Zimbabwe was previously one of Africa’s richest countries. After many years of economic downturn, poor political governance, and failed crops, the country is now in crisis.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Harare
- Ethnic groups: Shona 82%, ndebele 14%, other/unspecified 4%
- Language: English, Shona, Sindebele, several minor languages and dialects
- Religion: Protestants 82.7%, Roman Catholic 6.7%, other Christians 4.6%, traditional religion 0.6%, other/none 5.4% (2015)
- Population: 16 150 36 (World Bank 2016)
- Control Form: Parliamentary democracy
- Area: 390 760 km2
- Currency: Zimbabwean dollar
- GNP per capita: 2,027 PPP $
- National Day: April 18th
The population of Zimbabwe is estimated at 16,913,261 (2018). Annual population growth is 1.7 percent (2018). According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy was 34 years for women and 37 years for men in 2004, but in 2018 it had increased to 63 years for women and 59 years for men.
Zimbabwe is very hard hit by the AIDS epidemic. Around 13 percent of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS (2018) and an estimated 160,000 children (under 15) are infected. In addition, about 1.1 million children have become orphans due to the epidemic. These figures are subject to uncertainty.
The population consists mainly of various Bantu people. Largest groups are shona and ndebele. While the Shona population is distributed throughout the country, with the exception of the large areas along the central plateau, the ndebels live mainly around the city of Bulawayo. The areas along the central plateau were reserved for European settlement during the colonial period. The Shonas are divided into a number of subgroups that partly have traditions such as their own tribes and partly established as administrative units under the colonial rule.
There are nearly 6500 Asians in Zimbabwe, essentially Indians doing business. About 25,000 are of mixed, essentially Eurasian origin, the so-called coloureds. From the mid-1970s, the European population has declined significantly due to emigration, from about 280,000 in 1972 to less than 100,000 in 1997 and 10 years later, somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000.
The majority of the population lives in rural areas. Major cities are the capital Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza.
Around 70 percent of the population is Christian, most are Protestants (including Anglicans), but the Catholic Church also has a strong position. A large part of the African population are supporters of traditional, local religions. The Asian minority consists of Muslims, Baha’is and Hindus.
English is the official language. Around 75 percent of the population speaks shona, almost 15 percent ndebele, which together with dozens of other languages in Zimbabwe belong to the bantu languages.