivers have rapids and transport little water, especially in the west and southwest; during the dry season, they evaporate almost entirely. Lake Kariba, a large reservoir, lies in the valley of the Zambezi’s middle course; the Kariba Dam is owned jointly by Zimbabwe and Zambia.

SOILS AND FLORA. On the plateau, the predominant type of vegetation is savanna thin forests, in which Brachystegia on cinnamonred soils predominate; the savanna thin forests alternate with tracts of grassland. In the southwest are dry savannas, with a sparse cover of densely matted grasses and an extensive distribution of thickets of thorny shrubs and low trees, primarily acacias. The eastern slopes of the Inyanga Mountains are covered by evergreen rainforests and mountain meadows.

FAUNA. The fauna, which is typical of the savannas and thin forests of Africa, has been considerably reduced by extermination. Antelope, Cape buffalo, giraffes, zebras, leopards, and hyenas are found in the sparsely populated regions. There are many birds, lizards, and snakes, including the African python and several types of poisonous snakes. Various species of ants and termites are common. Many regions are infested by the tsetse fly.

National parks have been established to protect the flora and fauna, the largest of which are the Wankie and Victoria Falls national parks.

Population. According to a 1975 estimate, more than 95 percent of the population is made up of Bantu-speaking African peoples: the Mashona, Matabele, Malawi (Nyanja), Tsonga, Bavenda, Bapedi (Pedi), and Bechuana (Tswana). Persons of European descent account for less than 5 percent of the population. Asians are represented by a small number of Indians. The official language is English. Most Africans adhere to traditional local beliefs; there are also Christians—Protestants and Catholics. Zimbabwe uses the Gregorian calendar.

Between 1970 and 1975 the population grew at an average annual rate of 3.3 percent. As of December 1976, the economically active population totaled 1,043,000; 34.6 percent of that number was employed in agriculture, 6.2 percent in mining, 14.5 percent in manufacturing, 7 percent in construction, and 4 percent in transportation.

In 1977 the average population density was 17 persons per sq km. In 1976 the urban population amounted to 19.4 percent of the total. Zimbabwe’s main cities are Salisbury, which, with its suburbs, had a population of 656,000 in 1976, and Bulawayo, which had a population of 340,000.

Historical survey. Evidence of the first human settlements in Zimbabwe dates from the Paleolithic. The Mwene Matapa state, which developed from the Zimbabwe culture in the 14th century, flourished in the second half of the 15th century; it was destroyed in 1693 by the Rozwi tribes of the Mashona group. The Matabele and Mashona tribes, which began migrating to Zimbabwe from South Africa in the early 19th century, had by the mid-19th century united under the supreme chief Mzilikazi, who ruled from 1823 to 1868.

In the late 19th century the British South Africa Company seized the area between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers—Southern Rhodesia—and the area north of the Zambezi—Northern Rhodesia. Until 1923 the company controlled, by virtue of a royal charter granted in 1889, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, which were named after the company’s founder, C. Rhodes. The Africans put up armed resistance against the colonialists. They fought with particular stubbornness in the war of 1893 and the revolt of the Matabele in 1896 and 1897, both of which ended in victory for the British, who enjoyed an enormous military and technological advantage.

Driven from their lands, the Africans migrated to areas less favorable for agriculture, where reserves were established for them. During the 1890’s, European farms of the capitalist type appeared in Rhodesia, and railroad construction began. In the early 20th century, as the mining industry underwent development, expropriation of the Africans’ lands increased. The social differentiation of the African population accelerated. In increasing numbers, Africans left the farms, and a working class began to form. In 1924 the first African trade union in Rhodesia—the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union—was founded.

In 1923, Southern Rhodesia acquired the status of a self-governing colony. The first constitution was adopted, under which the nominally universal right to elect members to the supreme legislative body was limited to those who met severe property and educational qualifications. For all practical purposes, the African population was deprived of the right to vote: in the voters’ rolls for 1923 there were 26,629 Europeans and 62 Africans; while the constitution was in effect, not one African was elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Between the two world wars, the influx of European immigrants to Southern Rhodesia increased; at the same time, the economic and political oppression of the African population intensified. The white minority governments carried out a policy of racial discrimination against the African population, a policy that was given legal sanction by the Land Apportionment Act (1930) and the Industrial Conciliation Act (1934). The former set aside special regions in which land could be owned and used only by Europeans; the latter established artificially high wage rates for European workers. During World War II there was an increase in the size of the working class; in 1946 the number of African workers reached 363,000. African workers became more active politically, and the number of strikes increased.

