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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Summary

Formerly the British colonial state of Rhodesia, Zimbabwe has faced many challenges since the birth of the modern state in 1980. Long time ruler Robert Mugabe has rigged elections, run the government inefficiently, severely damaged the economy, and overseen many land distributions that led to forced evictions and emigration.1 This authoritarian rule has caused extreme poverty and crippling unemployment. HIV/AIDS continues to cause health concerns and leave thousands of children as orphans each year. Zimbabwe also has a very diverse environment with some of the largest elephant and lion populations in the world.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/zi.html

Demographics

Nationality
Zimbabwean
Population
13,182,908 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Due to deforestation and mismanagement of land, Zimbabwe no longer has any remaining primary forests; this is largely due to deforestation rates increasing every year for decades.1 This is also combined with overgrazing, irresponsible agricultural practices, and erosion to cause the natural environment to deteriorate.1 The Zimbabwean government has implemented environmental protection policies, but these do not focus on the large scale problems.2

Family

Men are typically considered to be the head of the family in Zimbabwean culture and women are confined to the domestic sphere. The average family is large, with 5 or more children.1 Domestic violence and violence against women and children is prevalent, and it is suspected that about half of all women are subject to gender based violence at home.2

Human Rights

Zimbabwe faces substantial human rights concerns in the forms of political repression, gender based violence, and abuse of government power. 1 Unjust detention, forced evictions, and hostility towards LGBTQ groups are prevalent.1 There are many cases of gender based violence and discrimination. For example, widows do not receive the same rights as their male counterparts and are often not given fair treatment in divorce and child custody cases.2

Education

Educational reforms have improved the literacy rate in Zimbabwe to 88%, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.1 Despite this, schools and universities have been forced to close as the weak economy and government structures have not supported infrastructure improvements or teachers’ salaries.2 There are marked and severe discrepancies between the literacy and education levels of students who live in urban regions and those that reside in rural areas.2

Poverty

Approximately 60% of the population lives in poverty.1 Rates in rural areas are even higher, and 93% of this population lives on less than one dollar a day.1 Drought and economic barriers have prevented business from growing, and many have left the country in search of work and better opportunities.2

Religion

Christianity is the most prevalent religion in Zimbabwe with 86% of the population identifying as protestant and 7% following Catholicism.1 Although most of the nation identifies as Christian, most Zimbabweans practice their traditional indigenous beliefs alongside their Christian traditions.2 The constitution and legal framework of Zimbabwe supports religious freedom and this is generally enforced by both the government and society. Reports of religious conflict or discrimination are very rare.3

Clean Water

73% of citizens in Zimbabwe have access to clean water, but there is a high discrepancy in water and sanitation access between regions with many more people in rural areas lacking these services.1 There has been little change in access to clean water in over a decade. 60% of the rural water supply infrastructure is severely damaged, and 40% of the rural population has no access to a toilet or working sanitation infrastructure.1

Economy

Over the last 20 years, the Zimbabwean economy has been volatile and relied on agriculture and mining exports.1 Since the central bank began printing too much money causing inflation, strong forms of foreign currency became legal methods of payment in order to stabilize the economy.1 Although unknown, the unemployment rate is estimated to be at 9%, but in addition to this, 80% of Zimbabweans are underemployed to the extent that they live in poverty. Government interference, mismanagement, and massive debts make it difficult for regular citizens to improve their economic situation.2

Government

Corruption in Zimbabwe runs deep within every level of government. There are also many restrictions on democratic processes, and bribes are common amongst lawmakers. A study found that in 2015, 77% of Zimbabweans thought their nation was becoming increasingly corrupt.1 There are high levels of voter fraud, and tax levels are extremely high but fail to provide basic services to citizens.2

Health

One of the largest health concerns facing health in Zimbabwe is the high prevalence of AIDS. Approximately 14 million people, which is 15% of the population, suffer from HIV/AIDS.1 Due to social stigmas and local laws, AIDS is commonly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.1 Although the government has promised free medical services for all citizens, understaffing, inadequate facilities, and resource shortages undermine the existing healthcare institutions.2 HIV/AIDS, respiratory issues, and birth complications are the most common causes of death, and the life expectancy is only 58, one of the lowest in the world.3

Children

Two of the greatest threats to children in Zimbabwe are forms of abuse and HIV/AIDS. 1 Around 180,000 children are infected with AIDS, and another 500,000 have been left orphans because of their parents dying from the disease.1 The prevalence of AIDS in society and high rates of poverty impact children directly and indirectly through malnutrition, limited opportunity for upward mobility, and health concerns.1 1.6 million children are involved in child labor, and typically, these working conditions are harsh in exchange for unfair wages.2

Animals

Home to 350 different species of mammals and over 500 bird species, Zimbabwe boasts a diverse array of wildlife typical of other south African countries. Because of periodic droughts and food scarcity, many animals in the country have difficulty finding sufficient food and water supplies.1 In 2016, some of the national parks sold off their animals to other nations or preserves in order to relieve pressure to keep all of the animals healthy. Zimbabwe is home to the most densely populated area of elephants on the planet.2

Zimbabwe

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