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Zimbabwe, People and Society

In 2002 Zimbabwe’s population was estimated to be 11,376,676, giving the country a population density of 29 persons per sq km (75 per sq mi). With a birth rate of 25 per 1,000 and a death rate of 24 per 1,000, Zimbabwe’s population growth rate is 0.1 percent. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 37 years in 2002, down from 59 years in 1985. This drastic decline is largely attributable to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in Zimbabwe that began in the late 1980s. Zimbabwe’s people have steadily drifted away from rural areas to the towns and cities since the 1980s. Still, by 2000 just 35 percent of the populated lived in urban areas.

Harare, the capital, is the center of government and a manufacturing and distribution hub for the surrounding agricultural area. Harare is located in north central Zimbabwe. The second most important city is Bulawayo, which was the capital of the Ndebele kingdom in the 19th century and is now the principal city of the southwest. The only other towns of significant size are Chitungwiza, Gweru, and Mutare.

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