Zimbabwe is a beautiful Southern African nation with an ancient history and vibrant culture. There are many fun facts about Zimbabwe that are worth knowing, and even experiencing firsthand.
The people of Zimbabwe are known for their hospitality and friendliness. With its rich cultural heritage, spectacular natural beauty, and friendly locals, Zimbabwe makes for an intriguing travel destination!
Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.
Common Facts About Zimbabwe
Officially the “Republic of Zimbabwe”. Zimbabwe has a decent population of around 16 million people. It is a landlocked country that is also great for enjoying safari tourism.
Zimbabwe is famous for its beautiful landscape, Limpopo, and Zambesi rivers. It is also known for its diverse wildlife and rich history. Many interesting landmarks and facts about Zimbabwe make it an attractive destination, particularly for nature and culture lovers.
Historical Facts On Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Is Over 10,000 Years
Archaeological evidence of arrowheads and cave paintings in present-day Zimbabwe suggests there was human habitation for over 100,000 years.
The first known inhabitants of the region are said to be the San people, followed by the infamous Bantu people. The arrival of the Bantu farmers coincides with the Bantu expansion, which was about 2000 years ago.
The 9th century brought about the emergence of the proto-Shona language communities in the middle Limpopo River valley. They later moved to the Zimbabwean highlands.
In the 10th century, the Shona people dominated the Zimbabwean plateau making it the center of the Shona states.
Trade development with Arab merchants in the 10th century brought about the development of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in the 11th century, which ushered in the Shona civilization during the 13th and 15th centuries. The Great Zimbabwe ruins are evidence of the civilization from that era.
Here is a general yet important Zimbabwe fact that seems always under the radar. Zimbabwe is one of the last African countries to gain independence. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom on April 18, 1980. It is a fairly young nation.
After gaining independence in 1980, the country’s first ceremonial president was Cannan Banana.
Although many mistake Zimbabwe’s first president for being Robert Mugabe. Banana was the president, while Mugabe was the prime minister.
Similar to other countries that used to be under British rule, it is common for the prime minister to take a more prominent role in the day to day management of politics.
Longest Serving President
Here’s another piece of information about Zimbabwe worth noting. The country’s former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe ruled the country for 36 years. 6 years (1980-1987) as the prime minister and 30 years (1987-2017) as the president.
This earned him a slot as one of the world’s oldest and longest-serving leaders of a non-royal county. He was born in 1924 and died in 2019, 2 years after he resigned from office.
In 1961, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa to have a TV station. At the time, the country was still known by the name Rhodesia.
The interesting Zimbabwe fact about its TV station is that it is one of few countries in the world with only one TV station.
Although the country had a couple of TV stations at some point for different reasons, including political reasons, all the channels shut down. The only TV station in Zimbabwe is called ZBC or ZTV.
Useful Facts About Zimbabwe For Tourists
Zimbabwe houses one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, “Victoria Falls.” The famous African explorer David Livingstone named the waterfall after Queen Victoria.
It is the world’s largest sheet of falling water. One interesting fact about Victoria falls is that the noise of the falls can be heard 40km away from the falls. Interestingly, Victoria falls is almost double the height of Niagara Falls.
Because of the noise, locals have a name for the falls, which is very common in Zimbabwe. “Mosi-oa-Tunya” in direct translation means “The smoke that thunders.” Now that is one cool name.
Did you know? Zimbabwe houses the world’s largest man-made lake by volume. That’s one of the most interesting facts about Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba can hold up to 180 cubic volumes of water.
Lake Kariba has a length of 220km and a width of 40km. One important piece of information about Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba is that its shallow shorelines are not a safe swimming zone.
The shallow shorelines host waterborne parasites like bilharzia and a healthy number of hippos and crocodiles. But it’s safe to swim further out in deeper water, ironically.
Here’s an interesting fact about beaches in Zimbabwe. Binga beach on the shores of Lake Kariba is the only sand beach in Zimbabwe.
The beach’s location is perfect, and the sand is beautiful, making it a good place to have a group or family picnic. The water is clear and attractive. It’s a great location to stop for some relaxation on your visit to Zimbabwe.
Here is a cool fact about animals in Zimbabwe. It is one of the top countries for safari tours in Africa. That is because Zimbabwe boasts a great diversity of wildlife.
The list of fauna in Zimbabwe almost seems non exhaustive. Some of the most popular animals in Zimbabwe include the African leopard, wild dogs, different species of antelope, African buffalo, lions, and African bush elephants.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
This is one of many tourists attraction in Zimbabwe. A beautiful collection of granite stones used to build a city. The Great Zimbabwe ruins were said to be founded in the 9th century AD during the country’s late iron age era.
It is the largest ruins collection in Africa. The great ruins were said to be the capital of a great kingdom at the time, although little is known about that era. Their ruins are well preserved and protected; it’s certainly a sight to behold.
Cultural Facts About Zimbabwe
Sadza The National Dish
There are many traditional dishes in Zimbabwe, but Sadza takes the spot as the national dish. Best of all, Sadza is a simple, easy-to-make dish.
It is made with corn flour and water. However, other grains like sorghum and millet can be used to make it. Sadza is prepared by mixing the corn flour in hot water until it’s thick enough to be molded by hand.
It is usually eaten with different types of soup and stew. Accompanied by meat or fish. To enjoy the meal, you are better off eating it with your hand than using utensils.
How about this for a funny fact about Zimbabwe? Having a six-pack is not that important to them. Who needs attractive abs when men with potbellies are considered wealthy?
