The Republic of Zimbabwe or "Zimbabwe" for short, is a landlocked southern African country surrounded almost entirely by the republics of South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana. Zimbabwe borders the Republic of South Africa to the south, the Republic of Mozambique to the east, the Republic of Botswana to the southwest, the Republic of Zambia and a tip of the Republic of Namibia to the northwest.
The Republic of Zimbabwe covers a total land area of about 390,757 squared kilometers (about 1% of which is covered by water). Only about 10.9% of Zimbabwe's total land area remains arable (land good for farming).
Although Zimbabwe is landlocked, Zimbabwe is blessed with several water bodies including the famous Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, located on the Zambezi river at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Republic of Zimbabwe has a total population of about 17 million people with the population growth rate hovering around 2.3%. About 38% of the population lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Harare the capital. Harare the capital of Zimbabwe contains about 2 million people. Bulawayo (another major city in Zimbabwe today) contains about one million people. The greater part of Zimbabwe's population lives in rural areas mostly as subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just the feed themselves and their families.
Although not as culturally diverse as most other African countries, there are several ethnic and racial groups living in Zimbabwe today. The Shona (indigenous African), the most populous ethnic group, form about 82% of the total population. The Ndebeles and other indigenous Africans make up about 16% of the total population. The mixed, Asian and whites form just about 2% of the total population.
The Syncretic religion which is part Christian and part indigenous beliefs, is the most dominant religion in Zimbabwe today forming about 50% of the total population. Christians make up about 25% of the total population. Indigenous beliefs make up 24% of the total population with Islam and other religious groups forming the remaining 1%.
The Republic of Zimbabwe just like its neighboring countries is blessed with abundance of natural resources such as gold, copper, nickel, platinum group metals, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, asbestos, chromium ore, coal, tin, etc. The beautiful Victoria falls which is the largest curtain of falling water in the world, is found in Zimbabwe.
Officially, Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates on the continent with a literacy rate of 90.7% for the total population. Zimbabwe's female literacy rate hovers around 87.2%. In other words, officially, about 90.7% of Zimbabweans above the age 15 can at least read and write which is far better than in most other African countries. However, these are just "official" figures which differ a bit from reality in Zimbabwe today. Zimbabwe's true literacy rate today is around 75% for the entire population.
Despite the abundance of natural resources and the high literacy rate, Zimbabwe remains one of the poorest countries in Africa today with the unemployment and underemployment rate around 95%. In other words, just about 5% of Zimbabweans have permanent and high-paying jobs. Majority of Zimbabweans today live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day.
The Republic of Zimbabwe remains one of the HIV/AIDS killing zones in Africa today. Despite the numerous HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and programs, close to a million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe today. About 1.2 million were living with HIV/AIDS in 2009 with about 83,000 deaths recorded within the same year. Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate hovers around 14.3%. Malaria, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, rabies, schistosomiasis, etc continue to threaten several lives in Zimbabwe today.
Despite the high literacy rate, quality education is something very hard to come by in today's Zimbabwe. So at the end of the day, people graduate from school with degrees upon degrees but unable to use those degrees to better their living conditions just like in most other African countries.
Poor leadership (and corruption) remains perhaps the biggest problem facing Zimbabwe today. Just like in most other African countries, corruption levels remain at all-time high in Zimbabwe today.
Rampant deforestation, poaching, air and water pollution (especially from agricultural and industrial runoffs), soil erosion and land degradation (poor mining practices have led to toxic waste and heavy metal pollution), etc. remain some of the major environmental issues facing Zimbabwe today.