Zimbabwe's key facts

by Meyer Sosland
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Capital: Harare

Population: 12,311,143 (July 2007 est.)

Religions: Syncretic (part Christian, part indigenous beliefs) 50%, Christian 25%, indigenous beliefs 24%, Muslim and other 1%

Location: Southern Africa, between South Africa and Zambia

Government: Parliamentary democracy; Chief of state and head of government: Executive President Robert Gabriel Mugabe (since Dec. 31, 1987).

Economy: The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles with an unsustainable fiscal deficit, an overvalued exchange rate, soaring inflation, and bare shelves. Its 1998-2002 involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. The government’s land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, has badly damaged the commercial farming sector — the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange and the provider of 400,000 jobs — turning Zimbabwe into a net importer of food products. Badly needed support from the International Monetary Fund has been suspended because of the government’s arrears on past loans, which it began repaying in 2005. The official annual inflation rate rose from 32% in 1998, to 133% in 2004, 585% in 2005, and approached 1,000% in 2006, although private sector estimates put the figure much higher. Meanwhile, the official exchange rate fell from approximately 1 (revalued) Zimbabwean dollar per U.S. dollar in 2003 to 160 per U.S. dollar in 2006.

GDP: $25.58 billion (PPP2006 est.); Inflation: 1,033% (2006 est.); unemployment 80% (2005 est.)

Currency: Zimbabwean dollar; 162 Zimbabwean dollars equals 1 U.S. dollar (2006)

Exports: $1.649 billion fob (2006 est.); cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing

Imports: $2.04 billion fob (2006 est.); machinery and transport equipment, other manufactures, chemicals, fuels

Major crops/agricultural products: Maize, cotton, tobacco, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts; sheep, goats, pigs

Agriculture: 16.7% of GDP and 66% of the labor force

Internet: Code. .zw; 15,507 million hosts and 1.22 million users

Source: CIA World Factbook