President: Robert Mugabe (1980)
Land area: 149,293 sq mi (386,669 sq km); total area: 150,804 sq mi (390,580 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 13,771,721 (growth rate: 4.36%); birth rate: 32.47/1000; infant mortality rate: 26.55/1000; life expectancy: 55.68; density per sq mi: 57
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Harare, 1.542 million
Other large cities: Bulawayo, 653,337; Chitungwiza, 356,840
Monetary unit: Zimbabwean dollar
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in south-central Africa, is slightly smaller than California. It is bordered by Botswana on the west, Zambia on the north, Mozambique on the east, and South Africa on the south.
The remains of early humans, dating back 500,000 years, have been discovered in present-day Zimbabwe. The land's earliest settlers, the Khoisan, date back to 200 B.C. After a period of Bantu domination, the Shona people ruled, followed by the Nguni and Zulu peoples. By the mid-19th century the descendants of the Nguni and Zulu, the Ndebele, had established a powerful warrior kingdom.
The first British explorers, colonists, and missionaries arrived in the 1850s, and the massive influx of foreigners led to the establishment of the territory Rhodesia, named after Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company. In 1923, European settlers voted to become the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia. After a brief federation with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the post–World War II period, Southern Rhodesia (also known as Rhodesia) chose to remain a colony when its two partners voted for independence in 1963.