Country Summary - Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa that has a population of about 15 million  people. It is bordered by Zambia in the north, South Africa in the south, Mozambique in the east, and  Botswana in the west. Zimbabwe was one of the last few African states to attain independence from  British colonial rule. Years of armed struggle led to majority rule and internationally recognized  independence on April 18th, 1980.  

Official Languages:  

  • Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. However, the main  

languages are Shona (spoken by 70% of the population), Ndebele 

(spoken by 20% of the population), and English.  

  • English is the first language of most white Zimbabweans and is  

the second language of most black Zimbabweans. 

  • English is Zimbabwe’s bridge language and is used in government  

and business and as the main medium of instruction in schools.  

Flag of Zimbabwe 

The colors represent the black majority, (red) the blood  

spilled during the liberation struggle, (gold) the country’s mineral  

wealth, (green) the country’s agriculture and vegetation, and the  

country’s national emblem (Zimbabwe Bird), red five-point star  

(symbolizes hope) the white triangle represents peace. 

Common Phrases 

English  Shona  Ndebele
Hello  Mhoroyi  Salibonani
How are you?  Makadii?  Linjani?
What is your name?  Munonzi ani, zita?  Ibizo lakho ngubani?
Thank you!  Ndinotenda  Ngiyabonga
To reply thank you  Muchi tendei  Kulungile
Goodbye  Fambai zvakanaka  Lisale kuhle

Zimbabwe Traditions 

  • Totems – One of the key traditions in Zimbabwean culture is the use of Totems, or Mutupo, to  identify the different clans. The totems are usually associated with animal names and provide  the social identity of the clan. Addressing someone by their totem is seen as a sign of both  respect and endearment. 
  • Religion – Up to 80% of Zimbabweans identify as Christian and attend churches including the  Apostolic. The Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Dutch Reformed  churches are all represented. In the 20th century, Christian mission schools 

influenced the country. Christianity is often mixed with indigenous beliefs. Dutch  Reformed churches are all represented. In the 20th century, Christian mission schools  influenced the country. Christianity is often mixed with indigenous beliefs. 

  • Culture – Most of Zimbabwe’s people stem from the great family of Bantu-speaking migrants  who first ventured east and south across Africa some 2000 years ago. Their Bantu kin – the Zulu  warriors of King Mzilikazi – arrived from South Africa in the first half of the nineteenth century.  They now form the Ndebele, Zimbabwe’s second-largest community. Other minority ethnic  groups include white Zimbabweans, mainly of British origin, and various Asian ethnic groups,  mostly Indian and Chinese. 
  • Education – In the decade following independence, Zimbabwe achieved one of the highest  primary school enrolment rates in Africa. Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa,  with nine-tenths of the population considered literate. 
  • Sport – Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Zimbabwe. Rugby and Cricket are also  played, but traditionally this was among the white minority. This has changed since Zimbabwe’s  independence. Cricket has a strong following now.  
  • Government – Emmerson Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe’s current president. He was Robert Mugabe’s  Vice President until November 2017, when he was dismissed before coming to power in a coup  d’état.  
  • Economy & Crisis – Zimbabwe was once one of southern Africa’s most vibrant and productive  countries. However, over the past two decades, a series of political and economic crises have  led to a general decline in the standard of living. In the years that followed, sanctions were  imposed on Zimbabwe, and loans and economic aid was withdrawn. This led to unprecedented  inflation – 8,000 percent in September 2007 and surpassing 10 million percent by the end of  2008. Unemployment exceeded 80% and this led to many Zimbabweans leaving the country to  find work.  
  • Migration – Due to difficulty in accessing universities in Zimbabwe, many young Zimbabweans  emigrated to other countries including the US to complete their studies. 

References Sources: All Africa, Britannica, factbook/countries/zimbabwe/#military-and-security, Office of the US Trade Representative act-agoa, Reporters Without Borders, USAID U.S. Embassy In Zimbabwe 

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