Zimbabwe History

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A country of roughly 16 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used. Since the 11th century, present-day Zimbabwe has been the site of several organised states and kingdoms as well as a major route for migration and trade. The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923.

In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia. The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. Zimbabwe then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was suspended in 2002 for breaches of international law by its then-government, and from which it withdrew in December 2003.

Prior to 1923 Southern Rhodesia, like Northern Rhodesia, was under the administration of the British South Africa Company. In 1923 the country was annexed to His Majesty’s Dominions and a government was set up. In 1980 Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe. The country has been in economic decline since the 1990s, experiencing several crashes and hyperinflation along the way.


1898 - Southern Rhodesia became the official name for the region south of the Zambezi which later became Zimbabwe
1923 - Southern Rhodesia was annexed by the United Kingdom
1965 - The Unilateral Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state
1983 - 1987 The Gukurahundi was a series of atrocious massacres of civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army
2008 - Problems in Zimbabwe reached crisis proportions in the areas of living standards, a major cholera outbreak in December and various basic affairs
2017 - The Zimbabwe News, was quoted as saying the life expectancy has halved, and death from politically motivated violence sponsored by government exceeds 200,000 since 1980. The government has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of at least three million Zimbabweans in 37 years