In 1953 the British government, seeking to consolidate British colonialism in Central Africa, joined Southern Rhodesia with the protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved in 1963 (seeZAMBIA and MALAWI). In the mid-1950’s political activity by Africans declined, for two reasons: they were subjected to increased terror, and their campaign to resist the seizure of Africans’ land by whites ended in failure. The leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) in Southern Rhodesia, a mass African political organization that had been formed shortly before World War II, adopted a resolution that provided for its own dissolution. Reestablished in 1957, the ANC advocated the dissolution of the federation and opposed the racist laws; it fought to bring about changes in agrarian legislation and to improve the economic state of African workers. In 1960 the National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed from the ANC, which had been banned the previous year; the NDP was the first organization to call for a universal franchise based on the principle of one man, one vote.

In their struggle against the growing national liberation movement, the colonialists combined the use of terror with deft maneuvering. In 1960 the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act was adopted; it affirmed the government’s right to deprive the African population of the freedoms of speech, press, and assembly. In 1961 the government banned the NDP; within a few days the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) was formed from the NDP. In 1962, the ZAPU was banned; it went underground, after announcing that it would seek to overthrow the racist regime by armed force. A similar policy was adopted by the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), founded in 1963 by former members of the ZAPU. At this time, the authorities declared their intention to soften a number of discriminatory laws. Under the constitution of 1961, the African majority was given its first representation in the Legislative Assembly—15 members out of 65.

The elections of 1962, which the ZAPU boycotted, were won by the Rhodesian Front, an extreme right-wing racist party that had been formed in 1961. On Nov. 11, 1965, the government of Ian Smith, leader of the Rhodesian Front, unilaterally declared the country independent of Great Britain. Numerous countries, including Great Britain, refused to recognize Southern Rhodesia’s independence. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions: a partial embargo was imposed in 1966, and a total embargo in 1968. Many western countries, however, continually violated the Security Council resolutions, and South Africa and the fascist government that held power in Portugal until April 1974 refused to carry out the resolutions.

Great Britain attempted on several occasions to resolve the Southern Rhodesian conflict by means of negotiations with the Smith regime. In 1971, Britain’s Conservative government proposed a constitutional settlement that encountered determined resistance by the organizations representing the African majority. In October 1976 the ZAPU and ZANU agreed to form the Patriotic Front (PF), led by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. In 1977 the PF was recognized by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as the sole organization leading the national liberation struggle in Southern Rhodesia. The PF declared that it would combine political, diplomatic, and military forms of struggle; it regarded armed conflict as crucial to overthrowing the racist regime.

In 1976 an American-British plan, known as the Kissinger plan, was worked out; under the proposal, African majority rule would be established within two years, but the racist regime would, for all intents and purposes, retain the right to decide major questions during the transitional period. The plan was discussed at a conference in Geneva in October 1976, in which African organizations took part; Smith’s policy, however, caused the talks to break down.

In 1977 a new Anglo-American plan for a constitutional settlement was put forward. A general election was to be held, and the government of an independent Zimbabwe was to be formed, by the end of 1978 under the aegis of Great Britain and the supervision of the UN. The PF would not be allowed to take part in the interim administration, but its armed forces were to be put under the control of a British resident commissioner. Although the PF was compelled to accept the plan as the basis for further negotiations, it sought to have the plan radically revised.

In February 1978 an “internal settlement” was reached between Smith and the leaders of the more moderate African organizations: a faction of the ZANU led by N. Sithole; the United African National Council, led by A. Muzorewa; and the Zimbabwe United People’s Organization, led by J. Chirau. Under the agreement a transitional government, headed by an executive council that included Ian Smith and the three leaders named above, was established. All the principal instruments of power—the army, police, and courts—remained completely controlled by the white racists. The UN Security Council and the OAU declared the internal settlement invalid.

Great Britain did not recognize the internal settlement either and suggested a constitutional conference be held. The London conference of 1979 produced documents that made provision for a political settlement of the Zimbabwe problem. For the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, 2.8 million Africans took part in the elections. As a result of the elections, the first Zimbabwean government, headed by ZANU president Robert Mugabe, was formed in March 1980. On Apr. 18, 1980, Zimbabwe proclaimed its independence.


