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Location and Geography of Zimbabwe

The south central African country, Zimbabwe lies almost entirely over 1,000 feet (300 metres) above sea level. It is bordered by South Africa on the south, Zambia on the north, Mozambique on the east, and Botswana on the west.


To the south, Zimbabwe is separated from South Africa by the Limpopo River. The north-western border is defined by the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe's highest peak is Mount Nyangani (formerly Mount Inyangani), at 2,592 m (8,504 ft); it lies within the Nyanga National Park in the east of the country. The lowest point of Zimbabwe is the junction of the Runde and Save rivers 162 m (531 ft). Victoria Falls is a popular tourist destination on the Zambezi.

Its principal physical feature is the broad ridge running 400 miles from southwest to northeast across the entire country, which separates Zimbabwe from Mozambique. About 50 miles wide, this ridge ranges in altitude from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, until it eventually rises to 8,504 feet (2,592 metres) at Mount Inyangani, the highest point in Zimbabwe, in the eastern highlands. This ridge is known as the Highveld and comprises about 25 percent of the country's total area.

On each side of this central spine, sloping down northward to the Zambezi River and southward to the Limpopo River, lies the wider plateau of the Middleveld, which, at an altitude between about 3,000 and 4,000 feet, makes up roughly 40 percent of Zimbabwe's area.

Beyond this again and mostly in the south, where the Sabi, Lundi, and Nuanetsi rivers drain from the plateau into the Limpopo, lies the Lowveld, which constitutes approximately 23 percent of the country's total area. The lowest point in Zimbabwe lies at an altitude of 660 feet near Dumela, where the Limpopo flows into Mozambique. There are no parts of Zimbabwe that can properly be called desert, although a sector northwest of Plumtree and a lengthy belt across the Lowveld in the south are severely arid.

The landscape is characterized by extensive outcroppings of Precambrian rock, which is between 570 million and 3.8 billion years old. The most ancient part of this rock formation, known as the basement complex, covers the greater part of the country.

Belts of schist in the basement complex contain the veins and lodes of most of the country's gold, silver, and other commercial minerals.

The Great Dyke, which is up to 8 miles wide and about 330 miles long, is another notable landscape feature. The longest linear mass of mafic and ultramafic rocks in the world, the Great Dyke bisects the country from north to south and contains enormous reserves of chromium, nickel, and platinum.

Zimbabwe's climate is largely tropical, however this is moderated by altitude. It has a short rainy season which lasts about four months between November and March. The terrain of Zimbabwe is mostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld) and a mountainous range in the east.

Natural hazards in Zimbabwe include recurring droughts and unpredictable rainfall, though severe storms are rare.

Last Updated on Monday 4th August 2008