Coordinates: 19°S 30°E / 19°S 30°E
Zimbabwe , officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambique to the east. The capital and largest city is Harare. The second largest city is Bulawayo. A country of roughly 15 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most common. It was once known as the “Jewel of Africa” for its great prosperity.
Zimbabwe first became a major trade route in the 11th century. Beginning in the 9th century, during its late iron age, the Gokomere, the Bantu people who would become the ethnic Shona, built the city-state of Great Zimbabwe, which was one of the major African trade centres, controlling the gold, ivory and copper trades with the Swahili coast, which were connected to Arab and Indian states. By the mid 15th century, the city-state had been abandoned. From there, the Kingdom of Zimbabwe was established, followed by the Rozvi and Mutapa empires.
The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during 1890 when they conquered Mashonaland and later in 1893 Matabeleland after a fierce resistance by Matabele people known as the First Matabele War. Company rule ended in 1923 with the establishment of Southern Rhodesia as a self-governing British colony. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia. The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. Zimbabwe then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was suspended in 2002 for breaches of international law by its then-government under Robert Mugabe, and from which it withdrew in December 2003.
Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980, when his ZANU–PF party won the elections following the end of white minority rule; he was the President of Zimbabwe from 1987 until his resignation in 2017. Under Mugabe’s authoritarian regime, the state security apparatus dominated the country and was responsible for widespread human rights violations. From 2000 to 2009 the economy experienced decline and hyperinflation before rebounding after the use of currencies other than the Zimbabwean dollar was permitted, though growth has since faltered. On 15 November 2017, in the wake of over a year of protests against his government as well as Zimbabwe’s rapidly declining economy, Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the country’s national army in a coup d’état and eventually resigned six days later. Emmerson Mnangagwa has since served as Zimbabwe’s president.
Zimbabwe is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).