Photos of Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River as seen from space. The Zambezi flows southeast in a wide bed before plunging suddenly 108 meters over the Victoria Falls into a narrow gorge. The falls and their famous spray clouds are 1.7 km (1.1 mi) long during flood season, the longest sheet of falling water in the world. The falls appear as a ragged white line in this image. The small town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe appears just west of the falls, with smaller tourist facilities on the east bank in Zambia. Image courtesy of NASA.



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 the Ndebele clan of Zulu King MZILIKAZI eventually conquered the area in 1838 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 then conquered Matabeleland during the First Matabele War of 1893-1894, establishing company rule over the territory. In 1923, the UK annexed BSAC holdings south of the Zambezi River, which became the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. The 1930 Land Apportionment Act restricted Black land ownership and established rules 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 an uprising by Black Zimbabweans 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 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 implementation of land redistribution policies periodically crippled the economy. General elections in 2002, 2008, and 2013 were severely flawed and widely condemned but allowed MUGABE to remain president. In 2017, Vice President Emmerson MNANGAGWA became president after a military intervention that forced MUGABE to resign, and MNANGAGWA cemented power by sidelining rival Grace MUGABE (Robert MUGABE’s wife). In 2018, MNANGAGWA won the presidential election, and he has maintained the government's longstanding practice of violently disrupting protests and politicizing institutions. Economic conditions remain dire under MNANGAGWA.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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

comparison ranking: total 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


total: 17,150,352

male: 8,343,790

female: 8,806,562 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 72; male 72; total 72


noun: Zimbabwean(s)

adjective: Zimbabwean

Ethnic groups

African 99.6% (predominantly Shona; Ndebele is the second largest ethnic group), other (includes Caucasian, Asiatic, mixed race) 0.4% (2022 est.)


Shona (official; most widely spoken) 80.9%, Ndebele (official, second most widely spoken) 11.5%, English (official; traditionally used for official business) 0.3%, 13 minority languages (official; includes Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa) 7%, other 0.3% (2022 est.)

note: data represent population by mother tongue


Apostolic Sect 40.3%, Pentecostal 17%, Protestant 13.8%, other Christian 7.8%, Roman Catholic 6.4%, African traditionalist 5%, other 1.5% (includes Muslim, Jewish, Hindu), none 8.3% (2022 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: 38.3% (male 3,315,075/female 3,254,643)

15-64 years: 57.8% (male 4,758,120/female 5,152,773)

65 years and over: 3.9% (2024 est.) (male 270,595/female 399,146)

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: 21.2 years (2024 est.)

male: 20.3 years

female: 22 years

comparison ranking: total 194

Population growth rate

1.91% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 44

Birth rate

28.8 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 29

Death rate

6.5 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 136

Net migration rate

-3.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 184

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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

1.578 million HARARE (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2024 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.)

comparison ranking: 26

Infant mortality rate

total: 33.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 37 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 29.6 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 39

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 67.2 years (2024 est.)

male: 65.6 years

female: 68.8 years

comparison ranking: total population 198

Total fertility rate

3.47 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 36

Gross reproduction rate

1.71 (2024 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, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

15.5% (2016)

comparison ranking: 126

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.)

comparison ranking: total 110

Tobacco use

total: 11.7% (2020 est.)

male: 21.8% (2020 est.)

female: 1.5% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 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.)

Education expenditures

3.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 123


definition: any person age 15 and above who completed at least grade 3 of primary education

total population: 89.7%

male: 88.3%

female: 90.9% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 12 years

female: 11 years (2013)


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


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.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

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)

Revenue from forest resources

1.61% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 39

Revenue from coal

0.4% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 15

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 13.08 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 10.98 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 12.1 megatons (2020 est.)

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 4 September 2023); First Vice President Constantino CHIWENGA (since 4 September 2023); Second Vice President Kembo MOHADI (8 September 2023); note - Robert Gabriel MUGABE resigned on 21 November 2017, after ruling for 37 years

head of government: President Emmerson Dambudzo MNANGAGWA (since 4 September 2023); First Vice President Constantino CHIWENGA (since 4 September 2023); Second Vice President Kembo MOHADI (8 September 2023)

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 23 August 2023 (next to be held in 2028); co-vice presidents drawn from party leadership

election results: 2023: Emmerson MNANGAGWA reelected president in first round; percent of vote - Emmerson MNANGAGWA (ZANU-PF) 52.6%, Nelson CHAMISA (MDC-T) 44%, Wilbert MUBAIWA (NPC) 1.2%, other 2.2%

Emmerson MNANGAGWA elected president in first round; percent of vote - Emmerson MNANGAGWA (ZANU-PF) 50.7%, Nelson CHAMISA (MDC-T) 44.4%, Thokozani KHUPE (MDC-N) 0.9%, other 4%

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, 18 reserved for the National Council Chiefs, and 2 reserved for members with disabilities; members serve 5-year terms)

National Assembly (280 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 and 10 additional seats reserved for candidates aged between 21 and 35 directly elected by proportional representation, members serve 5-year terms)


Senate - last held for elected member on 23 August 2023 (next to be held in 2028)

