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Africa 2006,

The remains of humans dating back 500,000 years have been discovered in the region. The country traces its history backed to about 500 when the city of Great Zimbabwe (house of stone) was developed by the ancestors of the Shona. Around the middle of the 19th Century, the territoy was invaded by Ndebele or Matabele migrants from the south. In 1890, Cecil John Rhodes' British South Africa Company (BSA) started a white settlement at Salibury (today Harare, capital of Zimbabwe). The territory was named Rhodesia, after Rhodes, and in 1923 white settlers were give the choice of joining South Africa or becoming a self-governing colony within the British Empire. The opted for the latter. By law the best cropland was reserved for a rapidly-growing white settlement.

Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo's Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and Robert Gabriel Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led the black protest against this inequity. They resorted to arms in 1965 when Prime Minister Ian Smith and his ruling Rhodesian Front issued a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). UN-imposed sanctions and a protracted guerilla war on two fronts involving ZAPU and ZANU forced Smith to the negotiating table and in April 1980 Zimbabwe gained independence under Prime Minister (later President) Robert Mugabe. He soon nullified Nkomo's role and his newly formed ZANU-Patriotic Front won 116 of the 120 parliamentary seats in 1990, giving him virtual one-party rule. Land resettlement remained a hot political issue with one-third of the country's arable land occupied by 4,000 white farmers. Mugabe's open support for forceful occupation of white farmland by displaced "war veterans" placed him at the center of a storm that led to near victory for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the June 2000 elections. In March 2002, Mugabe defeated Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC in a presidential election that was widely condemned by overseas observers as rigged and rife with intimidation. Mugabe has continued pressing for th evacuation of white farmers despite widespread opposition from abroad. The international community has attempted to coerce Mugabe into relaxing restrictions imposed on the opposition.