The Republic of Zimbabwe is the official name of Zimbabwe, the country previously known as Rhodesia. This name originated from Cecil John Rhodes, whose company managed the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.Let’s take a quick tour and learn a thing or two about this landlocked country through these fun facts about Zimbabwe…
1. Where is Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is a wildlife rich, landlocked country in Southern Africa.
2. Where does its name come from?
The name Zimbabwe is derived from the stone structures of Great Zimbabwe, an ancient ruined city built between 1100 and 1450 AD, which is now a UNESCO world heritage site – incredible!
The name actually comes from the Shona language “Dzimba dza mabwe”, which means “great houses of stone”.
3. Who are Zimbabwe’s neighbours?
It is bordered by Zambia to the north, Mozambique to the east, South Africa to the south and Botswana to the west.
Flag of Zimbabwe
4. Zimbabwe has a strong national anthem.
The national anthem of Zimbabwe is called “Blessed be the Land of Zimbabwe”. It was written by Professor Solomon Mutswairo and Fred Changundega.
5. How can you find Zimbabwe on the map?
The coordinates for Zimbabwe are 17.8333° S, 31.0500°
6. It’s a very hilly country!
The terrain here is mostly high plateau with mountains in the east. Perfect for exploring by 4×4 or foot!
7. Zimbabwe is fairly large.
The total land area of Zimbabwe is 150,872 square miles (390,757 square kilometres). Zimbabwe’s population was 14.65 million in 2019.
8. The current capital of Zimbabwe is home to millions.
The capital is Harare (formally Salisbury) which covers an area of 370.9 square miles (960.6 square kilometres) and has a population of 1.485 million (2012).
9. Zimbabwe doesn’t have long life expectancy.
According to a study in 2016, Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. The average life span here is 61.2 years (2018).
10. The rain here is fairly split.
Zimbabweans enjoy a tropical climate with a dry season with almost no rain whatsoever from April to October and a rainy season from November to March.
11. The country was once owned by the British.
Zimbabwe was actually under British rule from 1890 until 1965. It gained full independence in 1980.
12. Zimbabweans speak many different languages.
What language is spoken in Zimbabwe? Actually, there are many languages spoken in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has an incredible 16 official languages – more than any other country in the world! They are English, Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and sign language! Amazing!
13. You can spend many different currencies here, too.
It’s also the only country to have 8 official currencies, none of which are exclusive to Zimbabwe! They are US Dollars, South African Rand, Botswanan Pula, British Pound Sterling, Australian Dollars, Chinese Yuan, Indian Rupees and Japanese Yen!
These currencies recently replaced the Zimbabwean Dollar after the country experienced hyperinflation which saw the currency become worth less than a single sheet of toilet roll!
14. The old currency has been fully replaced.
Since the 12th of April, 2009, Zimbabwe has been using the U.S. dollar, the South African rand, and the Botswana pula, after abandoning its currency.
15. Inflation hit Zimbabwe hard.
Just before Zimbabwe abandoned their currency a Z$100 trillion banknote was printed.
A cheetah, Zimbabwe
16. Mugabe had a long reign.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s former prime minister, and president was one of the longest-serving leaders of a non-royal country in the world.
He was succeeded by Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017. Mugabe died in 2019.
17. Vehicle laws differ wildly in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, it’s illegal for the police to impound your vehicle on the road. The only time when they can do so is when they ask you to produce your driver’s license.
18. The country has had a reasonable showing at the Olympic Games.
At the Olympic Games, Zimbabwe has won a total of 8 medals in two sports, one in hockey, and seven in swimming.
19. It’s a haven for wildlife.
As one of the leading African countries for safari tourism, it is possible to see leopards, lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo and antelopes here, amongst many other majestical wild creatures.
20. Zimbabwe grows and exports many different things.
Zimbabwe grows cotton, corn, wheat and tobacco and rears cattle.
Its industry consists of coal, gold, steel, cement, chemicals and wood products.
This beautiful country also exports gold, tobacco, textiles, clothing and ferroalloys.
21. The famous falls here have a different name locally.
The Victoria Falls are locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
22. The falls are truly massive, and are extremely culturally important.
The Victoria Falls are the largest curtain of water in the world, they’re an incredible 1708 meters wide. They were chosen as a World Heritage site in 1986.
23. Victoria Falls cover two countries.
Victoria Falls are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and are shared by the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
24. Duck – or get wet!
During the wet season, the falls’ spray can be seen nearly 50 kilometres away, hence the name “the smoke that thunders”.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
25. Zimbabwe boasts a huge artificial lake.
Built on the Zambezi River, Lake Kariba is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes in the world.
26. Spirituality is strong here.
The Tonga people believed that the Zambezi River God, also known as Nyaminyami controls the life on the Zambezi.
27. What’s a popular dish in Zimbabwe?
The main food in Zimbabwe, cooked cornmeal, is called Sadza in the Shona language. This porridge made by mixing corn with water is eaten for lunch and dinner. It’s also mixed with spinach, beans, and meat and often eaten with coagulated milk called mukaka wakakora.
A thinner porridge usually flavoured with milk, butter, jam, or peanut butter, called bota, is eaten for breakfast.
28. Art is very important to Zimbabweans.
Shona sculpture is a contemporary art form, where artists with little education and training, produce exquisite sculptures.
The Shona sculptures are unique as most of the artists carve with no pre-conceived idea using only hand tools.
29. Most people in Zimbabwe are of Shona descent.
The Shona tribe constitutes about 70% of the country’s current population.
30. No, really – Zimbabwe is massive.
Zimbabwe is slightly larger than Montana and roughly three times the size of England.
31. It’s absolutely worth digging deep here!
Zimbabwe has vast natural resources which include coal, gold chromium ore, asbestos, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, and platinum group of metals.
Manufacturing, mining, and farming create the pillar of the Zimbabwean economy.
32. The national flower is poisonous.
Flame Lily, the beautiful tropical flower that blooms during the rainy season is the national flower of Zimbabwe. This plant is used for its medicinal properties, but it’s toxic if swallowed.
33. The country plays host to endangered animals.
The Black Rhino is an endangered animal and can only be found in a few places across the world, and Zimbabwe is one of them.
Dung Beetle, Zimbabwe
34. There’s some odd branding trends here.
In Zimbabwe almost every kind of toothpaste is called Colgate, every soft drink Coke, and every washing powder Surf.
35. The power goes down quite a lot here.
In Zimbabwe, blackouts are quite frequent and random, and when they occur, they usually last for 3 hours or more.
Sunset on the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe
FAQs about Zimbabwe
Is Zimbabwe safe to travel to?
On the whole, Zimbabwe is considered fairly safe for tourists, though it makes sense to follow the usual safety tips and tricks when travelling!
What is the most popular job in Zimbabwe?
The most popular jobs in Zimbabwe are largely found in education and healthcare.
Do people speak English in Zimbabwe?
Yes - English is commonly spoken and taught across Zimbabwe.
Do you know any fun facts about Zimbabwe? Share them in the comments below!