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The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked South African country that is bounded by Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia. It is separated from Namibia by 511 feet of land belonging to Botswana.

Currently, Zimbabwe has a presidential type of government, with upper and lower chambers of Parliament, and an executive president. Robert Mugabe served as prime minister from 1980 to 1987, then as president from 1987 to 2017, when he resigned under threat of impeachment. Under the Mugabe regime, there were many reports of human rights violations, disputed elections, and media oppression.

The majority black population of Zimbabwe are primarily Bantu, separated into two principal language groups, and several ethnic groups. The Mashona makeup about 75% of the Zimbabwean people, and have inhabited the area the longest. The Matabele are centered in southwestern Zimbabwe, and make up about 20% of the population. Arriving in the region about a hundred and fifty years ago, they controlled the majority Mashona until Britain established Rhodesia in 1890.

Making up less than 1% of the population, white Zimbabweans are primarily of English origin, but include Afrikaners from South Africa and Portuguese from Mozambique, as well. Since the 1870s, emigration by whites have reduced the country's white population from about 300,000 to fewer than 50,000.

English is spoken by most of the country's white population, and understood by about half of the black population. English is the chief language used in Zimbabwe's judiciary and educational systems, but Zimbabwe has sixteen official languages. English is used primarily urban areas, but not much in the country's rural areas. The Bantu languages, Shona and Sindebele, are the most commonly used languages in Zimbabwe.

At more than 90%, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa, although the country's literacy rates and educational progress has decreased in recent years, as more than 20,000 teachers have left the country since 2007. Public education was made free in 1980, but the government has steadily increased fees attached to enrollment since 1988. Today, half of the children of Zimbabwe have not continued their education past primary school.

There are several independent and religious-affiliated primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe, although tuition fees are significantly higher than those charged by public schools. Wealthy Zimbabweans generally enroll their children in independent schools rather than the country's public schools.

There are seven public universities in Zimbabwe, as well as private schools operated by churches, and a network of teacher training schools, nursing schools, and vocational colleges.

Approximately 80% of Zimbabweans are Christians, mostly Protestants belonging to Pentecostal African Churches, although the Roman Catholic Church and other Protestant denominations also have a presence in the country. More than 10% of the population practices indigenous African religions, and others blend indigenous religious practices with Christianity. About 1% of the population are Muslims, mostly residing near the Mozambique border. Approximately 7% of Zimbabweans have no religious practices.

The region of Zimbabwe was inhabited during the Stone Age, as evidenced by Stone Age implements and tools that were found in several areas, and stone structures built between the 9th and 13th centuries are evidence of an ancient city in southeastern Zimbabwe.

Although the Portuguese colonized parts of south-central Africa in the 1500s, it wasn't until the late 1800s that Europeans came into the Zimbabwe region. In 1888, Cecil Rhodes was given a concession for mineral rights in Zimbabwe from local chiefs. Representing the British South Africa Company, he soon persuaded the United Kingdom to bring the region under a British sphere of influence.

In 1895, the British named the region Rhodesia, after Cecil Rhodes, and it was placed under the administration of the British South Africa Company.

In 1923, the white government of Southern Rhodesia was given a choice of becoming part of the Union of South Africa or remaining a separate entity within the British Empire. They chose the latter, and Southern Rhodesia was annexed by the UK. Until 1980, Rhodesia was a self-governing colony with its own legislature, military, and police, largely controlled by its minority white population.

In 1953, Southern Rhodesia was briefly joined in a multiracial Central African Federation with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but the federation was dissolved in 1963.

In 1965, Rhodesia declared independence from Britain, act that Britain and the international community deemed unconstitutional. Sanctions were placed on Rhodesia. It wasn't until 1979 that independence was granted. Robert Mugabe's party won a majority in its first election.


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