Africa > Southern Africa > Zimbabwe > Zimbabwe Geography Profile

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Geography Profile

2015/01/25

Makumbi_landscape_pic.jpg

Zimbabwe is made up of a series of plateaus and mountains. In the middle, the High Veld ridge stretches from the southwest to the northeast and occupies around a quarter of the country. Its highest peak, Mount Nyangani (2,592 metres), rises up along the border with Mozambique.Plains of Zimbabwe

The Middle Veld plateau, from 900-1200m in height, has areas of wooded savanna and bracken-covered hills and enjoys a temperate climate. Either side of the Middle and High Veld are the Low Veld regions along the Limpopo Valley to the north and the Zambezi Valley in the south. These lower-lying areas are hotter and drier.

Some of Zimbabwe’s landscapes are distinguished by their large rock outcrops, cliffs and boulders.

In the drier low-lying regions, mopane and baobab trees are common across the scrubland. The quick-growing Australian eucalyptus tree has as well been introduced to provide wood for fuel and to act as windbreaks on farms.

Baobabs grow naturally in most nations south of the Sahara. These remarkable trees have a lifespan of hundreds of years and can grow up to 25 metres high, with trunks of 6-10 metres in diameter. Their leaves and fruits are often used locally, such as for baobab oil and fruit juice.
A land of parks

Deforestation and widespread cultivation have cleared much of the natural vegetation. However, around 10% of the country is set aside as parkland and natural habitats are preserved in the national parks.

The major national parks are Chimanimani, Chizarira, Gonarezhou, Kazuma Pan, Mana Pools, Matobo, Matusadona, Nyanga and Hwange.

Zebra on grasslands, ZimbabweMatobo National Park has an ‘Intensive Protection Zone’ where a large people of Black and White Rhinoceros are protected.

Bird life

Notable part the country’s a lot of birds are the large number of raptors, inclunding martial and bateleur eagles.

Zimbabwe's parks are home to the African ‘large five’ (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhino), inclunding a range of other predators such as the serval, civet, jackal and hyena. The country as well has a variety of hoofed animals, such as species of kudu, antelope, duiker, impala and bush buck.

Some parks are expanding

Transfrontier parks in Africa are helping to create wider conservation zones for the region’s migratory animals. The Great Limpopo is one such example; this cross-border wildlife area links Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park with the Kruger National Park of South Africa and Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. Zimbabwe is a country in south-central Africa. Zimbabwe, or Republic of Zimbabwe, a country in south-central Africa. It was formerly called Rhodesia. It is bounded by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Botswana. The area is 150,804 square miles (390,580 km2).

Zimbabwe is in the tropics south of the Equator. It lies on plateaus 3,000 feet (900 m) or additional above sea level. The mountains in the east rise to roughly 8,500 feet (2,600 m) above sea level. The land is mainly bush-covered with occasional forests. The major river is the Zambezi, which forms the Zimbabwe-Zambia border. On the Zambezi is majestic Victoria Falls. The river is dammed to form Lake Kariba, which Zimbabwe shares with Zambia.

The climate is moderate on the plateaus, with temperatures rarely exceeding 90° F. (32° C.). The river valleys are hot and humid, with temperatures above 100° F. (38° C.). Average annual precipitation ranges from about 15 to 45 inches (380 to 1,140 mm).

Zimbabwe is rich in natural resources. Copper, asbestos, gold, nickel, coal, and chromium are mined, and there are precious teak and softwood forests. Agricultural products include corn, cotton, sugarcane, and tobacco. Cattle and other livestock are significant. Zimbabwe's industries include food processing and the manufacturing of steel, chemicals, and textiles. The basic currency unit is the Zimbabwe dollar.
Area

It is the 61st major country in the world (although below average size for Africa) just larger than Japan or Montana but smaller than Paraguay, with a total area of 390,580 km², of which 3,910 km² comprises lakes and reservoirs.

Location: 

Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia

Geographic coordinates: 

20 00 S, 30 00 E

Map references: 

Africa

Area comparative: 

slightly larger than Montana

Land boundaries Total: 

3,066 km

Land boundaries Note: 

Climate: 

The climate is tropical, although markedly moderated by altitude. There is a dry season, including a short cool season during the period May to September when the whole country has very little rain. The rainy season is typically a time of heavy rainfall from November to March. The whole country is influenced by the Intertropical Convergence Zone during January. In years when it is poorly defined, then there is below average rainfall and a likelihood of serious drought in the country (as happened in 1983 and 1992). When it is well-defined then rainfall is average or well above average, as in 1981 and 1985.

Terrain: 

Much of the country is high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld) forming a watershed between the Zambezi and Limpopo river systems. The Limpopo and the lower Zambezi valleys are broad and relatively flat plains. The eastern end of the watershed terminates in a north-south mountain spine, called the Eastern Highlands.

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Runde and Save rivers 162 m
highest point: Mount Nyangani 2,592 m

Natural resources: coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals

Land use:
arable land: 8.24% (2005)
permanent crops: 0.33% (2005)
other: 91.43% (2005)

Irrigated land: 1,740 km² (2003)

Natural hazards: recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare

Environment - current issues: 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: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Hydrology: The country is divided into six drainage basins. The largest are the Zambezi and the Limpopo. Western parts of Matabeleland connect to the Okavango inland drainage basin through the Nata river. Most of the southern Mashonaland and adjacent parts of Masvingo drain through the Save river into the Indian ocean. Two smaller drainage basins cover parts of Manicaland, and drain into the Indian Ocean through Mozambique. These are the Pungwe river to the north and the Buzi river to the south. Sediment transport has been studied for rivers in Zimbabwe using the HBV hydrology transport model.

Main land use type:

  1. Above 1050 mm/annum with some precipitation in all months of the year Afforestation, fruit, tea, coffee and intensive livestock production
  2. 750–1000 mm/annum seasonally confined with well-defined dry season Large scale intensive crop and livestock production
  3. 650–800 mm/annum with regular mid-season dry spells Livestock production with fodder crops. Marginal production of maize, tobacco and cotton
  4. 450-650 mm/annum with periodic seasonal drought and severe rainy season dry spells Livestock production and drought resistant crops
  5. Too low and erratic for even drought resistant fodder and grain crops Extensive livestock and/or game ranching.
Natural resources: 

coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin, platinum group metals

Natural hazards: 

recurring droughts; floods and severe storms are rare

Environment - current issues: 

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

Geography note: