Demographics of Zimbabwe: Wikis


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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Zimbabwe, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.



The population of Zimbabwe has grown during the twentieth century in accordance with the model of a developing country with high birth rates and falling death rates, resulting in relatively high population growth rate (around 3% or above in the 1960s and early 1970s). After a spurt in the period 1980-1983 following independence, a decline in birth rates set in. Since 1991, however, there has been a jump in death rates from a low of 10 per 1000 in 1985 to a high of 25 per 1000 in 2002/2003. It has since subsided to just under 22 per 1000 (estimate for 2007) a little below the birth rate of around 27 per 1000.[1] [2]. The high death rate is due to the impact of AIDS, which is by far the main cause of death. This leads to a small natural increase of around 0.5%. However, outward migration rates of around 1.5% or more have been experienced for over a decade, therefore actual population changes are uncertain. Because of the high number of unaccounted emigrants, the recent increase of emigration and the death toll from AIDS, the total population might be declining to as low as 8 million according to some estimates [3].

Ethnic groups

Black ethnic groups make up 98.5% of the population. The majority people, the Shona, comprise 50%. Included among the Shona are about 2 million descendants of migrant workers from Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. Also incorrectly included are the Shangaan found in Chimanimani and Chipinge Districts-they originated from South Africa in the 19th Century and were led by Soshangane.The Shangaan in Manicaland bear names like Mhlanga, Mlambo,Maphosa, Dhlamini, Dhliwayo, Hlathwayo,Sithole, Zabanyana, Mzilikazi, Makanza, Mauchaza, Muchakazi, etc. The Ndebele are approximately 10% of the population as some so-called Ndebeles have no relationship with the Ndebeles whatsoever. [4] The Ndebele are descended from Zulu migrations in the nineteenth century.The balance comprises the Kalanga, Nambya, Tonga, Venda and Suthu. The national prominence of Ndebele and Shona is due to the Education Act which prescribed these two languages for the school carricullum for both primary and secondary education. However, Kalanga and Nambya are dialectically the same as Karanga, a Shona dialect. Support for the opposition is particularly strong among the non-Shona, but is by no means confined to it. Up to three million Zimbabweans have left the country over the last five years, mainly for South Africa.

Other less populous Zimbabwean ethnic groups include white Zimbabweans, mostly of British origin (95%), but some are of Afrikaner, Portuguese and Dutch origin as well, who make up approximately 0.5% of the total population. (It is currently extremely hard to keep track of the current trends of the white population. As the last census is almost certainly inaccurate, the figure could be as high as 1.5% of the total population or as low as 0.01% of the total population.) Because of the economic climate in Zimbabwe, many whites had to make a quick escape and therefore many businesses and properties are still in the hands of white Zimbabwean citizens living abroad. It is possible that any long term change in Zimbabwe's economic and political situation may bring many white Zimbabweans home. The white population dropped from a peak of around 280,000-300,000 in 1975-1979 to about 70,000 in the mid 1990s. The 2001 census put the white population at around 50,000 although this is probably an understatement because of domicile issues. Most white emigration has been to the UK, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Australia and New Zealand. Before the economic and political crisis began in the late 1990s, there were 50,000 Mixed race citizens as well as various Asian ethnic groups (40,000), mostly of Indian and Chinese origin. They have played an influential role in the economic sector. However, both the mixed-race and Asian ethnic groups have dwindled (now each less than 0.01% of the population) as most of these people have fled Zimbabwe along with most whites and three to four million black Zimbabweans. In fact it has been estimated that one-quarter to one-third of Zimbabweans have fled en masse mostly to South Africa and neighboring countries as well as overseas to Britain as Zimbabwe's economy has imploded over the last ten years.


According to the United Nations World Health Organization, the life expectancy for men is 37 years and the life expectancy for women is 34 years of age, the lowest in the world in 2006.[5] An association of doctors in Zimbabwe have made calls for President Mugabe to make moves to assist the ailing health service.[6] Zimbabwe has a very high HIV infection rate. In 2001 it was measured at its highest level ever of 33.7% for people aged 15–49.


English is the official language of Zimbabwe, though less than 2.5%, mainly the white and Coloured (mixed race) minorities, consider it their native language. The rest of the population speak Shona (50%) and Ndebele (10%) Kalanga (25%), etc.[7] Shona has a rich oral tradition, which was incorporated into the first Shona novel, Feso by Solomon Mutswairo, published in 1956.[8] English is spoken primarily in the cities, but less so in rural areas. Television news is broadcasted in English,but radio broadcasts in English, Ndebele, Shona, Kalanga, Nambya, Venda, Suthu and Tonga. English, Ndebele and Shona are given far more airtime.


Sixty two percent of Zimbabweans attend Christian churches [9]. The largest Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Methodist. However like most former European colonies, Christianity is often mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Besides Christianity, ancestral worship (Amadlozi) is the most practiced non-Christian religion which involves ancestor worship and spiritual intercession;. Under 1% of the population is Muslim, although many Zimbabweans are influenced by Islamic food laws.

Refugee crisis

The economic meltdown and repressive political measures in Zimbabwe has led to a flood of refugees into neighboring countries. An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population, had fled abroad by mid 2007.[10] Some 3 million of these have gone to South Africa.[11]

Aside from those who fled into the neighbouring countries, an estimated 570,000 people are displaced within the borders of the country, many of whom remain in transit camps and have limited access to assistance. Most of the displaced have been victims of the Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 and continuing evictions and violent farm seizures. Their plight is virtually impossible to assess, as there has been no national survey of people displaced since 2005.[12]

Demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.



  • 11,350,111 (July 2008 est.)
  • 12,576,742 (July, 2003 est.)
  • 11,342,521 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure

estimates for 2007:

0-14 years: 37.2% (male 2,308,731/female 2,266,027); this has fallen from around 40% over the last 10 years;
15-64 years: 59.3% (male 3,663,108/female 3,641,519); this has risen despite higher death rates due to tuberculosis and other diseases associated with AIDS;
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 198,867/female 232,891); not rising due to the sharp fall in life expectancy over the period 1992 to 2007.

The Median age of the population, 20.1, is rising steadily due to a combination of lower birth rates and high death rates.

Population growth rate

500% (2007 est.), 0.83% (2003 est.), 0.26% (2000 est.)

Birth rate

27.7 births/1,000 population (2007 est.), 30.34 births/1,000 population (2003 est.), 25 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate

22.7 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.), 25.02 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.), 22.43 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate

Unknown due to illegal border crossing but possibly as high 15-18/1,000 population annually over the period 1999-2007.

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female (2003, 2000 est.)
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003, 2000 est.)
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003, 2000 est.)
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003 est.), 1.03 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003, 2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 66.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.), 62.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
female: 63.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 69.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)

Percentage of population malnourished

45 percent

AIDS adult infection rate

33.7% (2001 est.), 25% (1999 estimate).

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

2.3 million (2001 est.)

Deaths from AIDS

200,000 (2001 est.), 160,000 annually (1999 estimate).

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 39.01 years (2003 est.), 37.78 years (2000 est.)
male: 40.09 years (2003 est.), 39.18 years (2000 est.)
female: 37.89 years (2003 est.), 36.34 years (2000 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 90.7% (2003 est.), 85% (2000 est.)
male: 94.2% (2003 est.), 90% (2000 est.)
female: 87.2% (2003 est.), 80% (1995 est.)


  • noun: Zimbabwean(s)
  • adjective: Zimbabwean

See also



PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2007 edition".


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