Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Harare. A country of roughly 16 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used.
Since the 11th century, present-day Zimbabwe has been the site of several organised states and kingdoms as well as a major route for migration and trade. The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia. The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. Zimbabwe then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was suspended in 2002 for breaches of international law by its then-government, and from which it withdrew in December 2003. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It was once known as the "Jewel of Africa" for its prosperity.
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Zimbabwe held a presidential election along with a parliamentary election on March 29, 2008. The three major candidates were incumbent President Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and Simba Makoni, an independent. The election was expected, because of Zimbabwe's dire economic situation, to provide President Mugabe with his toughest electoral challenge to date. Mugabe's opponents have been critical of the handling of the electoral process, and the government has been accused of planning to rig the election; Human Rights Watch said that the election was likely to be "deeply flawed". However, after the election took place, Jose Marcos Barrica, the head of the Southern African Development Community observer mission, described the election as "a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe."
No official results were announced for more than a month after the election. The failure to release results was strongly criticized by the MDC, which sought an order from the High Court that would force their release. An independent projection placed Tsvangirai in the lead, but without the majority needed to avoid a second round.
The opening of the railway to Umtali in 1899.
A meal of sadza (right), greens, and goat offal. The goat's small intestines are wrapped around small pieces of large intestines before cooking.
Traditional Zimbabwe Bird design
A group of women and children in Norton, Zimbabwe
The GDP per capita (current), compared to neighbouring countries (world average = 100).
Map showing the spread of cholera in and around Zimbabwe put together from several sources.
A proportional representation of Zimbabwe's exports, 2010
Map showing the food insecurity in Zimbabwe in June 2008
Zimbabwe map of Köppen climate classification.
A demonstration in London against Robert Mugabe. Protests are discouraged by Zimbabwean police in Zimbabwe.
Selected national symbol
The stone-carved Zimbabwe Bird is a national emblem of Zimbabwe, appearing on the national flags and coats of arms of both Zimbabwe and Rhodesia, as well as on banknotes and coins (first on Rhodesian pound and then Rhodesian dollar). It probably represents the bateleur eagle.
The famous soapstone bird carvings stood on walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe built, it is believed, sometime between the 12th and 15th centuries by ancestors of the Shona. The ruins, which gave their name to modern Zimbabwe, cover some 1,800 acres (7.3 km²) and are the largest ancient stone construction in Zimbabwe.
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