Zimbabwe is set in south-central Africa, between two of the well-known African rivers, the Limpopo and the Zambezi. It won its independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was one of the oldest and longest-serving leaders of a non-royal country in the world. He has served as the leader of Zimbabwe for the past 36 years. He was succeeded in 2017.
Zimbabwe is home to Victoria Falls, one of the world’s biggest and most spectacular waterfalls. It is located on the Zambezi River, stretches wider than a kilometer, and has a height of more than one hundred meters (twice the size of Niagara Falls!). It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. In 1855, explorer David Livingstone sailed his canoe to one of the small islands on the lip of the falls. He cut his initials and the date into the bark of a tree on the island. He later re-christened the falls in honor of Queen Victoria. Today, his statue gazes over the falls.
Additionally, Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. 86.5% of its population is literate. It also has 16 official languages – more than any other country in the world. They include English, Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and sign language!
A majority of Zimbabwe residents come from Bantu-speaking migrants who traveled east and south across Africa around 2000 years ago. These were iron makers and agriculturists who established much of Zimbabwe’s culture today. Around half of Zimbabweans attend Christian churches. However, like most former European colonies, Christianity is often mixed with indigenous beliefs.
Sports are also an important part of Zimbabwe culture. Football is by far the most popular sport, similar to the majority of the African population. Rugby union and cricket are also played. In particular, cricket has found a strong following in modern-day Zimbabwe.