Sunlight penetrating the mist thrown up at Victoria Falls can create rainbows. The power, height, and majesty of the falls are all evident in this scene.
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The hunter-gatherer San people first inhabited the area that eventually became Zimbabwe. Farming communities migrated to the area around A.D. 500 during the Bantu expansion, and Shona-speaking societies began to develop in the Limpopo valley and Zimbabwean highlands around the 9th century. These societies traded with Arab merchants on the Indian Ocean coast and organized under the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in the 11th century. A series of powerful trade-oriented Shona states succeeded Mapungubwe, including the Kingdom of Zimbabwe (ca. 1220-1450), Kingdom of Mutapa (ca. 1450-1760), and the Rozwi Empire. The Rozwi Empire expelled Portuguese colonists from the Zimbabwean plateau but was eventually conquered in 1838 by the Ndebele clan of Zulu general MZILIKAZI during the era of conflict and population displacement known as the Mfecane. In the 1880s, colonists arrived with the British South Africa Company (BSAC) and obtained a written concession for mining rights from Ndebele King LOBENGULA. The king later disavowed the concession and accused the BSAC agents of deceit. The BSAC annexed Mashonaland and subsequently conquered Matabeleland by force during the First Matabele War of 1893-1894 to establish company rule over the territory. BSAC holdings south of the Zambezi River were annexed by the UK in 1923 and became the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. The 1930 Land Apportionment Act restricted Black land ownership and established structural racial inequalities that would favor the White minority for decades. A new constitution in 1961 further cemented White minority rule.

In 1965, the government under White Prime Minister Ian SMITH unilaterally declared its independence from the UK. London did not recognize Rhodesia’s independence and demanded more voting rights for the Black majority in the country. International diplomacy and a liberation struggle by Black Zimbabweans finally led to biracial elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, who led the uprising and became the nation's first prime minister, was the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) from independence until his forced resignation in November 2017. In the mid-1980s, the government tortured and killed thousands of civilians in a crackdown on dissent known as the Gukurahundi campaign. Economic mismanagement and chaotic land redistribution policies following independence periodically crippled the economy and resulted in widespread shortages of basic commodities. General elections in 2002, 2008, and 2013 were severely flawed and widely condemned but allowed MUGABE to remain president. In November 2017, Vice President Emmerson MNANGAGWA became president following a military intervention that forced MUGABE to resign, and MNANGAGWA cemented power by sidelining rivals Grace MUGABE (Robert MUGABE’s wife) and Jonathan MOYO of the G40 faction of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party. In July 2018, MNANGAGWA won the presidential election after a close contest with opposition candidate Nelson CHAMISA. MNANGAGWA has resorted to the government's longstanding practice of violently disrupting protests and opposition rallies. Economic conditions remained dire under MNANGAGWA, with inflation soaring in 2019 and the country’s export revenues declining dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia

Geographic coordinates

20 00 S, 30 00 E


total: 390,757 sq km

land: 386,847 sq km

water: 3,910 sq km

country comparison to the world: 62

Area - comparative

about four times the size of Indiana; slightly larger than Montana

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

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


highest point: Inyangani 2,592 m

lowest point: junction of the Runde and Save Rivers 162 m

mean elevation: 961 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 42.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 31.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 39.5% (2018 est.)

other: 18% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

1,740 sq km (2012)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zambezi (shared with Zambia [s]), Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km; Limpopo (shared with South Africa [s], Botswana, and Mozambique [m]) - 1,800 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Okavango Basin (863,866 sq km)

Major aquifers

Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Population distribution

Aside from major urban agglomerations in Harare and Bulawayo, population distribution is fairly even, with slightly greater overall numbers in the eastern half as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare

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)

People and Society


noun: Zimbabwean(s)

adjective: Zimbabwean

Ethnic groups

African 99.4% (predominantly Shona; Ndebele is the second largest ethnic group), other 0.4%, unspecified 0.2% (2012 est.)


