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The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the [British] South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country of Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980.

Robert MUGABE, the nation’s first prime minister of Zimbabwe, has been the country’s only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country’s political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 1997 and intensified after 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the Zimbabwe economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities.

Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the Zimbabwe 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. In April 2005, the capital city of Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order, ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition. President MUGABE in June 2007 instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months; a period of increasing hyperinflation ensued in Zimbabwe.

General elections held in March 2008 in Zimbabwe contained irregularities but still amounted to a censure of the ZANU-PF-led government with the opposition winning a majority of seats in parliament. MDC-T opposition leader Morgan TSVANGIRAI won the most votes in the presidential polls, but not enough to win outright. In the lead up to a run-off election in late June 2008, considerable violence enacted against opposition party members led to the withdrawal of TSVANGIRAI from the ballot. Extensive evidence of violence and intimidation resulted in international condemnation of the process.

Difficult negotiations over a power-sharing “government of national unity,” in which MUGABE remained president of Zimbabwe and TSVANGIRAI became prime minister of Zimbabwe, were finally settled in February 2009, although the leaders failed to agree upon many key outstanding governmental issues. MUGABE was reelected president of Zimbabwe in June 2013 in balloting that was severely flawed and internationally condemned.

As a prerequisite to holding the elections, Zimbabwe enacted a new constitution by referendum, although many provisions in the new constitution have yet to be codified in law.

Zimbabwe’s economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year in 2010-13, before slowing to roughly 3% in 2014 due to poor harvests, low diamond revenues, and decreased investment. Infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, a poor investment climate, a large public and external debt burden, and extremely high government wage expenses impede the country’s economic performance.

Until early 2009, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) routinely printed money to fund the budget deficit, causing hyperinflation. Dollarization in early 2009 – which allowed currencies such as the Botswana pula, the South Africa rand, and the US dollar to be used locally – ended hyperinflation and reduced inflation below 10% per year, but exposed structural weaknesses that inhibit broad-based growth.

The RBZ introduced bond coins denominated in 1, 5, 10, and 25 cent increments on a par with the US dollar in December 2014, more than five years after the Zimbabwe dollar was taken out of circulation.

In January 2015, as part of the government’s effort to boost trade and attract foreign investment, the RBZ announced that the Chinese renmimbi, Indian rupee, Australian dollar, and Japanese yen would be accepted as legal tender in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s government entered a second Staff Monitored Program with the International Monetary Fund in 2014 and undertook other measures to reengage with the international financial institutions. Foreign and domestic investment continues to be hindered by the lack of clarity regarding the government’s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$26.88 billion (2014 est.)
$26.06 billion (2013 est.)
$25.23 billion (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2014 US dollars
country comparison to the world: 132

GDP (official exchange rate):
$13.74 billion (2014 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
3.1% (2014 est.)
3.3% (2013 est.)
10.6% (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 103

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$2,000 (2014 est.)
$2,000 (2013 est.)
$1,900 (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
country comparison to the world: 203

Gross national saving:
-14.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
-13% of GDP (2013 est.)
-10.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 68.7%
government consumption: 31.4%
investment in fixed capital: 22.4%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 68.5%
imports of goods and services: -90.9%
(2014 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 20.1%
industry: 25.7%
services: 54.2%
(2014 est.)

Agriculture – products:
tobacco, corn, cotton, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts; sheep, goats, pigs

mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, diamonds, clay, numerous metallic and nonmetallic ores), steel; wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, beverages

Industrial production growth rate:
4.1% (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 69

Labor force:
5.634 million (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 71

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 66%
industry: 10%
services: 24% (1996)

Unemployment rate:
95% (2009 est.)
80% (2005 est.)
note: figures include unemployment and underemployment; true unemployment is unknown and, under current economic conditions, unknowable
* country comparison to the world: 204

Population below poverty line:
68% (2004)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 40.4% (1995)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
50.1 (2006)
50.1 (1995)
country comparison to the world: 21

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
NA% of GDP

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
NA% of GDP

Public debt:
181% of GDP (2014 est.)
181.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2014 est.)
8.6% (2013 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
7.17% (31 December 2010)
975% (31 December 2007)
* country comparison to the world: 43

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
22% (31 December 2014 est.)
28% (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 11

Stock of narrow money:
$43.43 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$23.04 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
note: Zimbabwe’s central bank no longer publishes data on monetary aggregates, except for bank deposits, which amounted to $2.1 billion in November 2010; the Zimbabwe dollar stopped circulating in early 2009; since then, the US dollar and South African rand have been the most frequently used currencies; there are no reliable estimates of the amount of foreign currency circulating in Zimbabwe
country comparison to the world: 54

Stock of broad money:
$47.64 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$101.1 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 69

Stock of domestic credit:
$14.07 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$9.844 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$11.82 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$10.9 billion (31 December 2011)
$11.48 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 71

Current account balance:
-$1.045 billion (2014 est.)
-$576 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122

$3.263 billion (2014 est.)
$3.144 billion (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 129

Exports – partners:
China 23.4%, South Africa 14.4%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 12%, Botswana 10.7% (2013)

Exports – commodities:
platinum, cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing

$5.135 billion (2014 est.)
$4.571 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129

Imports – commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, other manufactures, chemicals, fuels, food products

Imports – partners:
South Africa 49.1%, Zambia 9.6%, China 8.7% (2013)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$448 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$475 million (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152

Debt – external:
$9.361 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$8.71 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:

Exchange rates:
Zimbabwean dollars (ZWD) per US dollar –
NA (2013)
234.25 (2010)
234.25 (2009)
9,686.8 (2007)
note: the dollar was adopted as a legal currency in 2009; since then the Zimbabwean dollar has experienced hyperinflation and is essentially worthless

Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia

Geographic coordinates:
20 00 S, 30 00 E

Map references:

total: 390,757 sq km
land: 386,847 sq km
water: 3,910 sq km
* country comparison to the world: 61

Area – comparative:
slightly larger than Montana

Land boundaries:
total: 3,229 km
border countries (4): Botswana 834 km, Mozambique 1,402 km, South Africa 230 km, Zambia 763 km

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

tropical; moderated by altitude; rainy season (November to March)

mostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld); mountains in east

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Runde and Save Rivers 162 m
highest point: Inyangani 2,592 m

Natural resources:
coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals

Land use:
agricultural land: 42.5%
arable land 10.9%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 31.3%
forest: 39.5%
other: 18% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land:
1,735 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
20 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 4.21 cu km/yr (14%/7%/79%)
per capita: 333.5 cu m/yr (2002)

Natural hazards:
recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare

Environment – current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; land degradation; air and water pollution; the black rhinoceros herd – once the largest concentration of the species in the world – has been significantly reduced by poaching; poor mining practices have led to toxic waste and heavy metal pollution

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note:
landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zambia; in full flood (February-April) the massive Victoria Falls on the river forms the world’s largest curtain of falling water; Lake Kariba on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border forms the world’s largest reservoir by volume (180 cu km; 43 cu mi)

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