Harare is the capital city of Zimbabwe with an estimated population of 1,600,000 (2006). The city which is located at 17°51′50″S, 31°1′47″E is Zimbabwe's largest city and it is the administrative, commercial, and communications centre. The city is set on a high-lying plateau, above the sweltering river lowlands of the Zambezi in the north and the Limpopo River in the south. It is a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Manufactures include textiles, steel, and chemicals. Gold is mined in the area too.
Harare is one of the most prosperous and developed cities in southern Africa. It is also called "Sunshine City" because of its year-round good weather. It has many beautiful parks and gardens. The city is multi-racial and ethnic, making a rich culture of different people and languages.
Harare was founded in 1890 as a fort by the Pioneer Column, a mercenary force organized by Cecil Rhodes. Originally, the city was named Salisbury after the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, then British prime minister. Salisbury was the capital of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963.
After World War II, the population grew as many people migrated to the city. Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 and during the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence (April 18th, 1982) the citys name was changed to Harare, the Shona chieftain Neharawa. The city borrows its name from the first Shona inhabitants of the marshy flats near The Kopje (inselberg) on which it stands today who were called Ne-Harawa after the regional chief - Haarare (one who does not sleep).
Harare has been adversely affected by the political and economic crisis that is currently plaguing Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean government demolished shantytowns in Harare and the other cities in the country in Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005. This led to a sharp reaction in the international community because it took place without prior warning and no advance plans were made to provide alternative housing.
It was widely alleged that the true purpose of the campaign was to punish the urban poor for supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and to reduce the likelihood of mass action against the government by driving people out of the cities. The government claimed it was necessitated by a rise of criminality and disease.
The city is a mosaic of high-rise office blocks and well-preserved, historic buildings. Harare is best known for its numerous and extensive gardens. The world renowned Shona sculptures are a major attraction. The city offers soccer, the most popular sport, horse racing, tennis, rugby and water sports.
www.queencity.com/sca/tour_harare.shtml en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harare www.infoplease.com/ce6/world/A0822679.html
By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer
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