Shona (official; most widely spoken), Ndebele (official, second most widely spoken), English (official; traditionally used for official business), 13 minority languages (official; includes Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa)


Protestant 74.8% (includes Apostolic 37.5%, Pentecostal 21.8%, other 15.5%), Roman Catholic 7.3%, other Christian 5.3%, traditional 1.5%, Muslim 0.5%, other 0.1%, none 10.5% (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Zimbabwe’s progress in reproductive, maternal, and child health has stagnated in recent years. According to a 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, contraceptive use, the number of births attended by skilled practitioners, and child mortality have either stalled or somewhat deteriorated since the mid-2000s. Zimbabwe’s total fertility rate has remained fairly stable at about 4 children per woman for the last two decades, although an uptick in the urban birth rate in recent years has caused a slight rise in the country’s overall fertility rate. Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate dropped from approximately 29% to 15% since 1997 but remains among the world’s highest and continues to suppress the country’s life expectancy rate. The proliferation of HIV/AIDS information and prevention programs and personal experience with those suffering or dying from the disease have helped to change sexual behavior and reduce the epidemic.

Historically, the vast majority of Zimbabwe’s migration has been internal – a rural-urban flow. In terms of international migration, over the last 40 years Zimbabwe has gradually shifted from being a destination country to one of emigration and, to a lesser degree, one of transit (for East African illegal migrants traveling to South Africa). As a British colony, Zimbabwe attracted significant numbers of permanent immigrants from the UK and other European countries, as well as temporary economic migrants from Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Although Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa since the beginning of the 20th century to work as miners, the first major exodus from the country occurred in the years before and after independence in 1980. The outward migration was politically and racially influenced; a large share of the white population of European origin chose to leave rather than live under a new black-majority government.

In the 1990s and 2000s, economic mismanagement and hyperinflation sparked a second, more diverse wave of emigration. This massive outmigration – primarily to other southern African countries, the UK, and the US – has created a variety of challenges, including brain drain, illegal migration, and human smuggling and trafficking. Several factors have pushed highly skilled workers to go abroad, including unemployment, lower wages, a lack of resources, and few opportunities for career growth.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.16% (male 2,920,951/female 2,962,652)

15-64 years: 57.32% (male 4,417,612/female 4,419,769)

65 years and over: 4.52% (2023 est.) (male 269,329/female 428,361)

2023 population pyramid
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 79.4

youth dependency ratio: 73.4

elderly dependency ratio: 6

potential support ratio: 16.6 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 20.5 years

male: 20.3 years

female: 20.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Birth rate

32.77 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Death rate

8.51 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Net migration rate

-4.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Population distribution

Aside from major urban agglomerations in Harare and Bulawayo, population distribution is fairly even, with slightly greater overall numbers in the eastern half as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 32.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.41% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.578 million HARARE (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.63 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.3 years (2015 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

357 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 26

Infant mortality rate

total: 27.67 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 31.22 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 24.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 63.79 years

male: 61.65 years

female: 66 years (2023 est.)

country comparison to the world: 209

Gross reproduction rate

1.91 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.9% of population

rural: 66.9% of population

total: 76.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.1% of population

rural: 33.1% of population

total: 23.1% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.4% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.2 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 96.1% of population

rural: 49% of population

total: 64.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.9% of population

rural: 51% of population

total: 35.8% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.11 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.2 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.05 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.39 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 1.47 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

Tobacco use

total: 11.7% (2020 est.)

male: 21.8% (2020 est.)

female: 1.5% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 5.4%

women married by age 18: 33.7%

men married by age 18: 1.9% (2019 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write English

total population: 89.7%

male: 88.3%

female: 89.7% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 12 years

female: 11 years (2013)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 7.3%

male: 6.2%

female: 8.5% (2021 est.)


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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 19.35 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 10.98 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 12.1 megatons (2020 est.)


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

Land use

agricultural land: 42.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 31.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 39.5% (2018 est.)

other: 18% (2018 est.)


urban population: 32.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.41% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to high food prices - based on a government assessment, an estimated 3.8 million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian assistance between January and March 2023; this number is higher than the level estimated in the first quarter of 2022; the downturn in food security conditions is largely on account of poor food access resulting from prevailing high food prices and reduced incomes owing to the effects of an economic downturn; a decline in cereal production in 2022 has also aggravated conditions (2023)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,449,752 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 231,960 tons (2005 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 16% (2005 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zambezi (shared with Zambia [s]), Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km; Limpopo (shared with South Africa [s], Botswana, and Mozambique [m]) - 1,800 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Okavango Basin (863,866 sq km)

Major aquifers

Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 650 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 80 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 3.04 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

20 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Zimbabwe

conventional short form: Zimbabwe

former: Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia

etymology: takes its name from the Kingdom of Zimbabwe (13th-15th century) and its capital of Great Zimbabwe, the largest stone structure in pre-colonial southern Africa

