The colony of Southern Rhodesia declared its independence on the 11th of September 1965, though this was not recognized by the United Kingdom. International and political pressure and a guerrilla uprising led to full independence being granted on the 18th of April 1980 with Robert Mugabe as the country’s first Prime Minister. He became president in 1987 and remained as the country’s sole president winning the 2002 elections regarded by many international observers as widely flawed.
There were also many reports of opposition candidates and supporters being harassed, detained or being beaten up. President Mugabe is seen by many as one of the most controversial leaders of the 21st Century. One of his most notably acts is the land reforms which began in 2000. The reforms were aimed at redistributing land obtained from the mainly white farmers to indigenous Zimbabweans. This was widely condemned by the international community and resulted in food shortages which further hurt the ailing Zimbabwean economy.
Administration: Zimbabwe is divided into eight provinces (Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands) and the cities of Harare and Bulawayo which have provincial status.
Zimbabwe has a population of 12, 236, 805 people. The Shona and Ndebele are the main ethnic groups here accounting for about 98 % of the country’s population. There are also small populations of Asians and Europeans concentrated mainly in Harare and Bulawayo. English is the official language of the country and is fluently spoken by many Zimbabweans. Other key languages are Sindebele and Shona.
The present flag of Zimbabwe was adopted on the 18th of April 1980 when the country attained its independence.
The green color on the flag symbolizes the country’s vegetation and fertile agricultural lands, yellow is for the mineral wealth, red is for the blood shed in the struggle for independence, black is for the African majority in Zimbabwe, white is for peace, the red star is for the desires of the country’s people and the yellow bird is the national symbol of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has a population of 12, 236, 805 people. The Shona and Ndebele are the main ethnic groups here accounting for about 98 % of the country’s population.
There are also small populations of Asians and Europeans concentrated mainly in Harare and Bulawayo. English is the official language of the country and is fluently spoken by many Zimbabweans.
Other key languages are Sindebele and Shona which are also widely spoken. Christianity and Indigenous beliefs are the main religions in the country. Islam is also practiced by a small minority.
Sports in Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe has for years been a major sporting nation in Africa. The country is alongside South Africa the only countries awarded Test Status in cricket.
Zimbabwe is also a strong rugby nation and represented the continent at the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups. Soccer is however the most popular team sport in the country and the local club competition has a large following. The national team known as “the warriors” has participated at the 2004 and 2006 Africa Nations Cup tournaments.
Famous players include;
Bruce Grobbelaar: regarded as one of the best goalkeepers to ever play in the English Premiership. He was a regular for Liverpool between 1981 and 1992.
Peter Ndlovu: the top scorer for the national team, Ndlovu also plied his trade in the English Premier league and played for; Sheffield United, Birmingham City and Coventry City.
Zimbabwe alongside South Africa is the only countries on the African Continent that have the envied Test Status.
This means that the country plays regular test and one-day international matches against other leading cricket nations such as; Pakistan, India, Australia, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
The country has participated regularly in the cricket world cup since its first appearance in 1983 and was one of the hosts of the 2003 world cup together with Kenya and South Africa. There is also a healthy provincial cricket competition in the country.
It is recommended that travelers to Zimbabwe obtain vaccinations for Malaria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Tetanus. Visitors should also take precautions in relation to food and drinking water.
Avoid eating poorly cooked foods and ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are washed using clean water. It is advisable to boil drinking water especially out of Harare and Bulawayo. Bottled water is cheap and easily available, sold in shops and supermarkets.
Health facilities in the country have deteriorated steadily in recent years and the best facilities can be found in Harare and Bulawayo. Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world currently at about 40.39 years for men and 38.16 for women. HIV/AIDS is also a major health problem and it is estimated that close to 2 million people are living with the disease in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWD) is the title of the Country’s currency. The currency was introduced in 1980 to replace the Rhodesian Dollar when the country became independent. One Z$ is divided into 100 cents.
The Z$ was at one time one of the strongest currencies in the region (The Z$ was stronger than the US$ in 1980). The currency has steadily weakened over time and the government had to revalue it in June 2006.
Presently (August 2006); US $ 1 is equivalent to Z$ 252.20; 1 British Pound was equal to Z$ 473.80; 1 Euro was equal to Z$ 323.89.
