48 Interesting Facts about Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a South African country located between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. The country has 16 official languages.

Here are 48 interesting facts about Zimbabwe, its history, people, Victoria Falls and much more…

1. The first people of the country were the Bantu-speaking Iron Age farmers that settled in the region around AD 300.

2. Zimbabwe’s Presidents is one of the current oldest and also longest serving leaders of a non-royal country in the world. His is 91 years old and he has served as president of this country for 36 years. He is ranked at the fourth position on the list of the current longest running presidents in the world.

3. Most countries in the world have their own currencies unless they are still under the rule of another country. But Zimbabwe is among the few countries in the world that abandoned their own currencies to use other countries. This happened after the massive inflation that hit the country in 2008. The country abandoned its currency and has been using the U.S. Dollar, the South African Rand, the Sterling Pound, and the Botswana Pula since April 12 2009.

4. It is illegal in Zimbabwe for the police to impound your vehicle on the road. The only occasion when they can do so is when they ask you to produce your driver’s license.

5. Zimbabwe only won three medals in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. This might not be news to you, but what makes this interesting is the fact that all these medals were won by one athlete named Kirsty Coventry.

6. Zimbabwe is a landlocked plateau country.

Interesting facts about Zimbabwe: zimbabwe map
Interesting facts about Zimbabwe: Landlocked Zimbabwe

7. The name of the country was derived from the fortified trading hub, Great Zimbabwe, which was built in medieval times and was used by the people of the ‘Shona’ tribe. The people of this tribe constitute about 70% of the country’s current population.

8. Zimbabwe was once a very rich country.

9. Can you imagine carrying a wheelbarrow load of money to the store only to buy something that only costs one dollar in other countries? Well, in 2008, Zimbabwe experienced a whopping 231 million percent inflation. This means that you had to carry 231 million one dollar notes to buy something that in other places you could have only carried a single one dollar note.

10. The country has one of the world’s highest inflation and unemployment rates.

11. Manufacturing, mining and farming constitute the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy.

12. Zimbabwe became independent from the United Kingdom on April 18, 1980. They celebrate their national day on this day to commemorate their independence.

13. Zimbabweans mostly call every kind of toothpaste “Colgate,” every soft drink “Coke,” every washing powder “Surf” and every floor polish “Cobra.”

14. For most people, power shortages and blackouts are a strange occurrence, and when it happens, power is restored in a very short time. But in Zimbabwe, blackouts are quite frequent and random, and when they occur, they can last for up to 3 hours or even more.

15. Zimbabwe has the lowest life expectancy in the world. Females can expect to live 34 years and males survive for 37 years, on average.

16. As per data (UNICEF, 2012), more than 1.4 million people in the country are living with AIDS.

17. The ‘mbira’, which is a small hand-held instrument, has been played for more than 1,000 years in Zimbabwe. This instrument is also commonly referred to as a ‘thumb piano.’

18. Mwari is the name of the deity of the Shona tribespeople in Zimbabwe. They have been believing in this deity for centuries.

19. Zimbabwe is suffering from shortage of health care professionals. Many of the country’s health care professionals left Zimbabwe in search of better opportunities elsewhere in the world. Spiritual healing advice is still used by many people for minor and major ailments. HIV/AIDS is prevalent in the country, and has been cited as the cause of death of thousands of people in the last few years.

20. We have all heard about mermaids and most of us believe that they are a myth and just characters in children animations and stories. But in Zimbabwe, there is a strong belief that mermaids exist. In fact, these mythical creatures are often blamed for unfortunate events such as kidnapping, torture, and murder.

21. Cholera and malaria are two major diseases in the country. Malaria is prevalent in low-lying border areas. More than 760,000 cases of malaria were reported by WHO in 2009, while one third of its minor population suffers from chronic malnutrition.

22. As most men in the world try to shade their large tummies for flat ones, the opposite is true in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans see pot bellies in men as a sign of success and wealth. 

23. Imagine being isolated and stigmatized by your local community just because you divorced with your spouse. In Zimbabwe, divorce is a stigma. This does not mean that it is illegal in the country to divorce. However, it is only women who are allowed to get divorced, though it is very rare.

24. In terms of the land area Zimbabwe covers, it is three times the size of England.

Click here to sponsor a child in Zimbabwe today. They need our help to fight hunger and get educated.

10 Interesting facts about Victoria Falls

25. The largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls, is located on the Zambezi River. It is the world’s only waterfall that is wider than a kilometer and has a height of more than one hundred meters.

26. The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometers.

27. You can notice spray and mist from the falling water from a height of 400 meters, and it can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometers.

28. Mosi-O-Tunya is the name given to the falls by the local tribe. It translates to ‘The smoke that thunders.’

29. The waterfall was named after Queen Victoria by well-known explorer of Africa David Livingstone (1813-1873).

30. The waterfall was discovered in 1855.

Interesting facts about Zimbabwe: View of Victoria falls
Interesting facts about Victoria Falls: View of Victoria falls. Photo Credit

31. The waterfall started attracting tourists between 1905, when a railway to Bulawayo was constructed, and the 1960s when a guerilla struggle in Zimbabwe threatened visitors entering the country. However, after independence, the waterfall started attracting tourists in large numbers once again.

