Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa bordering South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana. It is an exciting country appealing to outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers from the grand and famous Victoria Falls to the natural beauty of the Motopo Hills and their huge boulders to the ancient Great Zimbabwe ruins going back to Africa's great ancestry. The Victoria Falls are one of the great natural wonders of the world. The mile-wide (2km) water fall creates a cloud of mist that can be seen up to 20 miles (32km) away. It is one of Zimbabwe's most popular tourist destinations. It is also a popular adrenaline adventure destination with white water rafting and bungee jumping into the nearby Zambezi River gorge.
Zimbabwe enjoys a rich Wildlife legacy. The national parks and wildlife reserves offer good game viewing, especially on the shores of Lake Kariba, where hippo, crocodiles, buffalo, rhino, elephant and lion roam freely. Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve and the saltpans and grassy plains support a large concentration of animals. Lake Kariba is treasured as a source of hydro-electricity, as well as for its fishing resources. It is a beautiful stretch of water studded with islands and the sun-bleached branches of dead trees, surrounded by mountains and forests. Houseboats offer a wonderful opportunity to relax and take in the spectacular sunsets, enjoy a variety of water sports, and spot the vast quantities of game attracted to the lake, including huge Nile crocodiles and hippo.
Unfortunately due to the ongoing social and political unrest in Zimbabwe, most potential Travelers are put off from visiting this beautiful country that offers first-class game viewing safaris and breathtaking scenery. Although visitors to the country are urged to exercise caution at all times and to remain aware of recent developments, the main tourist areas, and national parks in particular, have been largely unaffected by the political situation, being far from the cities where much of the instability exists. In a desperate attempt to attract business, many game lodges are offering extremely competitive prices to Travelers.
The wonderful ancient rock art dotted around Zimbabwe is testimony to early Khoisan people, hunter-gatherers who inhabited Zimbabwe from the 5th century. They retreated to the southeast when Bantu settlers from the north began arriving in the 10th century.
In the 11th century a powerful and wealthy Shona dynasty rose at Great Zimbabwe in the vicinity of modern-day Masvingo, and Swahili traders began trading there. They were followed by Portuguese traders in the 16th century, but by then the Great Zimbabwe society had crumbled and the Shona dynasties had fractured into autonomous states.
In the 1830s Ndebele warrior people from the south arrived in Zimbabwe, and a few years later their chief, Mzilikazi, established his capital at Bulawayo. Later that century the Ndebele, under Mzilikazi’s son Lobengula, were to put up great resistance to British settlers.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy for over 70 percent of the population, although manufacturing accounts for about 25 percent of the gross national product (GDP) and is the most important macroeconomic sector. Economic decline began in the mid-1980s, when foreign demand for minerals dropped, and this situation was worsened by the impact of several droughts and structural adjustment polices that have had a disproportionate impact on the poor. Since the opening up of the South African economy in 1994, increased competition in export markets and the increased availability of South African goods in Zimbabwe have heightened macroeconomic concerns. Until 1992, the country was self-sufficient in grain, and a massive increase in maize production by smallholders was a post independence success story. However, since that time, annual grain production has not always met demand because of a decline in producer prices and an increase in the population.
The major crops grown by smallholders on the high and middle veld plateau are maize, sunflower, groundnuts, and cotton. In the Zambezi Valley more millet and sorghum are grown than maize, but only for subsistence, and cotton is the only major cash crop. The west and the low veld are predominantly cattle-raising areas. Self-sufficiency varies at the household level and depends on a variety of factors, including rainfall and the type of grain grown (maize or more drought-resistant millet and sorghum) and the availability of draft animals. To increase grain production for household consumption, the government and nongovernmental organizations are encouraging farmers to grow more millet and sorghum. This is meeting with only limited success; most people prefer the taste of maize, and it is less labor-intensive to harvest and prepare for consumption. Meeting grain deficits is dependent on cash income from the sale of cash crops (for example, groundnuts and cotton) or cash remittances from workers in the towns. There has been a steady movement of maize and goats from rural to urban areas.
Zimbabwe is in central southern Africa. Because of the impact of its colonial history on the nation's political, economic, and socio-cultural life, it generally is identified more with southern Africa than with central Africa. A land-locked country of 242,700 square miles 390,580 square kilometers between the Zambezi River to the north and the Limpopo River to the south, it is bordered by Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Most of the country is a high to middle veld plateau with extensive areas of wooded savanna and a temperate climate; the low veld of the Limpopo and the Zambezi Valley is hotter and has less rain. On the Mozambique border, the only mountainous area, the Eastern Highlands, runs from Nyanga in the north to Chimanimani in the south. Rainfall is higher in the north of the Eastern Highlands and lower in the Zambezi Valley and the low veld. The capital, Harare, is located in Mashonaland, which covers the eastern two-thirds of the country and is the area where most Shona-speaking people live. The second city, Bulawayo, is in Matabeleland in the west, where most Ndebele-speaking people live.
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