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Zimbabwe is one of the smaller nations of southern Africa with only Malawi being smaller. It is a beautiful country that is not just home to a variety of wildlife, but also the site of an ancient civilisation that once rules the plains of southern Africa and gives the country its name. Recent political uncertainty, however, has cast the country in a poor light, with many forgetting the riches that it offers to the visitor.
The people of Zimbabwe are predominately from the black ethnic groups that have called the area their home or that migrated here over the centuries. About 98% of the population are of Shona, Ndebele and Bantu descent. Less than 1% are of white descent of British, Afrikaans, Portuguese and Dutch descent. The remainder are Indian or Chinese that play an important economic role in the country.
Traditionally the official language of Zimbabwe is English and most government documentation and other official documentation is printed in English. Following closely behind, however, are Shona and Ndebele that are recognised as official languages though in practice it has not become a reality.
Zimbabwe only covers an area of about 390 580 km². The landscape is primarily made up of a high inland plateau that falls as it heads north towards the Zambezi River valley where the river delineates the northern border of the country. To the south, the plateau also falls towards the Limpopo River valley where that river delineates the southern border of the country. In the east the land rises into the rocky escarpment and mountain range where Mount Nyongoni is highest point in the country (2592 metres).
The country is located on the Tropic of Capricorn, but the altitude helps to moderate the tropical climate to a great degree. The dry season is cold and dry and is characterised by a short period of very cold weather before milder temperatures return. The wet season is often warm to very hot accompanied by humid conditions throughout.
Zimbabwe boasts a total of eight national parks that have evolved to become some of the best places to view African wildlife on the continent. To the north west, on the border with Zambia, the famous Victorian Waterfalls are found, named by the famous explorer Dr Livingstone centuries ago. The plateau also contains some of the most baffling archaeological ruins ever found. The ancient city of Great Zimbabwe confounds many archaeologists to this day and are evidence of a great civilisation that must once have flourished in the area. What happened to them or where they came from, however, remains a mystery.
As recent as a few years ago, political turmoil started gripping Zimbabwe. The economy of the country has taken a serious blow and the government is trying its best to survive the storm while seeking a fair resolution to the problem. These problem have had a serious effect on tourism in Zimbabwe as many travellers avoid the country in favour of safer, more stable countries.
Despite the turmoil, however, the famous tourist destinations of Zimbabwe have been left relatively untouched by the recent troubles and Zimbabwe is still a wonderful destination. There is no reason not to come see the sights of this beautiful country; to bask in the mist of the Victoria's falls and to marvel at the architecture of an ancient people now seemingly lost to time.