Terrain shapes and bedrock
Zimbabwe is a highland and mountainous country, especially in the middle parts, and shows a clear symmetry in its structure. A notable high ridge, Highveld, runs through the country in a northeast – southwest direction. It is about 80 km wide and 640 km long and has an average height of 1,200–1,500 m above sea level. To the east, in the Inyanga Mountains, it reaches the country’s highest point, Inyangani, 2,592 m above sea level. On both sides of this elevation axis, the same direction spreads to Middleveld, which is wider plateaus of 900–1,200 m above sea level. Outside and even lower stretches, especially in the south, the Lowveld, where the rivers Save (Sabi), Runde and Mwenezi flow south and Mwenezi join Limpopo. In the north, several rivers flow towards Zambezi and the Caribou Dam.
According to COUNTRYAAH, most of Zimbabwe is made up of Precambrian rocks, mainly granites. The Matopokulls south of Bulawayo are known for their large rounded granite and gneiss blocks that balance one another. There are also plenty of isolated hills with granite core blocks, so-called kopjes. An up to 13 km wide slide runs through the bedrock 510 km in the north – south direction. Sedimentary rocks such as slate, sandstone and clay are found in the Zambezi Valley as well as in parts of southern Lowveld. The soil is mostly covered by sandy and leached soils.
The altitude conditions in Zimbabwe help to make the climate subtropical and sunny instead of tropical. The average temperature in areas of about 1,400 m asl. for July, the coldest month, 14 °C and for October, the warmest, 21 °C. Dry time prevails during May – September and rainy season during October – April, when precipitation is enhanced by monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean. According to BRIDGAT, the rainfall in the eastern highlands is 1,000 mm per year, while the furthest to the south is 400 mm per year.
The vegetation is mainly dry forests, but small areas with mountain rainforest also exist. In the dry savanna forests, the tree layer is dominated by the genera Brachysteʹgia, Julbernaʹrdia and acacias with undergrowth of, among other things. the grass Hyparrheʹnia, Eragroʹstis and Pogonaʹrthria.
In the Nyanga mountains, there are rainforests dominated by species such as Syzyʹgium masukeʹnse, Afrocraʹnia volkeʹnsii or the conifer tree Widdringtoʹnia cupressoiʹdes. The mountain rain forest also includes trees such as Podocaʹrpus, Rapaneʹa and Diospyʹros as well as at lower altitudes Syzyʹgium guineeʹnse, Khaʹya and Chrysophyʹllum. At higher altitude, shrub vegetation occurs with Philiʹppia, Eriʹca and Proʹtea, as well as mixed plant communities with hard-leafed species.
The fauna is very rich with many savanna and forest species. There are about 270 species of mammals, about 530 species of nesting birds, just over 150 species of reptiles and about 120 species of amphibians.
Most of the large African mammals are found on the savanna. African elephant, giraffe, African buffalo, common zebra and antelopes such as eland, larger kudu, wildebeest and koantelopes. Both pointed and stubborn rhinos have strong populations in Zimbabwe. Even in the bushy bushveld, which in the west is reminiscent of Kalahari, the fauna is rich with more than 50 species of larger mammals in the Hwange National Park. Lions, leopards and spotted hyena are widespread, and in the bushveld there are brown hyena and caracal. However, as a result of cultivation, many species have disappeared from large areas.
The savannas are very bird-rich with, for example. ostrich, chiropractor, secretary bird and several species of vultures, eagles, storks, egrets, honey cucumbers, bee eaters, bush eagle squirrels, weavers and shining starlings. Among snakes are African eggnog (Dasypeʹltis scaʹbra), rock python, puff spider, black mamba, mock cobra and boom snake.
In 2010, Zimbabwe had eleven national parks, of which Hwange in the far west is the largest. Including extensive state forests, safari areas and amusement parks, a total of 13% of the country’s area has some form of protection. The country has well-preserved nature conservation areas.