Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) is a landlocked nation in the southern
part of Africa surrounded by the countries of Zambia, Botswana,
Mozambique and South Africa.
According to the CIA Factbook, its population is approximately 12 million. Per capita income is $1,900 and the % of those with AIDS/HIV is 34%. The official language is English with an adult literacy rate of 90%.
In 1965 the country declared its independence with the first free elections held in 1979. Robert Mugabe (a committed Marxist) has been the nations first and only ruler since then, surviving through a canny combination of dirty politics and intimidation including a bit of ethnic cleansing here and there.
Zimbabwe's citizens have become increasingly impatient with the 81 year old Mugabe and in 1998 this led to open hostility, riots and widespread seizures of white-owned farmland that has led to desperate food shortages and an economy in tatters.
Mugabe was re-elected in 2002, in an election that is widely believed to
have been rigged. In 2004 Zimbabwe experienced its third year of
drought, but Mugabe halted foreign food aid announcing the country was
'choking' on food. However, diplomats estimate the maize harvest
(Zimbabwe's staple food) was 1/6th of what it needed and Foodnet (an
international organization that monitors hunger) believe about half the
population are starving and a further 3 million, mostly professionals have
left the country.
At the time of writing, Mugabe and his party have just won re-election in a process widely viewed as fraudulent, and the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.
This article is from the April 6, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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