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Landlocked country, southern Africa. Area: 150,872 sq mi (390,757 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 12,523,000. Capital: Harare. The Shona make up more than two-thirds of the population; most of the rest are Ndebele, Chewa, and people of European ancestry. Languages: English (official); Bantu languages of the Shona and Ndebele are much more widely spoken. Religions: Christianity (other [mostly independent] Christians, Protestant, Roman Catholic), traditional beliefs. Currency: Zimbabwe dollar. A broad ridge running southwest-northeast, reaching elevations of 4,000–5,000 ft (1,200–1,500 m), dominates Zimbabwe's landscape. The Zambezi River forms the country's northwestern boundary and contains Victoria Falls as well as the Kariba Dam (completed 1959); Lake Kariba, created by the dam, covers some 2,000 sq mi (5,200 sq km). The Limpopo and Save river basins are in the southeast. Agricultural products, livestock, and mineral reserves, including gold, are all economically important. Zimbabwe's current form of government is a transitional coalition regime that is a multiparty republic with two legislative houses; the head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister and cabinet. Remains of Stone Age cultures dating to 500,000 years ago have been found in the area. The first Bantu-speaking peoples reached Zimbabwe during the 5th–10th centuries CE, driving the San inhabitants into the desert. A second migration of Bantu speakers began c. 1830. During that period the British and Afrikaners moved up from the south, and the area came under the administration of the British South Africa Company (1889–1923). Called Southern Rhodesia (1911–64), it became a self-governing British colony in 1923. The colony united in 1953 with Nyasaland (Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to form the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation dissolved in 1963, and Southern Rhodesia reverted to its former colonial status. In 1965 it issued a unilateral declaration of independence considered illegal by the British government, which led to economic sanctions against it. The country, which proclaimed itself a republic in 1970, called itself Rhodesia from 1964 to 1979. In 1979 it instituted limited majority rule and changed its name to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. It was granted independence by Britain in 1980 and became Zimbabwe. A multiparty system was established in 1990. The economy began to experience a decline in the 1990s that accelerated dramatically in the 2000s. In 2008 long-simmering political tensions between the ruling party and the opposition led to a hotly contested presidential election that sparked a protracted political crisis and exacerbated the country's economic troubles and deteriorating health and welfare conditions. An agreement for a power-sharing government, reached in September 2008, was implemented in February 2009.
Variants of ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe officially Republic of Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Zimbabwe, visit Britannica.com.