Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, and formerly Southern Rhodesia, the Republic of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Rhodesia, is a landlocked country in the southern part of the continent of Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east. The official language of Zimbabwe is English. However, the majority of the population speaks Shona, which is the native language of the Shona people; the other native language of Zimbabwe being Sindebele, which is spoken by the Matabele people.
From circa 1250–1629, the area that is known as Zimbabwe today was ruled under the Mutapa Empire, also known as MweneMutapa, Monomotapa or the Empire of Great Zimbabwe, which was renowned for its gold trade routes with Arabs. However, Portuguese settlers destroyed the trade and began a series of wars which left the empire near collapse in the early 17th century. In 1834, the Ndebele people arrived while fleeing from the Zulu leader Shaka, making the area their new empire, Matabeleland. In the 1880s, the British arrived with Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company. In 1898, the name Southern Rhodesia was adopted.
As colonial rule was ending throughout the continent, and as African-majority governments assumed control in neighboring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority Rhodesia government led by Ian Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. The United Kingdom deemed this an act of rebellion, but did not re-establish control by force. The white-minority government declared itself a "republic" in 1970. It was not recognized by the UK or any other state, other than white minority-led South Africa.
A civil war ensued, with Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU and Robert Mugabe's ZANU using assistance from the governments of Zambia and Mozambique.
On 18 April 1980, the country attained recognized independence and along with it a new name, Zimbabwe, new flag, and government led by Robert Mugabe of ZANU. Canaan Banana served as the first president with Mugabe as Prime Minister. In 1987, the government amended the Constitution to provide for an Executive President and abolished the office of Prime Minister. The constitutional changes went into effect on 1 January 1988, establishing Robert Mugabe as President.
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