Zimbabwe Facts & Figures:
– Location: Southern Africa, south of Zambia, west of Mozambique.
– Capital City: Harare.
– Population: 12, 236, 805.
– Other major towns and cities: Bulawayo, Binga, Hwange, Kadoma, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Chitungwiza, Beitbridge
– Religion: Christian, Traditional, Islam, Others.
– Languages: English is the official language; Sindebele and Shona are widely spoken.
– Currency: Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWD).
At present, Zimbabwe has one of the poorest performing economies in the world. Inflation has reached triple digits forcing the government to revalue the country’s currency in June 2006. Agriculture which was once a key sector has almost disintegrated following the eviction of white farmers by the Mugabe government. Many Zimbabweans especially in rural areas now rely on relief food aid for survival.
Tourism is another key industry that has struggled in recent years with many visitors to the region preferring alternative destinations such as Zambia and South Africa. The national airline “Air Zimbabwe” has experienced financial losses and a significant drop in passenger numbers.
A resource rich country, other industries in Zimbabwe are; mining of coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay and metallic and non-metallic ores. Other industries are chemicals, cement, wood & timber, clothing, footwear, food and drink processing.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation:
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is the main broadcaster in the country operating the sole public TV station and four radio stations. The corporation is government owned and enjoys a monopoly in Zimbabwe’s broadcasting sector.
Television Stations: ZBC TV has a near nationwide reach and is the only TV station in the country following the closure of Joy TV in 2002.
Radio Stations: ZBC runs four radio stations, others are; SW Radio Africa, Studio 7 and Voice of the People.
The Zimbabwe Herald: The Zimbabwe Herald is a government owned daily newspaper. The paper has a nationwide circulation and is also available online at http://www.herald.co.zw/
The Zimbabwe Chronicle: also associated with the government, the Chronicle is based in the city of Bulawayo and is also available online at: http://www.chronicle.co.zw/
The Sunday Mail: also largely government affiliated, this is a leading weekly (Sunday) publication. It’s also available online at: http://www.sundaymail.co.zw/
The Zimbabwe Independent: published by the same group that produces the Zimbabwe Standard (Sunday paper), the Independent is a privately run newspaper that is also available online at: http://www.thezimbabweindependent.com/
Tourism and Travel in Zimbabwe:
The tourism sector in Zimbabwe has suffered significantly in recent years with a notable reduction in the number of visitors to the country. Zimbabwe however is home to some of the best wildlife parks and reserves in the region.
Its premier attraction however is the magnificent Victoria Falls. The falls are situated within the Victoria Falls National Park which is teaming with a variety of wildlife including; hippo, elephant, impala and white rhino. Visitors to the Zambezi River can indulge in a variety of activities such as rafting, canoeing and fishing.
Apart from the Victoria National Park, Zimbabwe is home to a number of good wildlife parks and reserves many with campsites or lodges for accommodation. These include; Hwange National Park, Chizarira National Park, Matusadona National Park, Mana Pools National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park, Gonarezhou National Park.
Towns and cities:
Harare is the capital and the largest city in Zimbabwe. Here you will find a wide range of restaurants, shops, hotels and pubs. The city is also home to a number of markets selling local handicraft items. Bulawayo is the 2nd largest city in the country and attractions here include; the National Art Gallery, National Museum, Chipangall Wildlife Orphanage.
Air Zimbabwe is the national airline of Zimbabwe. The airline conducts regular flights from its main hub at the Harare International Airport to domestic and international destinations. Air Zimbabwe was founded in 1967 and was then known as Air Rhodesia.
The name change to Air Zimbabwe occurred in April 1980 when the country attained its independence. Air Zimbabwe was privatized in 1997 and has in recent years suffered in-line with the ailing Zimbabwean economy. Problems facing the airline include a drop in passenger numbers and monetary losses.
Destinations: Beijing, Blantyre, Bulawayo, Dar es Salaam, Dubai, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, London, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls.
There are a number of airlines that offer frequent flights to Zimbabwe. The country’s key airport is the Harare International Airport which handles the bulk of international flights to Zimbabwe. Air Zimbabwe is the main operator of domestic flights and flies regularly from Harare to other cities around the country.