Davidson, A. B. Matabele i mashona v bor’beprotiv angliiskoi kolonizatsii 1888–1897. Moscow, 1958.
Demkina, L. A. Krakh Federatsii Rodezii i N’iasalenda. Moscow, 1965.
Good, R. C. UDI: The Internal Politics of the Rhodesian Rebellion. London, 1973.
Leys, C. European Politics in Southern Rhodesia. Oxford, 1959.
Shamuyarira, N. Crisis in Rhodesia. New York, 1966.
Windrich, E. The Rhodesian Problem: A Documentary Record, 1923–1973. London-Boston, 1975.
Political parties, public organizations, and trade unions. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) was founded in 1963 as a result of a split in the ZAPU. The Patriotic Front, formerly the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), was founded in 1961. Other political parties are the United African National Council, founded in 1971; the Zimbabwe Democratic Party, founded in 1979; the Zimbabwe National Front, founded in 1979; and the National Democratic Union, founded in 1979. The Republican Front, founded in 1961, is the party of the European population.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was founded in 1980.
Economic geography. Zimbabwe is an agricultural and industrial country that is dependent on foreign capital. In 1980 the gross domestic product (GDP) was Z$2,900,000,000 in current prices for that year. Of this amount, agriculture accounted for 13 percent, mining for 8.5 percent, manufacturing for 26 percent, and transportation and communications for 7.3 percent. There is a European and an African economy. The European economy encompasses industry and most large-scale commodity agriculture; white agriculture accounts for 11.9 percent of the GDP. The African economy, which employs most of the country’s population, includes various types of peasant farms, which produce 5.7 percent of the GDP.
Foreign capital—British, American, and South African controlling 70 percent of the economy—plays an especially important role in the mining industry, where it owns all the leading companies involved in the exploration for and extraction of basic mineral resources. Virtually all the large and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises and some of the largest farms and plantations belong to foreign capitalists. The enterprises owned by state monopoly capital are primarily those of the infrastructure, such as railroad enterprises, domestic airways, and electric power stations. The state also purchases and markets certain types of agricultural commodities. Capital of Zimbabweans of European descent is most evident in agriculture and the retail trade; this group also owns some of the smaller manufacturing enterprises.
AGRICULTURE. As of 1977, plowed land and land in perennial crops accounted for 6 percent of the country’s area, meadows and pastures for 12 percent, and forests and shrubs for 61 percent. European farms comprised half the cultivated land and produced about 80 percent of the agricultural commodities.
In 1961, the 7,064 European farms occupied a total of 13.96 million hectares (ha), an average of 1,975 ha per farm; the 430,500 African farms occupied 15.62 million ha. European agriculture is represented primarily by the large farms of the colonists, which produce grain, meat, and dairy products for the domestic market and tobacco for export. Foreign-owned plantations produce, in addition to the crops mentioned above, sugarcane, tea, and citrus fruits. In 1962 the European farms accounted for 100 percent of the country’s output of sugarcane, tea, potatoes, wheat, and citrus fruits, 99 percent of its tobacco, 90 percent of its maize for the commodity trade, 44 percent of its cattle, 54 percent of its sheep, and 53 percent of its swine.
African agriculture is represented primarily by peasant farms but also by medium-sized capitalist farms that use hired labor and modern machinery. The main types of output are maize, millet, peanuts, legumes, cotton, and livestock products.
The 1976 harvest was 1.4 million tons of maize, 85,000 tons of tobacco, 90,000 tons of wheat, 5,000 tons of rice, 39,000 tons of lint cotton, 120,000 tons of peanuts, 2,716,000 tons of sugarcane, 3,000 tons of tea, and 32,000 tons of citrus fruits. In 1976 there were 5.7 million cattle (3.125 million owned by Africans), 748,000 sheep (518,000 owned by Africans), and 192,000 swine (96,000 owned by Africans).
In 1975, there were 19,000 tractors and 480 combines in use, most of them on European farms. In the forests there are small logging enterprises; about 6 million cu m of roundwood were produced in 1975.
INDUSTRY. Mining is one of the leading branches of the economy. The principal mineral raw materials are intended for export. There are large gold mines in the Gwanda, Bulawayo, Hartley, and Lomagundi areas. Asbestos is mined at Shabani, Mashaba, and Filabusi. Chromites are mined in the Gwelo and Fort Victoria regions, with the deposits of the Selukwe group playing a major role; despite UN sanctions that prohibited the export of chromites from Rhodesia, the USA and certain other Western powers made purchases. Since 1956 copper has been mined in the Sinoia region. Coal is mined at the Wankie coalfields, and nickel in the Salisbury area: north of the city, near Bindura, and southwest of the city, near Gatooma.
In 1975, 3.5 million tons of coal were extracted. Other figures for mining output were as follows: 500,000 tons of iron ore, with an iron content of 60 percent; 165,000 tons of asbestos; 400,000 tons of chrome ores, with a Cr203 content of 45–50 percent; 20 tons of gold; 20,000 tons of magnetite; 32,000 tons of copper, in concentrates (the copper content of the ore is 0.6–2.4 percent); 12,000 tons of nickel, in concentrates (the nickel content of the ore is 0.75–0.95 percent); 200 tons of tungsten, in concentrates (the content of W03 is 0.9–1.5 percent); and 300 tons of antimony, in concentrates. In 1975 the country’s power plants had a total capacity of 1,192 megawatts (MW), of which 705 MW were accounted for by the Kariba Hydroelectric Plant, on the right bank of the Zambezi River. In 1976, 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity were produced.
