Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. It shares borders with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia at its westernmost point. The population of Zimbabwe is approximately 13 million, of whom 67 per cent live in rural areas and 33 per cent in urban areas. More than two-thirds of the population speak Shona as their first language. English is the official language of government.
Zimbabwe achieved majority rule and internationally recognized independence in April 1980. Post-independence politics have been dominated by the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) led by Robert Mugabe, who turned 90 in 2014 and remains Head of State. Australia implemented targeted sanctions against certain individuals and companies in Zimbabwe in 2002 following concerns about political violence and human rights violations. Sanctions have been progressively lifted but remain imposed on seven individuals, including Robert Mugabe, and one entity.
Zimbabwe suffered catastrophic economic decline between 2000 and 2008. After the inauguration of the Inclusive Government in 2009, the economy stabilised in relative terms but since the contentious July 2013 elections which returned Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to government, it has again declined.
President Mugabe assumed the chair of the Southern African Development Community for one year from August 2014.
Zimbabwe is endowed with plentiful natural resources that include rich mineral deposits, wildlife and arable lands. The Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia, while neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, is the largest sheet of falling water in the world.
Australia maintains an Embassy in Harare. Zimbabwe is represented in Australia by an Ambassador based in Canberra.
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