Zimbabwe People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


14,829,988 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected


noun: Zimbabwean(s)

adjective: Zimbabwean

Ethnic groups

African 99.4% (predominantly Shona; Ndebele is the second largest ethnic group), other 0.4%, unspecified 0.2% (2012 est.)


Shona (official; most widely spoken), Ndebele (official, second most widely spoken), English (official; traditionally used for official business), 13 minority languages (official; includes Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa)


Protestant 74.8% (includes Apostolic 37.5%, Pentecostal 21.8%, other 15.5%), Roman Catholic 7.3%, other Christian 5.3%, traditional 1.5%, Muslim 0.5%, other 0.1%, none 10.5% (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Zimbabwe’s progress in reproductive, maternal, and child health has stagnated in recent years. According to a 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, contraceptive use, the number of births attended by skilled practitioners, and child mortality have either stalled or somewhat deteriorated since the mid-2000s. Zimbabwe’s total fertility rate has remained fairly stable at about 4 children per woman for the last two decades, although an uptick in the urban birth rate in recent years has caused a slight rise in the country’s overall fertility rate. Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate dropped from approximately 29% to 15% since 1997 but remains among the world’s highest and continues to suppress the country’s life expectancy rate. The proliferation of HIV/AIDS information and prevention programs and personal experience with those suffering or dying from the disease have helped to change sexual behavior and reduce the epidemic.

Historically, the vast majority of Zimbabwe’s migration has been internal – a rural-urban flow. In terms of international migration, over the last 40 years Zimbabwe has gradually shifted from being a destination country to one of emigration and, to a lesser degree, one of transit (for East African illegal migrants traveling to South Africa). As a British colony, Zimbabwe attracted significant numbers of permanent immigrants from the UK and other European countries, as well as temporary economic migrants from Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Although Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa since the beginning of the 20th century to work as miners, the first major exodus from the country occurred in the years before and after independence in 1980. The outward migration was politically and racially influenced; a large share of the white population of European origin chose to leave rather than live under a new black-majority government.

In the 1990s and 2000s, economic mismanagement and hyperinflation sparked a second, more diverse wave of emigration. This massive out migration – primarily to other southern African countries, the UK, and the US – has created a variety of challenges, including brain drain, illegal migration, and human smuggling and trafficking. Several factors have pushed highly skilled workers to go abroad, including unemployment, lower wages, a lack of resources, and few opportunities for career growth.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.32% (male 2,759,155/female 2,814,462)

15-24 years: 20.16% (male 1,436,710/female 1,495,440)

25-54 years: 32.94% (male 2,456,392/female 2,334,973)

55-64 years: 4.07% (male 227,506/female 363,824)

65 years and over: 4.52% (male 261,456/female 396,396) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 81.6

youth dependency ratio: 76.1

elderly dependency ratio: 5.5

potential support ratio: 18.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 20.5 years

male: 20.3 years

female: 20.6 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.94% (2021 est.)

Birth rate

33.34 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Death rate

9.02 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Net migration rate

-4.93 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Population distribution

Aside from major urban agglomerations in Harare and Bulawayo, population distribution is fairly even, with slightly greater overall numbers in the eastern half as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 32.3% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.41% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.542 million HARARE (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.63 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.3 years (2015 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality rate

458 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 29.41 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 33.15 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 25.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 62.83 years

male: 60.7 years

female: 65.02 years (2021 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.91 children born/woman (2021 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

66.8% (2015)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98% of population

rural: 67.4% of population

total: 77.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 2% of population

rural: 32.6% of population

total: 22.7% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

4.7% (2018)

Physicians density

0.21 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 96.1% of population

rural: 49% of population

total: 64.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.9% of population

rural: 51% of population

total: 35.8% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

11.9% (2020 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

1.3 million (2020 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

22,000 (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

15.5% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

9.7% (2019)

Education expenditures

5.9% of GDP (2018)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write English

total population: 86.5%

male: 88.5%

female: 84.6% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 12 years

female: 11 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 27.5%

male: 25%

female: 31.4% (2019 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Zimbabwe on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Zimbabwe 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Zimbabwe 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.