National Assembly - last held on 23 August 2023 (next to be held in 2028); note: a by-election was held on 11 November 2023 due to the death of a candidate during the August general election; a special by election was held on 9 December 2023 after nine opposition lawmakers were removed from their seats and disqualified from running again; another by-election was held 3 February 2024 for six open seats

election results:

Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ZANU-PF 33, CCC- 27, Chiefs 18, people with disabilities 2; composition - men 36, women 35, percentage of women 49.3%

National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ZANU-PF 190, CCC-93; composition - men 192, women 75, percentage women 28.1%; total Parliament percentage women 32.5%

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 (vacant) 
Movement for Democratic Change - MDC-T [Douglas MWONZORA]
National People's Congress- NPC- [Wilbert MUBAIWA] 
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 Elaine M. FRENCH (since August 2022)

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 and endemic corruption have prevented reforms and stalled debt restructuring; new Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) currency latest effort to combat ongoing hyperinflation; reliant on natural resource extraction, agriculture and remittances

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$36.035 billion (2022 est.)
$33.829 billion (2021 est.)
$31.188 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 131

Real GDP growth rate

6.52% (2022 est.)
8.47% (2021 est.)
-7.82% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 48

Real GDP per capita

$2,200 (2022 est.)
$2,100 (2021 est.)
$2,000 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 202

GDP (official exchange rate)

$27.367 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

104.71% (2022 est.)
98.55% (2021 est.)
557.2% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 218

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 12% (2017 est.)

industry: 22.2% (2017 est.)

services: 65.8% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 92; industry 129; agriculture 77

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

sugarcane, maize, beef, milk, cassava, wheat, bananas, vegetables, tobacco, cotton (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


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

Industrial production growth rate

5.5% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 54

Labor force

6.371 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 71

Unemployment rate

9.26% (2022 est.)
9.54% (2021 est.)
8.65% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 161

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 7.3% (2021 est.)

male: 6.2%

female: 8.5%

comparison ranking: total 174

Population below poverty line

38.3% (2019 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

50.3 (2020 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 13

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.5%

highest 10%: 34.8% (2017 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


11.27% of GDP (2022 est.)
9.07% of GDP (2021 est.)
8.52% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $17 million (2018 est.)

expenditures: $23 million (2018 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-9.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 208

Public debt

82.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
69.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 39

Taxes and other revenues

7.21% (of GDP) (2018 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 204

Current account balance

$1.096 billion (2020 est.)
$920.472 million (2019 est.)
-$1.38 billion (2018 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 46


$7.65 billion (2022 est.)
$6.462 billion (2021 est.)
$4.795 billion (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 124

Exports - partners

UAE 57%, South Africa 17%, China 7%, Belgium 4%, Mozambique 2% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

gold, nickel, tobacco, iron alloys, diamonds (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$10.126 billion (2022 est.)
$7.964 billion (2021 est.)
$5.382 billion (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 121

Imports - partners

South Africa 39%, China 15%, Singapore 12%, UAE 6%, Mozambique 4% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, fertilizers, trucks, soybean oil, electricity (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$598.622 million (2022 est.)
$838.78 million (2021 est.)
$33.405 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 186

Debt - external

$9.357 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$10.14 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 114

Exchange rates

Zimbabwean dollars (ZWD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
374.954 (2022 est.)
88.552 (2021 est.)
51.329 (2020 est.)
16.446 (2019 est.)
322.355 (2018 est.)

note: ongoing hyperinflation rendered Zimbabwean dollar essentially worthless; introduction of Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) as new currency effective April 2024


Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) 7 million

electrification - total population: 48.9% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 85.3% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 31.6% (2021)


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.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 114; transmission/distribution losses 115; imports 63; exports 75; consumption 97

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.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 157

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 159

Refined petroleum products - imports

26,400 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 104

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.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 115

Energy consumption per capita

11.516 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 150


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 291,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 110

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 14.301 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 88 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 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.)

comparison ranking: total 84

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 203,461 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 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


144 (2024)

comparison ranking: 37


5 (2024)


270 km refined products (2013)


total: 3,427 km (2014)

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

comparison ranking: total 55


total: 97,267 km

paved: 18,481 km

unpaved: 78,786 km (2023)

comparison ranking: total 50


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

comparison ranking: 104

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

0.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.6% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 159

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 30,000 active-duty troops, including about 4,000 Air Force personnel (2023)

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 (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women (18-24 for officer cadets; 18-30 for technical/specialist personnel); no conscription (2023)

Military - note

the 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 military-assisted political transition; 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 five light infantry brigades, plus brigades of mechanized infantry, presidential guards, special operations forces, 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)


Space agency/agencies

Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA; established in 2019 and officially launched in 2021; under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development) (2023)

Space program overview

has a nascent program with the goal of utilizing space technologies in economic development; particularly interested in remote sensing capabilities to assist with monitoring or managing agriculture and food security, climate change, disease outbreaks, environmental hazards and disasters, and natural resources, as well as weather forecasting; part of a joint project (BIRDS-5) with Japan, which seeks to promote the first steps towards creating an indigenous space program by designing, building, testing, launching, and operating the first satellites for participating countries (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 9,931 (Mozambique) (2023); 12,293 (Democratic Republic of Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2024)

Illicit drugs

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