32. The waterfall is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the people from both countries – Zambia and Zimbabwe – are actively participating to develop tourism in the region.

33. During floods, the water flow capacity can reach approximately half a million liters per minute.

34. October and early November see the lowest level of water flow in the falls.

5 facts about hunger in Zimbabwe

35. An estimated 1.5 million people are projected to be “food insecure” during the 2015-2016 lean season.

36. Chronic malnutrition causes 28% of children under the age of five to experience stunted growth (low height for their age).

37. 76% of the country’s rural households live on less than $1.25 per day.

38. Zimbabwe is ranked 156 out of 187 developing countries on the Global Hunger Index. It is a low-income and food-deficit country.

39. Only 17.3% of Zimbabwean children between the ages of 6 and 23 months receive the recommended minimum diet for adequate nutrition.

40. Cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys and textiles/clothing comprise the major items that Zimbabwe exports.

41. A hydroelectric power station was set up in 1950 on the Dam Kariba. The electricity from the power station is provided to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

42. Amazingly, Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. 90% of its population is literate.

43. The International Organization for Migration estimates that millions of Zimbabweans have left their home country in search of better living conditions and food security in other African countries.

44. Many of its citizens are forced to survive on only a meal per day due to food shortage and crises.

45. ‘Mount Inyangani,’ at 2,592 meters, is the highest point in the country.

46. The capital Harare was formerly called Salisbury in 1890 in honor of the British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.

47. The country is void of any place that can properly be called desert. However, a few regions in the country are severely arid.

48. The lowest point in Zimbabwe lies at an altitude of 660 feet near Dumela, where the Limpopo flows into Mozambique.

Learn more about Great Zimbabwe facts here.

Zimbabwe Country Facts

National Anthem"Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe" [Northern Ndebele language] "Simudzai Mureza WeZimbabwe" [Shona] (Blessed Be the Land of Zimbabwe)
Capital CityHarare
17°50′S 31°3′E
Largest CityHarare
17°50′S 31°3′E
Population14,546,961 (2016)
Government typesemi-presidential republic
Official Language16 languages including English, Shona and Ndebele.
Total area390,757 sq km
Agricultural land42.5%
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,100 (2015 est.)
National symbol(s)Zimbabwe bird symbol, African fish eagle, flame lily; national colors: green, yellow, red, black, white
Life expectancy57.95 years (2016)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
BordersBotswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Namibia
ReligionRoman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Methodism.
CurrencyUnited States dollar
Terrainmostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld); mountains in east
Natural resourcescoal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals
Birth rate32.26 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate10.13 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence18 April 1980 (from the UK)
Industriesmining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, diamonds, clay, numerous metallic and nonmetallic ores), steel; wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, beverages
Exports$3.301 billion (2015 est.)
platinum, cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing
Imports$5.207 billion (2015 est.)
machinery and transport equipment, other manufactures, chemicals, fuels, food products
Internet country code.zw
Internet users2.328 million
percent of population: 16.4% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+263
Time ZoneCentral Africa Time (UTC+2)
Drives on theLeft

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  1. A bunch of these “facts” are opinions to be direct. Being a Zimbabwean and living in Zimbabwe this information is largely outdated, inaccurate and overall misleading. E.g this is mistaken “Zimbabweans see big stomach in men as a sign of wealth. This indicates that the person is financially sound to eat meat daily”. I suggest the editors look into redoing a proper fact file with verified information.

    • Sure, we will look into the details and correct them if found false. thanks a lot for stopping by and making an important comment. 🙂

  2. Arthur, we have gone through the facts mentioned here and they all have been verified. For your kind reference, we have also provided a list of the sources used for compiling the factfile. Thanks!

  3. Comment:
    Some facts are true,some are surprising, some are slightly off, some are fact of opinion.
    also take note.
    1.Kariba is a Dam not a river.
    2.the literacy rate is now over 90% and is currently the highest in africa.
    3.religion also includes adventism & islam. by general observation the country with the highest adoption of Christianity, with fewer to no athiests and a low number of muslim.
    4.has four major cities Harare, Bulawayo,Gweru,Mutare and Masvingo in that order.
    5.Contray to most but not all Westerners, Zimbabweans dont hate “white” people they hate anyone with hypocrisy,supriority tendencies, injustice, violence, racists and manipulation. the cases that involve violence against “white” people were conduct by a few extremists,hence violence against foriegners is not a common thing.(infact i challenge you do do your own survey now).
    6. Dispite the obvious existence of murderous criminals and ritualists , most common Zimbabweans believe in total absolute peace and have a high regard for life.
    7. Dispite bieng highly literate most Zimbabweans prefer humility over pomp.
    8. Zimbabwe’s high adoption of education and intolerance to radical religion, has led us to accept dissability, albenism and quick action towards killer diseases.
    9. Zimbabweans are literate enough to know or find out whats going on in the global village, since technology is reaching most parts of the still developing realms.
    10. The best way to get first hand information about Zimbabwe is to visit the country especially now. So i hope those are first hand facts.

    • Thank you Wezhira. Please check our other Country fact files on the website as well. There is a lot of interesting information to read. 🙂