Airlines offering regular flights to Zimbabwe are; Kenya Airways, South African Airways, British Airways, Air Malawi, Air Botswana, Zambian Airways, Ghana Airways
Hotels in Zimbabwe:
Though its status as one of the key tourism destinations in Southern Africa has diminished greatly in recent years, Zimbabwe is still home to a number of good hotels. The leading hotels in the country can be found in the cities of Bulawayo and Harare. Popular hotels in Zimbabwe include:
Meikles Hotel Harare: another of the city’s popular establishment, the Meikles Hotel is situated at the corner of Jason Moyo Avenue and Third Street in the heart of the city. The hotel is one of the oldest in the Southern African Region and was established in 1915. The hotel offers 317 luxurious rooms, restaurants, bars, meeting rooms, business center, information desk, gym, beauty parlor, hair salon, swimming pool.
The Holiday Inn Bulawayo: situated at Ascot near the city centre, close to the Ascot race course; the Holiday Inn is regarded as one of the best hotels in the city. The hotel is a member of the Holiday Inn international chain of hotels and resorts. Holiday Inn Bulaway offers its clients; a health and fitness center, bars, restaurant, beauty parlor, conference rooms, function halls, tennis courts.
Named in honor of Queen Victoria by David Livingstone who first visited here in 1855; the Victoria Falls are one of the most breathtaking sights on the African continent. The falls are the premier tourist attraction in the region and are 1,708 meters in width falling into the Zambezi Gorge. The falls are known locally as “Mosi oa Tunya” (the smoke that thunders).
The Victoria Falls are shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe and are situated within the two adjacent national parks of Mosi oa Tunya in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. These parks are home to a large wildlife population which features; crocodile, hippo, elephant, white rhino, giraffe, impala and antelope. Visitors here can also indulge in fishing, rafting, canoeing or guided walks on nature trails.
Air Zimbabwe conducts regular flights from Harare to Victoria Falls. In Zambia, visitors can get to the falls by air from Lusaka landing at the nearby town of Livingstone.
For up-to-date information on applying for a visa, you should visit your nearest Zimbabwean consulate or consult your travel agent for assistance.
Visa requirements may change from time to time. Most nationals of commonwealth countries do not require visas for entry to Zimbabwe. Other countries within this category are; Ireland and Sweden.
Other nationals may need to apply for visas at the port of entry or prior to travel (recommended). As of July 2006; a single entry visa cost $ 30.00 for duration of six months. A multiple entry visa cost $ 55.00 and can be used as many times as needed within the six month period.
Zimbabwe Embassies and Consulates in Australasia:
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Canberra,
Tel: 61 2 6286 2700/ 6286 2251
Fax: 61 2 6296 2280/ 6290 1680
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Beijing,
Tel: 86 1 6532 3665
Fax: 86 1 6532 5383/ 6532 3084
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in New Delhi,
Tel: 91 11 6154 313/4
Fax: 91 11 615 4316
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Jakarta,
Tel: 62 215 221 378
Fax: 62 215 250 365
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Tokyo,
Tel: 81 3 328 003 31/2
Fax: 81 3 328 800 466
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: 60 3 425 16 779
Fax: 60 3 425 17 252
Zimbabwe Embassies and Consulates in Europe:
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Vienna,
Tel: 43 1 4079 236
Fax: 43 140 79 238
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels,
Tel: 32 2 762 5808
Fax: 32 2 762 9609
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris,
Tel: 33 1 5688 1600
Fax: 33 1 5688 1609
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Berlin,
Tel: 49 30 2062 263
Fax: 49 30 2045 5062
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Moscow,
Tel: 70 95 248 3150
Fax: 70 95 230 2497
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in London,
Tel: 44 207 836 7755
Fax: 44 207 379 1167
Zimbabwe Embassies and Consulates in North America
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in the United States
1608 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington DC 20009
Tel: 71 202 3327 100
Fax: 1 202 483 9326
The Embassy of Zimbabwe in Canada
332 Somerset Street West,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0J9
Tel: (613) 237 4388 4389
Fax: (613) 563-8269