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Information about Zimbabwe Zimbabwe is situated in southern Africa. It is a completely landlocked country. To the east lies Mozambique, to the north and west Zambia, Botswana is in het south-west and in the south Zimbabwe borders South-Africa. The major part of Zimbabwe is located on a plateau with an altitude of 800 to 1200 metres above sea-level. Mountaineous areas can be found in the northern and eastern part of the country. The highest mountain is Mount Inyangani (2600 metres). Most mountains and hills consist of old vulcanic rock. The Zimbabwe plateau is characterized by a rolling landscape with rock mass rising above it, the so-called kopjes. The biggest river is the Zambezi that forms the border with Zambia. This river flows to the north and northeast and finally into the Indian Ocean. The Victoria Falls on the border with Zambia are amongst the biggest and the most spectacular falls in the world. The Limpopo river is the border between Zimbabwe and South-Africa. Name The word Zimbabwe means "house of stone". The name is derived from the Great Zimbabwe ruins, constructions of stone that were built in the thirteenth century. They are situated in the south of the country and once formed the centre of the Munhumatapa-kingdom in southern Africa. The Great Zimbabwe ruins in Masvingo province Climate The weather in Zimbabwe can be divided in three seasons: Winter (May, June, July, August) - cool and dry Spring (September, October) - hot and dry Summer (November - April) - hot and wet On average the country has seven and a half hours of sun a day. Rainfall is not evenly distributed over Zimbabwe. In the south and southwest the annual rainfall is less than 400 mm. In the mountains in the northeast more than 1,000 mm of rain is falling each year. Temperatures vary from 20� C in July (winter) to 30� C in October. The valleys along the rivers are significantly hotter, due to their lower altitude. In the Eastern Highlands the temperatures are lower than average, both in winter and summer. The nights are often cold. History 1100 The likely beginning of Great Zimbabwe 1840 The Ndebele people migrate from the south to the land that forms present-day Zimbabwe 1890 The BSAC (British South Africa Company) led by Cecil Rhodes agrees with the Ndebele king on a pact about mining minerals 1893 Cecil Rhodes conquers Matabele land 1923 Founding of the colony of South Rhodesia, with its own government 1965 Unilateral declaration of independence by the white minority 1972-1980 Second Chimurenga (War of Liberation) 1980 Independence Size and population The size of Zimbabwe is 390,245 square kilometres, which means that the country is about eleven times bigger than the Netherlands. More than twelve million people live in Zimbabwe. The vast majority of the population is of African black descent (Shona, Ndebele and some smaller tribes). Small European (1%) and Asian (1%) communities exist. Most people speak Shona or Ndebele, although English is quite commonly spoken as well. Independence Before independence Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia. Black liberation fighters have fought for years to overthrow the white government. For the new government one of the main goals was to raise the standard of living and the level of education for the black population. To achieve this goal, the wealth within Zimbabwe had to be spread more evenly. The last years have shown a sharp decline in the economic, the political and the human rights situation. Education and healthcare used to be on a high standard but are now detoriating. Agriculture The main food crop is corn. The most important export crop is tobacco. Other corps are sugarcane, millet, sorghum, wheat, cotton, potatoes, nuts, soya beans, oranges, bananas, tea and coffee. Zimbabwe is also an export country for flowers. Seven out of ten Zimbabweans are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Until recently, the big agricultural estates in Zimbabwe were mainly owned by about 4,500 white farmers. These estates often cover thousands of hectares. The farmers used to employ many black labourers. Almost all estates have now been nationalized, often in a violant way. As a justification for this, the government used the need to reform and redistribute the land. The black labourers have been expelled from the farms. The estates often have fallen into the hands of the elite from the reigning Zanu-pf party. Agricultural production has declined dramatically, which has caused an increase in poverty and more recently also famine. Industry Zimbabwe's industry produces clothing, shoes, metals, food products, chemicals, textiles, wood and paper. The main source of energy is the hydropower from the Kariba reservoir, situated in the Zambezi near the border with Zambia. Hydropower produces electricity. Another important source of income in Zimbabwe is tourism. Each year 300,000 tourists visit the country. Mining Zimbabwe exports many minerals, like nickel, iron, tin, silver and copper. Education The first four years after independence in 1980, the government invested enormously in education. The number of pupils in primary schools tripled, secondary schools welcomed six times more pupils than before. Sometimes schools do not have enough classrooms and pupils are taught in the open air. Sometimes pupils go to school in shifts: one group will attend school in the morning, the other in the afternoon. This system is called "hot-seating". Many schools are located in the countryside. The white government that ruled the country before 1980 opened little schools for African children. Nowadays almost all Zimbabwean children attend school. Initially education was free, but since a couple of years tuition has to be paid. Healthcare Since indepedence Zimbabwe can rely on a well organized healthcare system. Hospitals, health centres and clinics are available, both in the big cities and in smaller towns. Until recently healthcare was free. Everywhere on the countryside clinics have been built and healthcare workers have been trained. Due to the bad economic situation many doctors and nurses have left for South-Africa or Europe. Malaria (which is caused by a moskito bite) is still not completely beaten. Bilharzia, a disease that is caused by infected water in slowly running rivers, remains a problem in some parts of Zimbabwe. HIV/ Aids is a huge problem in Zimbabwe. According to UNAIDS figures, 33.7% of the population aged 15-50 is infected, as well as 240,000 children aged 0-15. Because of this last disease, life expectancy has dropped to about 43 years. Media Both radio and television are being controlled by the government. Next to the officially controlled press, several independent papers are issued: one newspaper (The Daily News) and three weekly papers (The Independent, The Standard and The Financial Gazette). All press is in English. Religion Religion plays an important part in the life of Zimbabweans. More than half of the population is christian - the Catholic and the Anglican church are the major religions. Churches are well visited and most services are very spirited. Muslim and hindu communities do occur, but are small in Zimbabwe. Traditional African religions influence the christian churches and organise their own worshipping services.
 
 
 
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