Land and People
The terrain is mainly a plateau of four regions. The highveld, above 4,000 ft (1,219 m), crosses the country from southwest to northeast. On each side of it lies the middleveld, 3,000 to 4,000 ft (914–1,219 m) high, and beyond it the lowveld, at elevations below 3,000 ft (914 m). The fourth region, the Eastern Highlands, is a narrow, mountainous belt along the Mozambique border, where the highest point in Zimbabwe, Mt. Inyangani (8,503 ft/2,592 m), stands. Zimbabwe has an extensive national park system, including Hwange and Victoria Falls, both in the west. Rainfall varies from about 70 in. (178 cm) in the Highlands to less than 25 in. (64 cm) in the south. In addition to Harare, other cities include Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Gweru, and Mutare.
Some 82% of the population belong to the Shona ethnic group, while 14% are Ndebele. There are small minorities of mixed and Asian descent. Since independence in 1980, the European population of Zimbabwe has fallen to under 100,000. Zimbabwe's official language is English, with Shona and Ndebele being the predominant African languages. About half the population practices a blend of Christian and indigenous religions; the balance of the people are split nearly evenly between the two.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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