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Zimbabwe:
Geography

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Background
Definition
The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the [British] South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign, which began in 2000, caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities. Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. The ruling ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation to win a two-thirds majority in the March 2005 parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the constitution at will and recreate the Senate, which had been abolished in the late 1980s. In April 2005, Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order, ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition. President MUGABE in June 2007 instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months. General elections held in March 2008 contained irregularities but still amounted to a censure of the ZANU-PF-led government with significant gains in opposition seats in parliament. MDC opposition leader Morgan TSVANGIRAI won the presidential polls, and may have won an out right majority, but official results posted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Committee did not reflect this. In the lead up to a run-off election in late June 2008, considerable violence enacted against opposition party members led to the withdrawal of TSVANGIRAI from the ballot. Extensive evidence of vote tampering and ballot-box stuffing resulted in international condemnation of the process, and calls for the creation of a power-sharing government have been ignored.
Location
Definition
Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
20 00 S, 30 00 E
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 390,580 sq km
land: 386,670 sq km
water: 3,910 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than Montana
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 3,066 km
border countries: Botswana 813 km, Mozambique 1,231 km, South Africa 225 km, Zambia 797 km
Coastline
Definition
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims
Definition
none (landlocked)
Climate
Definition
tropical; moderated by altitude; rainy season (November to March)
Terrain
Definition
mostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld); mountains in east
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: junction of the Runde and Save rivers 162 m
highest point: Inyangani 2,592 m
Natural resources
Definition
coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 8.24%
permanent crops: 0.33%
other: 91.43% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
1,740 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
20 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 4.21 cu km/yr (14%/7%/79%)
per capita: 324 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards
Definition
recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare
Environment - current issues
Definition
deforestation; soil erosion; land degradation; air and water pollution; the black rhinoceros herd - once the largest concentration of the species in the world - has been significantly reduced by poaching; poor mining practices have led to toxic waste and heavy metal pollution
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zambia; in full flood (February-April) the massive Victoria Falls on the river forms the world's largest curtain of falling water


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