Metallurgy, metalworking, and the textile industry underwent development during World War II, the electrical engineering and chemical industries in the postwar years, and machine building—the assembly of motor vehicles and railroad cars—in the late 1950’s. Most enterprises are located in Salisbury, which has enterprises of the machine-building, chemical, textile, and food-processing industries, and in Bulawayo, which has enterprises of the machine-building, textile, and food-processing industries. Other industrial centers are Que Que (ferrous metallurgy), Gatooma (textiles), Umtali (automotive assembly and petrochemistry), Gwelo (production of ferrochrome), and Alaska (copper smelting and refining).
In 1977 the country produced 300,000 tons of pig iron and ferrous alloys, 24,000 tons of copper, 270,000 tons of steel, 541,000 tons of cement, 255,000 tons of coke, 44,500 tons of superphosphate, 255,000 tons of sugar, and 4 billion cigarettes.
TRANSPORTATION. In 1974 the country had 2,564 km of railroad lines. In mid-1977 there were 78,841 km of roads, 8,527 of which were hard-surfaced. In 1974 the country had 180,000 cars and 70,000 other motor vehicles. Zimbabwe is linked by air with the countries of Africa and Europe.
FOREIGN TRADE. In 1980, exports totaled US$1.4 billion and imports USS1.3 billion. The chief exports are tobacco, gold, asbestos, chromites, nickel, ferrochrome, and copper. Zimbabwe’s principal trading partner is South Africa. Great Britain, the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan continued to trade with Zimbabwe. In 1976, 140,000 tourists visited the country, primarily from South Africa.
The monetary unit is the Zimbabwe dollar (Z$).
Armed forces. The armed forces of Zimbabwe comprise an army and an air force, under the direct control of the minister of defense. In 1977 the regular armed forces totaled about 10,000 men. The army, with 8,200 men, consists of three infantry battalions, a paratroop battalion, and artillery, engineer, and other units. Weaponry is foreign-made. The air force of 1,300 men is organized into squadrons, with a total of 48 combat airplanes.
Medicine and public health. According to data of the World Health Organization for 1977, the birthrate among the white population in 1973 was 16 per 1,000 inhabitants, the mortality rate was 7.6 per 1,000, and infant mortality was 21.1 per 1,000 live births. In 1962 the average life expectancy for the colored population was 48 years for men and 49 years for women; for the white population, the corresponding figures for the period 1961–63 were 66.9 and 74. Demographic data on the health of Africans are lacking. Infectious and parasitic diseases, which are widespread, include tuberculosis, trachoma, typhoid fever, and leprosy.
In 1974 there were 253 hospitals, with a total of 19,300 beds (3.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), including 106 state hospitals, with a total of 11,000 beds, and 147 private hospitals, with a total of 8,300 beds. In 1973 there were about 1,035 physicians (one physician per 5,700 inhabitants), 2,300 assistant physicians, 162 dentists, 329 pharmacists, and about 10,000 other medical personnel. Physicians are trained at the medical faculty of the University of Zimbabwe; the state central hospital in Salisbury and Bulawayo train registered nurses and midwives. In 1971, expenditures on health care constituted 5.7 percent of the state budget.
Veterinary services. The most serious threat to the country’s animal population is posed by trypanosomiasis of cattle, which is carried by the tsetse fly; diseases carried by ticks; helminthiases (cysticercosis, echinococcosis, fascioliasis, and filariasis); and infectious diseases (foot-and-mouth disease and rabies). Theileriasis, piroplasmosis, and anaplasmosis are widespread. Cases have been registered of such diseases as brucellosis, tuberculosis, blackleg, malignant catarrhal fever, viral diarrhea, fowl pox, distemper, African horse sickness, bluetongue, contagious and nodular dermatitis, leptospirosis, mycoplasmosis, coccidiosis, sal-monellosis, vibrionic dysentery, trichmoniasis, fowl leukosis, botulism, vibriosis, mange, ulcerative lymphangitis, actinomycosis, paratuberculosis, fowl pasteurellosis, spirochetosis, enzootic ovine abortion, and foot rot.
Veterinary services are under the jurisdiction of the government, which has passed a law on animal health care. The government has focused its attention on combating diseases that cause widespread harm. A policy of setting up cordons is being implemented; in addition, free zones and quarantine camps are being established within the country and on the borders. In 1976 the country had 112 veterinarians, who are helped in their work by ranchers’ organizations. Veterinarians are educated abroad. There is a veterinary research laboratory in Salisbury.
Education. Before the declaration of independence in 1980, education was organized according to the principles of racial discrimination. All the general-education institutions have been placed under the jurisdiction of the ministry of education. A law on compulsory eight-year education passed in 1956 has not been fully implemented. Primary education lasts five years. Children between the ages of five and seven attend preparatory classes attached to a number of primary schools.
Secondary education, which lasts six years and covers the age group 12–18, comprises two stages: a four-year junior stage and a two-year senior stage. On completing the senior stage, the student may enter a higher educational institution. Instruction in the senior secondary schools is divided into three tracks: academic, technical, and agricultural.
