A multi-faceted country, Zimbabwe is mainly symbolized by the image of the famous Victoria Falls (Victoria Falls), a site of incomparable splendor. But we must not forget that Zimbabwe also has Lake Kariba, national parks (Hwange, Gonarezhou, Mana Pools, Matobo), cities (Harare and Bulawayo). And the
Shona, the dominant population of Zimbabwe, will not fail to amaze you with their good manners.



14, 5 million persons.


390 580 km2.

Capital City



Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru.

High Point

Nyangani Hills (2 592 m).


English(Official), shona, sindebele.


Christians 67%, animists 30% and others


Compared to France, plus one hour from November to March at same time, April to October. UTC/GMT: + 2.


 Without access to the sea, Zimbabwe borders Zambia to the northwest, Mozambique to the east, South Africa to the south and Botswana to the southwest. There are three regions defined by their altitude:

  • The high field, at more than 1,400 meters, constitutes the central ridge
  • The middle field, between 700 and 1,400 meters, to the northwest and southwest
  • The low field, along the Limpopo and Zambezi valleys.

 Victoria Falls, near the town of Livingstone in Zambia and forming part of the Zambezi River, is considered to be among the largest and most impressive in the world, at 1,700 meters wide and up to 108 meters high.


 The tropical climate is moderated by the altitude.



November to March

April to June

July to October

Hot Temperatures: up to 40 °C in January during the day.

Cold Temperatures:
15 °C during the day and down to 0 °C overnight

Hot Temperatures:
25 °C during the day and down to 10 °C overnight

Rainy Season

Dry Season 


Zimbabwe is rich in agriculture, cattle and goat farming. The main crops, both on large European commercial farms and on small African farms, are maize, the staple food of the population, and tobacco, intended for export; other important crops are cotton and sugar cane.

Zimbabwe is one of the world’s leading producers of chromium; gold is currently the main mineral wealth; Next come nickel, coal, copper and iron. Its industrial sector is important: textiles, food, metal products, transport equipment and weapons.

The railway network is particularly dense, the two main railways depart from Harare, one to South Africa and the other to Mozambique. 


Europeans, mostly of British descent, are in steady decline; they live in large settlements and along the Harare-Bulawayo axis. Blacks represent 98% of the population and are divided into two large ethnic groups: the Shonas, divided into several clans (zezuru, karanga, manyika…), by far the most numerous
(nearly 80% of the population); and Ndebele or Matabele (about 20%). The Shonas live in the east and north and are distinguished by their abundant and superb art; Christians, they kept their traditional animist beliefs.

The country’s history

The presence of the first inhabitants in southern Africa dates back to more than 8000 years before our era. About 500 come from Central African iron craftsmen and Bantu farmers. The Shona people developed the city of Great Zimbabwe, structured around a monarchy, a ruling caste and an army, which became the richest and most powerful capital of southern Africa; its influence peaked in the 14th century. In the 15th century, the Shonas dynasty declined sharply; the Torwa dynasty founded their kingdom, members of the great civilization of Zimbabwe, led by King Mwene Mutapa, founded the Shona Empire of Monomotapa, which flourished until the 17th century. A rebel vassal, Changa, creates a new kingdom and seizes the site of Zimbabwe. At the beginning of the 19th century, the empires disappeared, invaded by the troops
of the Zulu Emperor Chaka. In 1888, Charles Rudd, emissary of the British South Africa Chartered Company, obtains the exclusive concession of the mineral
wealth in exchange for a few pounds sterling, a thousand guns and a gunboat, which will never be delivered!

The Federation was dissolved and in 1964, under the name of Zambia and Malawi, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent. Still under British rule, but enjoying considerable autonomy, Southern Rhodesia entered a period of prosperity which mainly benefited the European minority. The black opposition experiencing internal tensions, the African National Congress is renamed the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), the dissident branch gives birth to the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Boycotted by the two black nationalist parties, the Rhodesian Front – which succeeded the Dominion Party – won the 1965 elections; its leader, the new Prime Minister Ian Smith, is demanding independence from Britain, which refuses to grant it until black people are more widely associated with power. But I. Smith unilaterally proclaimed the independence of Rhodesia and, in 1970, of the Republic. The insecurity in the rural areas, maintained by the guerrillas of the liberation movements, becomes permanent. Finally, a transitional government, formed in 1978, is responsible for preparing the transfer of power to the black majority. In 1979, the independence process was finalized. In the 1980 multiracial elections, R. Mugabe’s ZANU won J. Nkomo’s ZAPU.

Rhodesia gained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980. In 1987 a presidential regime was established and R. Mugabe became president of the republic. In 1988, ZAPU and ZANU merged and an opposition party, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM), was formed. In the 1990s, the economic situation was worrying, with a considerable external debt and a high unemployment rate. Rising commodity prices sparked riots, and in 1998 the military intervened to restore order. Following the failure of the February 2000 constitutional referendum on the consolidation of the powers of the president, the adoption
by Parliament of a law authorizing the expropriation of white farmers without compensation plunges the country into a serious political and economic crisis. 4,500 white farmers were evicted and their land redistributed, most often to members of the ZANU-PF leadership or relatives of the Mugabe family. In 2001, following Commonwealth-led negotiations, Zimbabwe pledged to end the illegal occupation of white farmland and political violence. Great Britain agrees in return to finance an agrarian reform.

The 2002 presidential election provided the regime with a pretext to put in place a repressive arsenal that equated any challenge to the regime with an act of “insurrection, banditry and terrorism”; in this context, R. Mugabe was re-elected in the first round. Denigrating the disputes which declare the polls illegitimate, the regime reinforces its repression by assassinating several opponents. Zimbabwe is under a series of sanctions and suspended from the Commonwealth. In 2008, following a travesty of voting, R. Mugabe, 84, 28 at the helm of the country, was re-elected for a sixth term. In order to get the country
out of the deep political, economic and social crisis in which it finds itself, the outgoing president and his former opponent, Mr. Tsvangirai, sign a powersharing agreement. There is an improvement in the economic environment and food security. In 2013, after being approved by referendum, a new constitution came into force. Relatively liberal and limiting the election of the president to two successive terms, the text is a prerequisite for the legislative elections in July. Although marked by obvious irregularities, but deemed generally free and credible by observers, they gave the majority to ZANU-PF,
while R. Mugabe was re-elected for five years!

Zimbabwe owes its name to the famous ruins of an imposing dry stone architectural ensemble – unique in size in Bantu – in the south of the country. During decolonization in 1980, African liberation movements chose the name “Zimbabwe” instead of “Rhodesia” given in honor of Cecil Rhodes, the architect of British colonization. An African name evoking an ancient black civilization has thus replaced a name celebrating European conquest.

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