Government type

presidential republic


name: Harare

geographic coordinates: 17 49 S, 31 02 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after a village of Harare at the site of the present capital; the village name derived from a Shona chieftain, NE-HARAWA, whose name meant "he who does not sleep"

Administrative divisions

8 provinces and 2 cities* with provincial status; Bulawayo*, Harare*, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands


18 April 1980 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 April (1980)


history: previous 1965 (at Rhodesian independence), 1979 (Lancaster House Agreement), 1980 (at Zimbabwean independence); latest final draft completed January 2013, approved by referendum 16 March 2013, approved by Parliament 9 May 2013, effective 22 May 2013

amendments: proposed by the Senate or by the National Assembly; passage requires two-thirds majority vote by the membership of both houses of Parliament and assent of the president of the republic; amendments to constitutional chapters on fundamental human rights and freedoms and on agricultural lands also require approval by a majority of votes cast in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2017

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, Roman-Dutch civil law, and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Zimbabwe; in the case of a child born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Emmerson Dambudzo MNANGAGWA (since 24 November 2017); First Vice President Constantino CHIWENGA (since 28 December 2017); note - Robert Gabriel MUGABE resigned on 21 November 2017, after ruling for 37 years

head of government: President Emmerson Dambudzo MNANGAGWA (since 24 November 2017); Vice President Constantino CHIWENGA (since 28 December 2017); 

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president, responsible to National Assembly

elections/appointments: each presidential candidate nominated with a nomination paper signed by at least 10 registered voters (at least 1 candidate from each province) and directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 3 July 2018 (next to be held in 2023); co-vice presidents drawn from party leadership

election results: Emmerson MNANGAGWA reelected president in 1st round of voting; percent of vote - Emmerson MNANGAGWA (ZANU-PF) 50.8%, Nelson CHAMISA (MDC-T) 44.3%, Thokozani KHUPE (MDC-N) 0.9%, other 3%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (80 seats; 60 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - 6 seats in each of the 10 provinces - by proportional representation vote, 16 indirectly elected by the regional governing councils, 2 reserved for the National Council Chiefs, and 2 reserved for members with disabilities; members serve 5-year terms)
National Assembly (270 seats; 210 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 60 seats reserved for women directly elected by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held for elected member on 30 July 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
National Assembly - last held on 30 July 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ZANU-PF 34, MDC Alliance 25, Chiefs 18, people with disabilities 2, MDC-T 1; composition - men 45, women 35, percent of women 43.8%
National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ZANU-PF 179, MDC Alliance 88, MDC-T 1, NPF 1, independent 1; composition - men 184, women 81, percent of women 31.5%; note - total Parliament percent of women 34.3%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 4 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of the chief and deputy chief justices and 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president upon recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, an independent body consisting of the chief justice, Public Service Commission chairman, attorney general, and 2-3 members appointed by the president; judges normally serve until age 65 but can elect to serve until age 70; Constitutional Court judge appointment NA; judges serve nonrenewable 15-year terms

subordinate courts: High Court; Labor Court; Administrative Court; regional magistrate courts; customary law courts; special courts

Political parties and leaders

Citizens Coalition for Change [Nelson CHAMISA] 
Movement for Democratic Change - MDC-T [Douglas MWONZORA]
National People's Party or NPP [Conrad SANGMA] (formerly Zimbabwe People First or ZimPF)
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF [Emmerson Dambudzo MNANGAGWA]
Zimbabwe African Peoples Union or ZAPU [Michael NKOMO]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Tadeous Tafirenyika CHIFAMBA (since 7 July 2021);

chancery: 1608 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 332-7100

FAX: [1] (202) 483-9326

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d'Affaires Thomas R. HASTINGS (since August 2021)

embassy: 2 Lorraine Drive, Bluffhill, Harare

mailing address: 2180 Harare Place, Washington DC  20521-2180

telephone: [263] 867-701-1000

FAX: [263] 24-233-4320

email address and website:

Flag description

seven equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, red, black, red, yellow, and green with a white isosceles triangle edged in black with its base on the hoist side; a yellow Zimbabwe bird representing the long history of the country is superimposed on a red five-pointed star in the center of the triangle, which symbolizes peace; green represents agriculture, yellow mineral wealth, red the blood shed to achieve independence, and black stands for the native people