In the 1978–79 academic year there were 2,962 primary schools with a total enrollment of more than 838,000; 186 secondary schools with a total enrollment of about 72,000; and 60 evening and part-time schools with a total enrollment of more than 6,500. Vocational-technical education has received little development. Specialized secondary educational institutions accept graduates from the junior stage of the secondary schools. In the 1980–81 academic year there were two colleges of agriculture; the Bulawayo Technical College, with an enrollment of 2,600; two colleges of music; and the Salisbury School of Art.
The main higher educational institution is the University of Zimbabwe in Salisbury; founded in 1955, it had an enrollment of 2,300 in the 1980–81 academic year. The university has faculties of arts, engineering, education, medicine, commerce and law, science, social studies, and agriculture. Attached to the university are the Centre for Applied Social Sciences, the Computer Centre, the Hydrobiology Research Unit, the Institute of Adult Education, the Institute of Education, the Institute of Mining Research, the Institute for Social Research, the Nuffield Lake Kariba Research Station, the Regional and Urban Planning Centre, and the Science Education Centre. The system of higher education also includes Salisbury Polytechnic; founded in 1927, it had an enrollment of 5,000 in the 1980–81 academic year.
Zimbabwe’s libraries include the Library of Parliament (100,000 volumes in 1980), the National Free Library of Zimbabwe (70,000 volumes), the Public Library (65,000 volumes), the Queen Victoria Memorial Library (60,000 volumes), the University of Zimbabwe Library (302,000 volumes), and the National Archives.
Press, radio, and television. In 1978 there were two daily newspapers and 60 other periodical publications. The daily newspapers are the Herald (since 1892; until 1978, the Rhodesia Herald; circulation 32,600), published in Salisbury, and the Chronicle (since 1894; circulation 77,500), published in Bulawayo. Other periodicals include the Sunday newspaper the Sunday Mail (since 1935; circulation 89,500); the weekly newspaper the Citizen (since 1953), the organ of the Republican Front; and the monthly journal the Outpost (since 1911; circulation 8,000). All three periodicals are published in Salisbury.
The privately-owned Inter-African News Agency, founded in 1964, was a branch of South Africa’s news agency, the South African Press Association.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, founded in 1964, controls radio and television broadcasts. Programs are carried in English and three indigenous languages: Sindebele, the language of the Matabele, Cishona, the language of the Shona, and Nyanja. Television was introduced in 1960.
Architecture and art. The most ancient archaeological finds, which date from the Paleolithic, are primarily petroglyphs executed with the world’s first pencils, found in the Bambata Cave in the Matopo Hills. The pencils, brown sticks of hematite, were used to create outline drawings or small tinted depictions of humans and animals, as well as ritual scenes associated with the ceremonies of the peoples of Zimbabwe. In the 19th century the ruins of stone complexes, notably the Zimbabwe and Dhlo-Dhlo complexes, were discovered. The layout of modern settlements recalls that of the ancient complexes: residential and farm structures surrounded by pisé walls. Housing types include a circular hut with a conical roof. In the late 19th century, cities developed; they were laid out on a grid pattern, and brick buildings of only a few stories predominated. Since the 1950’s, European-style multistory buildings have been erected.
Zimbabwe’s leading painters include J. Ndandarika, S. Songo, and T. Mukorombogwo, who have produced realistic works, primarily landscapes and genre studies, imbued with a love for the people and the natural surroundings of their country. Such sculptors as T. Dube, Y. Likoto, and B. Mteki have sought to preserve the images and traditional features of African plastic arts.
Highly developed handicrafts are woodcarving (domestic utensils), pottery (pots and pitchers painted with geometric designs), and basketry.
Music. The musical culture of Zimbabwe includes the music of the southeastern Bantu-speaking peoples, such as the Mashona, Matabele, and Tsonga; the central and western Bantu-speaking peoples; and the population of European descent. The most common musical instrument is the mbira, a linguaphone that is known by various other names, such as njari and nyanja. It is frequently used in ensembles; in a number of cases, performance on the mbira forms part of specific rituals. Among the virtuosos of the mbira are D. A. Mareir and L. C. Sukatai.
Of particular interest is the music of the Mashona, whose choral singing is characterized by a highly developed vocal polyphony that often takes the form of a canon. In the distinctive choral music of the Matabele, who sing in the Nguni language, a major role is played by polyphony and polyrhythm. Since the second half of the 20th century, the wide dissemination of Western mass culture has brought about a decline in the traditions of folk music.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (founded 1968) and its division the Salisbury Arts Council deal with questions involving the culture of the white minority. They schedule concerts and arrange appearances by foreign artists on tour. The principal music education institutions are the Zimbabwe College of Music (founded 1948), in Salisbury, and the Kwanongoma College of Music, in Bulawayo.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Zimbabwe

