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Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe People Profile




At the beginning of the twentieth century, the people is estimated to have been about six hundred thousand. The 1992 national census estimated it at over ten million, and with a increase rate of 3 %, it is expected to be over twelve million in 2000. About 70 % of the people lives in rural areas, and Harare and Bulawayo account for most of the approximately 30 % in urban areas. The major ethnic group is collectively known as the Shona and consists of the Manyika, Zezuru, Karanga, Korekore, Rozwi, and Ndau groups, which make up about seventy-six % of the people.

The second major ethnic group is the Ndebele, consisting of the Ndebele and Kalanga groups, which constitute about 18 %. Mashonaland, where most of the Shona live, is a collective term for the eastern two-thirds of the country, and most Ndebele live in the western third of Matabeleland. Other ethnic groups, each constituting 1 % of the people, are the Batonga in the Zambezi Valley, the Shangaan or Hlengwe in the low veld, and the Venda on the border with South Africa. About 2 % of the people is of non-African ethnic origin, mainly European and Asian.

In the twentieth century, there were three major changes in the demographic and settlement Zimbabwe
pattern. Initial, the acquisition of large tracts of land by white settlers for commercial agriculture, until in a little while next World War II resulted in a situation in which half the land was owned by well under 1 % of the people, with limited access to land for the vast majority of the rural people. Second, in the colonial period, the development of industry in towns and cities, particularly Harare and Bulawayo, required men seeking work to live in urban areas, leaving women and children in the rural areas.

Although this gender imbalance in urban areas no longer exists, and there is additional movement between urban and rural areas, de facto women heads of household are still common in rural areas. Most jobs continue to be found in urban areas and employment gain rather than gain from farming is the majority significant factor in the standard of living part smallholder families. The third major change has involved the age profile of the people.

A sharp drop in mortality rates and longer life expectancy between 1960 and 1992 meant that almost sixty-three % of the people sixteen to thirty-four years of age. The statistical impact of the AIDS epidemic on the people will not be clear until the next national census in 2002, but that disease is considered a major factor in higher maternal and infant mortality rates.

Linguistic Affiliation

All the national languages, with the exception of the official language, English, are Bantu, a branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Shona and Sindebele are the majority widely spoken, and students are required to take at least one of those languages.

The four major dialects of Shona—Zezuru, Kalanga, Manyika, and Ndau—have a common vocabulary and similar tonal and grammatical features. The Ndebele in the nineteenth century were the initial to use the name \"Shona\" to refer to the peoples they conquered; although the exact meaning of the term is unclear, it was probably derogatory.

Later, white colonists extended the term to refer to all groups that spoke dialects officially recognized as Shona. One view of the dialects is that they resulted from differing missionary education policies in the nineteenth century. Sindebele is a click language of the Nguni group of Bantu languages; other members of this language group are Zulu and Xhosa, which are spoken mainly in South Africa; siSwati (Swaziland); and siTswana (Botswana).

Other languages spoken in Zimbabwe are Tonga, Shangaan, and Venda, which are shared with large groups of Tonga in Zambia and Shangaan and Venda in South Africa.


The national flag and the Zimbabwe bird (the African fish eagle) are the majority significant symbolic representations of the country. The Zimbabwe bird is superimposed on the flag, and while the flag symbolizes independence, the Zimbabwe bird represents continuity with the precolonial completed. Internationally, particularly in the tourist sector, photographs of Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, and wildlife are symbols of the national history and natural heritage.

Harare, the capital is the major city with 1,444,534 people and Bulawayo, with 676,787.

Most African people of Zimbabwe are the Bantus of either Shona or Ndebele group. Zimbabwe\'s mainly white British origin. English is the major language of government, but Bantu languages predominate.

Some 85% of Zimbabweans are Christian; 62% % of the people attends religious services regularly.The major Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist and Methodist. As in other African nations, Christianity may be mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Besides Christianity, ancestral worship is the majority practiced non-Christian religion, involving spiritual intercession; the Mbira Dza Vadzimu, which means \"Voice of the Ancestors\", an instrument related to a lot of lamellophones ubiquitous throughout Africa, is central to a lot of ceremonial proceedings. Mwari simply means \"God the Creator\" (musika vanhu in Shona). Around 1% of the people is Muslim.

Black ethnic groups make up 98% of the people. The majority people, the Shona, comprise 80 to 84%. The Ndebele are the second most populous with 10 to 15% of the people. The Ndebele descended from Zulu migrations in the 19th century and the other tribes with which they intermarried. Up to one million Ndebele may have left the country over the last five years, mainly for South Africa. Other Bantu ethnic groups make up the third major with 2 to 5%. These are Venda, Tonga, Shangaan, Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau and Nambya.

Minority ethnic groups include white Zimbabweans, who make up less than 1% of the total people. White Zimbabweans are mostly of British origin, but there are as well Afrikaner, Greek, Portuguese, French and Dutch communities. The white people dropped from a peak of around 296,000 in 1975 to possibly 120,000 in 1999 and was estimated to be no additional than 50,000 in 2002, and possibly much less. Most emigration has been to the United Kingdom (Between 200,000 and 500,000 Britons are of Zimbabwean origin), South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Mixed-race citizens form 0.5% of the people and various Asian ethnic groups, mostly of Indian and Chinese origin, are as well 0.5%.Asian immigrants are influential in the economic sector.

Languages of Zimbabwe

The three official languages of Zimbabwe are Shona (or chiShona), Ndebele (or SiNdebele), and English. There are as well other indigenous languages of Zimbabwe such as Tonga, Nambya, Kalanga, Sotho, Venda and Xangani. There is an official position, albeit not backed by evidence, that approximately 85% of the people is Shona speaking and speaks Shona as their initial language. As well it is said that around 15% are Matebele and speak Ndebele as their initial language. These statistices have been officialised from presently on Zimbabwe has at no time conducted a census that enumerated people according to ethnic groups/tribes. As such while it is agreed that the Shona speaking people constitute the majority, they are certainly not as a lot of as 85% as the official position alleges.

All three languages are acceptable in education, government, etc. but English is traditionally used for official business. It serves as a common language for most Zimbabweans. From around fourth grade, schooling is conducted almost entirely in English.