National symbol(s)

Zimbabwe bird symbol, African fish eagle, flame lily; national colors: green, yellow, red, black, white

National anthem

name: "Kalibusiswe Ilizwe leZimbabwe" [Northern Ndebele language] "Simudzai Mureza WeZimbabwe" [Shona] (Blessed Be the Land of Zimbabwe)

lyrics/music: Solomon MUTSWAIRO/Fred Lecture CHANGUNDEGA

note: adopted 1994

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 5 (3 cultural, 2 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Mana Pools National Park, Sapi, and Chewore Safari Areas (n); Great Zimbabwe National Monument (c); Khami Ruins National Monument (c); Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (n); Matobo Hills (c)


Economic overview

low income Sub-Saharan economy; political instability, protest crackdowns, and COVID-19 have damaged economic potential; reliant on natural resource extraction and agriculture; endemic corruption; ongoing hyperinflation

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$33.829 billion (2021 est.)

$31.188 billion (2020 est.)

$33.832 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 134

Real GDP growth rate

8.47% (2021 est.)

-7.82% (2020 est.)

-6.33% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Real GDP per capita

$2,100 (2021 est.)

$2,000 (2020 est.)

$2,200 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 212

GDP (official exchange rate)

$21.441 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

98.55% (2021 est.)

557.2% (2020 est.)

255.3% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 224

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 12% (2017 est.)

industry: 22.2% (2017 est.)

services: 65.8% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 77.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 12.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 25.6% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -39.9% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, maize, milk, tobacco, cassava, vegetables, bananas, beef, cotton, oranges


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

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 67.5%

industry: 7.3%

services: 25.2% (2017 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.17% (2021 est.)

5.35% (2020 est.)

4.83% (2019 est.)

note: data include both unemployment and underemployment; true unemployment is unknown and, under current economic conditions, unknowable

country comparison to the world: 84

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2%

highest 10%: 40.4% (1995)


revenues: $17 million (2018 est.)

expenditures: $23 million (2018 est.)

Public debt

82.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

69.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 42

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$1.096 billion (2020 est.)

$920.472 million (2019 est.)

-$1.38 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48


$5.263 billion (2020 est.)

$5.267 billion (2019 est.)

$5.178 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 40%, South Africa 23%, Mozambique 9% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, tobacco, iron alloys, nickel, diamonds, jewelry (2019)


$5.489 billion (2020 est.)

$5.398 billion (2019 est.)

$7.642 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Imports - partners

South Africa 41%, Singapore 23%, China 8% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, delivery trucks, packaged medicines, fertilizers, tractors (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$838.78 million (31 December 2021 est.)

$33.405 million (31 December 2020 est.)

$151.241 million (31 December 2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Debt - external

$9.357 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$10.14 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Exchange rates

Zimbabwean dollars (ZWD) per US dollar -

88.552 (2021 est.)

51.329 (2020 est.)

16.446 (2019 est.)

322.355 (2018 est.)

note: the dollar was adopted as a legal currency in 2009; since then the Zimbabwean dollar has experienced hyperinflation and is essentially worthless


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 53% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 89% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 36% (2019)


installed generating capacity: 2.473 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 10,928,240,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 504 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 1.612 billion kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.491 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 32.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 65.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 3.888 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 3.579 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 327,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 502 million metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 800 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 27,300 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

7.902 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 3.963 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 3.94 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 115


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 243,421 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 118

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 14,257,590 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 89 (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Zimbabwe’s telcos continue to be affected by the country’s poor economy; this has been exacerbated by the significant economic difficulties related to the pandemic; revenue has also been under pressure from a number of recent regulatory measures and additional taxes imposed by the cash-strapped government; inflation has become so high that year-on-year revenue comparisons since 2019 have been difficult to assess meaningfully; the three MNOs continue to invest in network upgrades, partly supported by government efforts and cash released from the Universal Service Fund; as a result of these investments, LTE networks have expanded steadily, though services remain concentrated in urban areas; international bandwidth has improved since fiber links to several submarine cables were established via neighboring countries; the expansion of 3G and LTE-based mobile broadband services has meant that most of the population has access to the internet; the government has started a national broadband scheme aimed at delivering a 1Mb/s service nationally by 2030; investment in fixed broadband infrastructure has also resulted in a slow but steady growth in the number of DSL connections, and also fiber subscriptions; during 2021, most growth in the fixed broadband segment has been with fiber connections (2022)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity is 2 per 100 and mobile-cellular is 89 per 100 (2021)

international: country code - 263; fiber-optic connections to neighboring states provide access to international networks via undersea cable; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat; 5 international digital gateway exchanges