Capital city: Harare

Internet country code: .zw

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 represents mineral wealth, red symbolizes blood shed to achieve independ­ence, and black stands for the native people

Geographical description: Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia

Total area: 150,760 sq. mi. (390,580 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; moderated by altitude; rainy season (November to March)

Nationality: noun: Zimbabwean(s); adjective: Zimbabwean

Population: 12,311,143 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: African 98% (Shona 82%, Ndebele 14%, other 2%), mixed and Asian 1%, white less than 1%

Languages spoken: English (official), Shona, Sindebele (the language of the Ndebele, sometimes called Ndebele), numerous but minor tribal dialects

Religions: Syncretic Christian and indigenous religions 50%, Christian 25%, indigenous religions 24%, Muslim and other 1%

Legal Holidays:

Africa DayMay 25
Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Defense Forces DayAug 12
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
General Elections DayMar 29
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Heroes' DayAug 11
Holy SaturdayApr 23, 2011; Apr 7, 2012; Mar 30, 2013; Apr 19, 2014; Apr 4, 2015; Mar 26, 2016; Apr 15, 2017; Mar 31, 2018; Apr 20, 2019; Apr 11, 2020; Apr 3, 2021; Apr 16, 2022; Apr 8, 2023
Independence DayApr 18
Labour DayMay 1
National Unity DayDec 22
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a country in SE Africa, formerly a self-governing British colony founded in 1890 by the British South Africa Company, which administered the country until a self-governing colony was established in 1923; joined with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963; made a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) under the leadership of Ian Smith in 1965 on the basis of White minority rule; proclaimed a republic in 1970; in 1976 the principle of Black majority rule was accepted and in 1978 a transitional government was set up; gained independence under Robert Mugabe in 1980; effectively a one-party state since 1987; a member of the Commonwealth until 2003, when it withdrew as a result of conflict with other members. Official language: English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: Zimbabwe dollar. Capital: Harare. Pop.: 12 932 000 (2004 est.). Area: 390 624 sq. km (150 820 sq. miles)
2. a ruined fortified settlement in Zimbabwe, which at its height, in the 15th century, was probably the capital of an empire covering SE Africa
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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