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Zimbabwe Information - Page 2
Early people living in Zimbabwe were San hunter-gatherers. Bantu ethnic groups settled in the area around the turn of the first millennium (AD).

Zimbabwe's most famous evidence of Bantu culture (Shona people) can be seen at the UNESCO World Heritage site Great Zimbabwe, or Dzimbahwe, in the southern region of the country. Dzimbahwe was built around the eleventh century and inhabited until the fifteenth century. The second most important stone city in Zimbabwe was Khami in the Western Region, built in the fifteenth century.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to make contact with Zimbabwe. Portuguese traders arrived in the early sixteenth century, followed by missionaries.

Around 1840 Ndebele (Matabele) people settled in south-western Zimbabwe. In 1888 the Ndebele ruler granted mineral rights to Cecil Rhodes' British South African Company; soon, Rhodes' company occupied most of the area. The country became known as Rhodesia and was eventually partitioned into Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (later Rhodesia), a self-governing British Colony (1923).

Between 1953 and 1963 Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland were members of the Federation of Central Africa. Soon after the Federation ended Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) gained independence.

In Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia) power remained in the hands of the white population and in 1965 the Rhodesian government, led by Ian Smith, unilaterally declared Rhodesia's independence (UDI). This declaration was not recognised by Britain or the rest of the world. The United Nations imposed Sanctions against Rhodesia.

ZANU (the Zimbabwe African National Union), led by Robert Mugabe, ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African People’s Union), led by Joshua Nkomo and UANC, (the United African National Council), led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa, fought for independence for the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. Neighbouring African states supported Zimbabwe's struggle for independence. On 18 April 1980 Zimbabwe became an independent state with Robert Mugabe as Prime Minister.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate has risen steeply over the years. In 2008 it was reported that the country's currency was losing its role as a medium of exchange and store of value.

The redistribution of land by the National Land Acquisition and Redistribution Committee has led to problems in the commercial farming sector, normally a large employer of Zimbabwe's working population.

The agricultural sector produces maize, wheat, sorghum, rapoko, millet, soya beans, dairy products, tobacco and cotton.

Industries are mining (coal, copper, gold, platinum, nickel and tin), steel, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, wood products, clothing, footwear, food and beverages.

In 2008 the majority of tourists were from African countries, particularly the Southern African Development Community. (2008)

There are a number of rock art sites in Zimbabwe. These include the collection in the Matobo Hills, designated a World Heritage site in 2003.

The Shona people are well known for their decorative arts. Wood carving and metalwork are among traditional arts. Today a revival in Shona stone sculpture is based on Shona skills that date back to the times of Great Zimbabwe.

Music, song and dance were an integral part of traditional Zimbabwean life. Song was used to pass on values, duties and beliefs. In the 1970s Thomas Mapfum and The Blacks Unlimited played traditional Shona music combined with western instruments, often their message concerned the fight for independence.

Football is Zimbabwe's most popular sport. Other sports played are cricket, rugby and tennis.

Easter, Christmas and New Year are celebrated. Other days commemorated are Independence Day (18 April), Workers' Day (1 May), Africa Day (25 May), Heroes' Day (11 August), Defence Forces Day (12 August) and Unity Day (22 December).

News from Zimbabwe is available in Newslink.

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