Republic of Zimbabwe
Formerly a British colony known as Southern Rhodesia and Rhodesia, the minority white population unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965. This was not recognized and as a result of United Nations imposed sanctions, and a brutal uprising, free elections were eventually held in 1979, and true independence as Zimbabwe from Britain was granted on 18 April 1980. Robert Mugabe was Zimbabwe's first prime minister and has ruled ever since (now as president). The country has seen its economy slide towards disaster for many years, and this was exacerbated by his highly controversial and chaotic land redistribution campaign starting in 2000. Inflation is now a staggering 1,200% (and estimated to keep rising), all the more significant as inflation has been steadily falling in sub-Saharan Africa. Food and fuel shortages in Zimbabwe are common.
The religions are 50% syncretic (part Christian part indigenous, common in Southern Africa), 25% Christian and 25% indigenous. The Muslim population is small. The main ethnic components are 82% Shona, 14% Ndebele, the white population is less than 1%. The capital city is Harare. English is the official language, and Shona and Ndebele are the main indigenous languages. Their legal system is based on Roman Dutch and English common law.
The most significant archeological site are the ruins of Great Zimbabwe which has provided important historical evidence of a great Shona civilization that existed from the 11th century AD. The African art of Zimbabwe is most famous for their wonderful soap stone carvings and weaving.
The currency is the Zimbabwean dollar.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country that borders South Africa to the South, Mozambique to the east, and Zambia and Botswana to the west. As a comparison, Zimbabwe is roughly the size of Montana and arable land is about 8%. As the terrain is mostly high plateau and mountainous, the climate is tropically moderate and idyllic.
Arguably the world's most spectacular waterfall (420 feet), the Victoria falls is situated on the Zambezi River on the Zambian border. The local name for the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning "the smoke that thunders".
Natural resources include coal, chromium, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium and platinum. The country has a well developed mining infrastructure largely dominated by South African and British mining conglomerates.
The total population is just over 12 million people who are commonly know as Zimbabweans. The fertility rate is 3 children per woman, and the prevalence of HIV is 25%. It is estimated that at least 2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Given the governments mismanagement of the economy, poverty is high and the unemployment rate is about 80%.