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< BACKGeography - Environment - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a beautiful, lush country with contrasting landscapes and stunning scenery. The Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers form borders in the south and north respectively and the land rises gradually from these two river valleys to a central plateau of msasa and mopane savanna woodland. The Zambezi frames the country’s northern edge for 715km and encompasses the magnificent Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and the wilderness area of Mana Pools. The main towns and cities are located on the fertile ridge, as are many of the farms.

The Mvurwi mountains in the north, the Matobo Hills in the south west and the Mashava Hills in the central region are all located along the central ridge. Another range of mountains forms the border with Moçambique in the east, these are the Nyanga, Bvumba & Chimanimani which are known collectively as the Eastern Highlands. 35% of the countries area is lowveld, and many of the prime wilderness areas are found here including Kariba & Gonarezhou National Park

A short rainy season with heavy storms and little water replenishing the underground water table means that drought can still be a problem. Despite being in the tropics, Zimbabwe's climate is more on the temperate side due to the high altitude of the central plateau.

The countryside is dominated by vast tracts of native trees on the highveld. These ancient woodlands are still impressive, even taking into account the destruction caused by removal for firewood. Indigenous species include Msasa, Munondo, Paperback thorn, Nyanga flattop acacia & Mopane. The so-called 'Rhodesian teak' is a beautiful species which, along with other hardwoods, has been used for much of the beautiful furniture and carvings for sale in Zimbabwe. These woodland areas in turn support a great variety of bird and animal life.

Tall grasslands are present throughout much of the country, and over 5,000 species of flowering plants can be found, many of which are still used medicinally. The beautiful flame lily is Zimbabwe's National Flower. Animal species have always thrived here and some of Africa's most impressive species may be seen in Parks such as Hwange and Mana Pools. Unfortunately poaching is difficult to control, and with so many people unable to fulfil their basic needs at present, Zimbabwe's wildlife is severely under threat.

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