U.S. Department of State Background Note
Republic of Zimbabwe
Area: 390,580 sq. km. (150,760 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Montana.
Cities: Capital--Harare (pronounced Ha-RAR-e), pop. 1.5 million. Other towns--Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Gweru, Kwekwe, Masvingo, Marondera.
Terrain: Desert and savanna.
Climate: Mostly subtropical.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Zimbabwean (sing.), Zimbabweans (pl.).
Population (2003 est.): 12.5 million.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 0.83%. (Note: the population growth rate is depressed by an HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate estimated to be 18% and a high level of net emigration.)
Ethnic groups: Shona 71%, Ndebele 16%, other African 11%, white 1%, mixed and Asian 1%.
Religions: Christianity 75%, offshoot Christian sects, animist, and Muslim.
Languages: English (official), Shona, Sindebele.
Education: Attendance--mandatory for primary level. Adult literacy--90.5% (2004 est.).
Health: Infant mortality rate--51.7/1,000 (2006 est.). Life expectancy--men 37 (2006), women 34 (2006).
Work force (2006 est.): 900,000 in formal sector.
Constitution: December 21, 1979.
Independence: April 18, 1980.
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state and head of government), Cabinet. Legislative--In the 150-seat House of Assembly, 120 seats are popularly elected and 30 are directly appointed by the president or selected through a process strongly influenced by him. In the 66 seat Senate, 50 seats are popularly elected, 6 are directly appointed by the president, 8 chiefs are elected from the 8 rural provinces (excluding the metropolitan provinces), and 2 are the president and vice president of the Council of Chiefs. Judicial--High Court, Court of Appeal, local and customary courts.
Administrative subdivisions: Town Councils and District Councils.
Main political parties: Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); United Peoples Party (UPP).