12 Fun Facts About Zimbabwe’s Culture, Nature and Wildlife

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Zimbabwe is home to many great national parks and savannahs that will give you the best taste of Africa’s culture, nature, and wildlife. It also has the world’s largest man-made lake, Lake Kariba, which separates it from its sibling country Zambia.

Zimbabwe derives its name from its ancient city of Great Zimbabwe, which means houses of stones in the Shona language. Did you know about this medieval city was once a wealthy kingdom?

I have 12 more fun facts about this amazing country.

1. The National Flower Is Poisonous

The beautiful and bright Flame Lily is the national flower of Zimbabwe. Don’t be swayed by this pretty flower’s appearance, as it is poisonous when consumed.

Flame Lily

With high concentrations of colchicine, this bloom can lead to fatalities. Parts of this flower are used for medicinal use in lower concentrations.

During a visit to then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in 1947, Queen Elizabeth II was gifted a brooch in a flame lily’s shape.

2. Zimbabwe Is One Of The Most Literate Amongst Other Siblings

While Zimbabwe has always been in the media due to its economic instability and unemployment ratio, many of its citizens can certainly read and write. The country still has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.

3. Zimbabwe Has 16 Official Languages

Yes, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, of which English, Shona, and Ndebele are the most widely spoken. Other languages are Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, Sotho, Tongo, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Sign Language.

Adopting 16 languages in the 2013 constitution has earned Zimbabwe the title of the country with the most official languages.

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4. Home To Critically Endangered Black Rhinos

The Black Rhinos are on the brink of extinction greatly due to poaching for their highly-prized horns. Fortunately, these endangered species are typically found within conservation areas where they are protected.

A Black Rhino standing on a field

Zimbabwe has a high density of Black Rhinos and I recommend joining a safari to watch these giant beasts. Matoba National Park and Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve is where these enormous mammals are best spotted.

5. Zimbabwe Is Blessed With Mineral Reserves!

Zimbabwe’s economy has a major contribution from the mining sector. This African nation has abundant mineral reserves, one of the largest producers of platinum.

The country also has huge deposits of gold chromium ore, iron ore, nickel, lithium, tin, and copper, making mining one of the crucial industries. No wonder it was once a wealthy nation.

6. A Total Of 8 Official Currencies!

No jokes here! Zimbabwe had eight official currencies legitimized in 2008 due to hyperinflation. Remember those wheelbarrows of cash floating around on social media?

People could instead trade in the U.S. dollar, South African Rand, Botswana Pula, British Pound Sterling, Australian Dollar, Chinese Yuan, Indian Rupees, and Japanese Yen. These foreign currencies were introduced after demonetizing the Zimbabwe dollar to cope with inflation.

7. Zimbabwe Boasts 5 World Heritage Sites

Great Zimbabwe National Monument has ruins of the ancient iron age city. It was admired for the city’s traditional architecture of stone structures and is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument ruins

Khami Ruins National Monument, Matobo hills, Victoria Falls, Mana Pools National Park, Sapi, and Chewore Safari Areas are the other World Heritage sites. They give a glimpse of African history, exotic wildlife and woodlands.

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8. A Huge Belly = Success In Zimbabwe

In a world where a lean and muscular body is admired, people in Zimbabwe look up to those with a big tummy.

Zimbabweans consider people with huge bellies to have regular access to good food and meat. And this could be only possible if you are affluent.

9. Zimbabwe Has One Hundred Trillion Dollar Bill

I didn’t know the number of zeroes in one hundred trillion, and I was startled when I learned about this fact. Zimbabwe printed one hundred trillion denomination notes while combating inflation in the early 2000s.

Trillion Dollar Bills from Zimbabwe

But it was not as worthy as one might imagine. Due to the hyperinflation, the value of these huge denominations above was just peanuts.

10. You Will Experience “The Smoke That Thunders” In Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls on the Zambezi river is the largest waterfall on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you plan to visit this scenic wonder of the world, you will know why Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya (The smoke that thunders)

You can hear water flowing sound as thunder from a distance of 40 km, and the mist rising seems no less than smoke. This landscape also serves as a habitat for varied wildlife that flourishes here.

You can enjoy various activities here in Victoria Falls, like elephant back safaris or bungee jumping for the adrenaline kick.

11. Zimbabweans Play Mbira For Thousands Of Years

Mbira is a traditional musical instrument native to the Shona community, with its use spanning thousands of years.

A woman playing Mbira

This thumb piano is still played during gatherings by Zimbabweans and it’s one of the only musical instrument I personally enjoy playing.

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12. Zimbabwe Has A Low Life Expectancy Rate

Compared to many African countries, Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancies at 62 years.

This is often blamed on poor living conditions and economic struggles. Life in the country has improved in the past few years, but it is still low in this poverty-stricken part of the world.

Joshua Smith

Joshua has visited 10 countries and has another 110 to go! He plans to sail around the world over 5 years, and then spend the next 5 years driving around the world in a 4×4. He prefers to explore the more remote places without the tourists, and yet, doesn’t mind the ritzy feel of business class at 10,000 feet either.

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