Facts & figures

Full name: Republic of Zimbabwe

Population: 13 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Harare

Area: 390,759 sq km (150,873 sq miles)

Major language: English (official), Shona, Sindebele

Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 Zimbabwe dollar = 100 cents

Main exports: Tobacco, cotton, agricultural products, gold, minerals

GNI per capita: $660 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .zw

International dialling code: +263





President: Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe for the three decades of its independence.

He was a key figure in the struggle for independence, which involved a bitter bush war against a white minority which had cut the country loose from the colonial power Britain.


Visa & travel advice

You will need a visa to visit Zimbabwe. You can get a visa from the Zimbabwean Embassy in London or on arrival in Zimbabwe. If you have not obtained a visa before travelling, bring enough cash with you in small notes to pay for your visa on arrival. You can also apply for a visa online before travel.

Make sure you are travelling with the correct documentation otherwise you risk arrest and deportation. NGO workers should double-check that they have the correct visa. You are not allowed to conduct any business or seek employment if you have a tourist visa. Check current entry requirements with the Zimbabwe High Commission in London before you travel.

Visitors are currently being given entry permission for anything up to 90 days but you should check that the number of days given at the port of entry covers your intended period of stay. You can apply to have this period renewed and extended if required. It is illegal to give a false statement in support of a visa or to work in Zimbabwe without the correct visa or work permit.

  • Best period

Zimbabwe enjoys a moderate climate year-round. Temperatures are higher and rain is more frequent between November and April. It is cooler between May and October.

  • Safety

Zimbabwe has experienced significant political, social and economic instability in the past three decades, and visitors should be aware that the situation there is unpredictable and can deteriorate at any time. That said, foreigners can and do visit Zimbabwe without incident all the time. Before planning your trip to Zimbabwe, check the U.S. Department of State’s consular website for detailed current travel warnings.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, according to scores based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Zimbabwe or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.


Following the Lancaster House Agreement there was a transition to majority rule in 1980; the United Kingdom ceremonially granted Zimbabwe independence on 18 April that year. In the 2000s Zimbabwe's economy began to deteriorate due to various factors, including mismanagement and corruption, the imposition of sanctions, such as among others the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, following the switch from Willing Buyer, Willing Seller to Fast Track land reform. Economic instability led several members of the military to try to overthrow the government in a coup d'état in 2007. Prior to independence as Zimbabwe, the nation had been known by several names: Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

Arts & Culture

  • Music :

Zimbabwean music includes folk and pop styles. Much of the folk music is based around the well-known instrument traditional mbira instruments which are also popular in many other African countries: mbira, Ngoma drums and hosho. An annual Zimbabwe Music Festival is held each year in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. People from all over the world attend this festival and share the experience of Zimbabwean music and culture. Popular genres in Zimbabwe include indigenous Mbira music, Chimurenga music, Sungura music, Sungumba music, Zimbabwean hip-Hop, Zimbabwean Reggae (Dancehall music), Shangara, Jerusarema, Gospel Music, Mhande, Mbaqanga, Afro-Jazz and Rhumba.

  • Literature

THE YEAR 1980 has gone down in Zimbabwean history as a watershed which marks the end of ninety years of White settler rule and the beginning of a new era, a time when the long-suffering African assumes the responsibility, at least politically, of shaping his own destiny. It is a time when the Black man who has been maimed by ninety years of exploitation and oppression limps to the finishing line and claims his trophy -- independence and freedom. For the Zimbabwean writer this belated freedom offers boundless possiblities since the censorship and other shackles of the past have been swept away. This essay review attempts to assess the quality and orientation of the new novels which have been published since Zimbabwe attained its independence. But in order to ascertain whether this recent fiction is, indeed, new in terms of content and orientation, a brief outline of the main features of pre-Independence fiction written by Blacks is necessary.

  • Famous monuments

Great Zimbabwe







  • Architecture history

Urban centers are divided into areas of low and high housing density (formerly referred to as townships) for low-income families. The use of space therefore is closely correlated with socioeconomic status. High-density areas have been planned with water and power supplies. Little artistic emphasis has been placed on architecture, and with the exception of some well-maintained colonial buildings, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, buildings tend to be functional.

Mud and wattle or sun-dried bricks are used in house building in rural areas; well-off families may use concrete blocks. Traditionally, houses were round with thatch roofing, but an increasing number are square or rectangular with zinc sheet roofing, although kitchens are still built as roundavels (round thatched mud huts). The most marked use of space is in the kitchen, where a bench runs around the right side for men to sit on, while women sit on the floor on the left.


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