Broadcast media

government owns all local radio and TV stations; foreign shortwave broadcasts and satellite TV are available to those who can afford antennas and receivers; in rural areas, access to TV broadcasts is extremely limited; analog TV only, no digital service (2017)

Internet users

total: 5.6 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 35% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 203,461 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 12

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 285,539 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 670,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways


note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)

Airports - with unpaved runways


note: unpaved runways have a surface composition such as grass or packed earth and are most suited to the operation of light aircraft; unpaved runways are usually short, often less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft.) in length; airports with unpaved runways often lack facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control


270 km refined products (2013)


total: 3,427 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 3,427 km (2014) 1.067-m gauge (313 km electrified)

country comparison to the world: 55


total: 97,267 km (2019)

paved: 18,481 km (2019)

unpaved: 78,786 km (2019)

country comparison to the world: 48


223 km (2022) some navigation possible on Lake Kariba (223 km)

country comparison to the world: 104

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Binga, Kariba (Zambezi)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF): Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ); Ministry of Home Affairs: Zimbabwe Republic Police (2023)

Military expenditures

2.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

1.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

1.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

1.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

1.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 30,000 active duty troops, including about 4,000 Air Force personnel (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ZDF inventory is comprised mostly of Soviet-era and older Chinese equipment; since the early 2000s, Zimbabwe has been under an arms embargo from the EU, as well as targeted sanctions from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US (2022)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service (18-24 for officer cadets; 18-30 for technical/specialist personnel); no conscription; women are eligible to serve (2022)

Military - note

ZDF’s primary responsibilities are protecting the country’s sovereignty and territory and securing its borders; it also has a considerable role in domestic security and has continued to be active in the country’s politics since the 2017 coup; the ZDF is part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Standby Force and has provided troops to the SADC deployment to Mozambique; Zimbabwe has defense ties with China and Russia; the Army has approximately 5 light infantry brigades, plus brigades of mechanized infantry, presidential guards, special operations, and artillery; the Air Force has a few dozen operational Chinese- and Russian-made combat aircraft and helicopters 

the ZDF was formed after independence from the former Rhodesian Army and the two guerrilla forces that opposed it during the Rhodesian Civil War (aka "Bush War") of the 1970s, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA); the ZDF intervened in the Mozambique Civil War (1983-1992), the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Second Congo War (1998-2003), and the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002) during the late 1990s (2023)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Zimbabwe-Mozambique: none identified

Zimbabwe-South Africa:
South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration

in 2004, Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river; in May 2021, Botswana and Zambia agreed in principle to let Zimbabwe be a partner in the bridge project as it enters its lasts phase

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 11,761 (Democratic Republic of Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers), 9,907 (Mozambique) (2023)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Zimbabwe does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government investigated and prosecuted human trafficking cases and conducted training for law enforcement, immigration, and other key officials; however, Zimbabwe did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts to increase anti-trafficking capacity; officials did not amend laws to criminalize all forms of trafficking, did not identify or provide care for any trafficking victims, nor convict any traffickers; therefore Zimbabwe remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year (2022)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Zimbabwe, as well as Zimbabweans abroad; internal trafficking is prevalent and underreported, with adults and children exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor in cattle herding, domestic service, and the mining sectors; most child labor occurs in the agricultural sector; Zimbabwean women and girls from towns bordering South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia are subjected to forced labor, including domestic servitude, and sex trafficking catering to long-distance truck drivers; Zimbabwean men and children are exploited in illegal diamond and gold mining, and some children are exploited by sex traffickers in illegal mining areas; Zimbabwean women and men are lured into forced labor in neighboring countries, particularly South Africa and the Middle East; women are sex trafficked in South Africa by international criminal syndicates, while traffickers force others into domestic servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking in Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, China, and Uganda, often under the guise of legitimate employment; Zimbabwe is a transit country for Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians, and Zambians en route to South Africa, and is also a destination country for forced labor and sex trafficking (2022)

Illicit drugs

transit point for cannabis and South Asian heroin, methaqualone, and methamphetamines en route to South Africa