Colgate And Coke
Here’s one interesting fact about Zimbabwe, the whole country doesn’t have regard for brand names. Every kind of toothpaste in Zimbabwe is called Colgate, while every drink is called coke.
When buying a drink in Zimbabwe, it is common to hear, “I want to buy coke,” and the shop owner would ask which type of coke you want. Drinks are branded by their fruit flavors. Fanta is referred to as the orange flavor coke.
Zimbabweans Are Collectivistic
It is common in Zimbabwe to see people put others’ needs before theirs. That’s one beautiful fact about Zimbabwean culture. Putting a group or family’s needs before one’s needs in other to gain protection and a sense of belonging is commonplace in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans cherish communal living. They gather around tribes to tell stories, sing songs, and dance together. That is probably also why they are very welcoming to visitors.
Languages In Zimbabwe
Another fascinating fact about Zimbabwe is that there are a whopping 16 official languages in the country.
That impressive diversity earned it a spot in the Gunness Book of World Records. These languages are English, Shona, Kalanga, Ndebele, Xhosa, Tonga, Sotho, Sign language, Shangani, Koisan, Ndau, Venda, Nambya, Chibarwe, Tswana, and Chewa.
Harare International Carnival
This is a week-long festival in Zimbabwe. Many have claimed it is the best carnival in Africa. The carnival aims to celebrate and promote arts, culture, and the Zimbabwe heritage.
You get to witness displays of many arts and costumes representing different tribes and cultures. It is a very entertaining and colorful event featuring lots of dance and music. If possible, you want to visit during this period to really soak in the culture and passion of the people.
Simple Zimbabwe Facts For Kids
The capital of Zimbabwe is Harare. It is home to a good number of the country’s population. About 3 million people live in Harare. It is the largest city in Zimbabwe with a land area of 940 square Km.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southeast Africa. It has a land area of over 390,760 square km. In comparison, the UK is just about 243,610 square km. Meaning that Zimbabwe is at least 1.6 times larger than the UK.
While this might sound like a unique and cool Zimbabwe fact, but that is not entirely true. Due to the hyperinflation that hit the country in 2008, the country was forced to abandon its currency.
Since April 12, 2009, Zimbabwe has been using multiple currencies, including South African Rand, Botswana Pula, and the US Dollar. However, the country’s official currency remains Zimbabwean dollars and the US Dollar.
Zimbabwe Had Different Names
Zimbabwe had a couple of names before it became the Republic of Zimbabwe. In 1898 when it was still under British rulership, it was called Southern Rhodesia. Subsequently, the name changed to Rhodesia in 1965. Then in 1979, the country was known as Zimbabwe Rhodesia.
In 1980, when it gained independence, it was officially recognized as the Republic of Zimbabwe.
No World Cup Appearance
One unfortunate fact about Zimbabwe soccer teams is that the men’s and women’s national teams have never qualified for the world cup.
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Other Interesting Facts Of Zimbabwe
World Highest Denomination Note
Zimbabwe as a country have quite several world records, but this one fascinating Zimbabwe fact takes the top spot. Zimbabwe once issued a single note worth one hundred trillion dollars, which is a record for the highest denomination ever issued.
This was a result of the hyperinflation that the country encountered in 2008. To date, the record still stands, although you could not buy much with the money then as it was worth little value.
Zimbabwe was on referred to as Banana Republic. But this was contrary to the popular political science term of countries with political instability who rely on natural resources like banana export as their main income.
Zimbabwe was literarily a banana republic. The republic’s first president was Cannan Banana, hence the term “Banana Republic.”
The president enacted a law that banned citizens of Zimbabwe from making fun of his name. it didn’t stop journalists from other countries though.
Bread For A Wheelbarrow Of Cash
This is one unfortunate yet funny fact about Zimbabwe. The money devaluated beyond imagination at the peak of the massive inflation that rocked the country in 2008.
Imagine needing to wheel a barrow full of cash to buy something as small as bread or soda. The inflation was said to hit a record high of 230 million percent.
Elephants in Zimbabwe
Here’s a cool fact about animals in Zimbabwe, it ranks second on the highest population of elephants living within its boundaries. Botswana is the only country in the world with a higher population of elephants than Zimbabwe.
Botswana has over about 130,000 elephants, while Zimbabwe has around 85,000 elephants.
Zimbabwe’s “Land of Stones”
The name Zimbabwe was coined from the word “dzimba-dza-mabwe,” meaning “The Land of Stones.” It’s a direct translation of the Karanga dialect of the Shona language one of the official languages in Zimbabwe.
An example of these stones can be spotted in Masvingo, a city in the southeastern part of the country.
Here’s an interesting fact about Zimbabwe. They have won a total number of 8 medals at the Olympics. Two sports brought them all 8 medals, namely hockey and swimming.
It is also worth noting that they were all won by females. In 1980, the country’s female hockey team won a gold medal. All the other 7 were won by the same person Kristy Coventry.
The swimmer won 3 medals (1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze) in Athens at the 2004 Olympics. And in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, she won 4 medals (1 gold and 3 silver).
Discovering More Fun Facts About Zimbabwe
You can see from just these Zimbabwe facts that the nation has gone through some interesting pasts and turmoils. Nonetheless, there are plenty of fun and intriguing things to discover about this African nation.
So don’t miss out on learning more about Zimbabwe’s unique history and culture. If you are visiting, the Land of Stone has many fascinating experiences to offer! Who knows what other amazing discoveries await?