What You Need to Know

Map of Harare- Zimbabwe

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Harare is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe. Situated in the north-east of the country in the heart of historic Mashonaland, Harare is a metropolitan province, which also incorporates Chitungwiza town and Epworth. It is situated at an elevation of 1,483 metres (4,865 feet) and its climate falls into the subtropical highland category.

The city was founded in 1890 by the Pioneer Column, a small military force in the service of the British South Africa Company, and named Fort Salisbury after the British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. Company administrators demarcated the city and ran it until Southern Rhodesia achieved responsible government in 1923. Salisbury was thereafter the seat of the Southern Rhodesian (later Rhodesian) government and, between 1953 and 1963, the capital of the Central African Federation. It retained the name Salisbury until 1982, when it was renamed Harare on the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence.

Area: 370.9 mi²
Population: 1.485 million


  • The Zimbabwean dollar was the official currency of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 12 April 2009, with a period of inflation, followed by hyperinflation.The Zimbabwe dollar was introduced in 1980 to directly replace the Rhodesian dollar at par (1:1) and at a similar value to the US dollar. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reduced it to one of the lowest valued currency units in the world. It was redenominated three times (in 2006, 2008 and 2009), with denominations up to a $100 trillion banknote. The final redenomination produced the “fourth dollar” (ZWL), which was worth 1025 ZWD (first dollars).Use of the Zimbabwean dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. The Zimbabwean dollar was demonetised in 2015, with outstanding accounts able to be reimbursed until April 30, 2016.Currencies such as the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, Indian rupee, euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar and the United States dollar are now used for all transactions in Zimbabwe. In December 2015, Zimbabwe added the Chinese yuan to its basket of currencies.
  • Zimbabwe is a cash society and the use of credit cards is almost non-existent. Visitors need to plan for their debit and credit cards to be unusable.
  • credit cards and debit cards cannot be used to obtain cash. Travelers to Zimbabwe are encouraged to pre-pay as many expenses as possible through their travel planners, and must bring cash for all recreational activities.


Harare has a pleasant subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). The average annual temperature is 17.95 °C (64.3 °F), rather low for the tropics, and this is due to its high altitude position and the prevalence of a cool south-easterly airflow.

There are three main seasons: a warm, wet season from November to March/April; a cool, dry season from May to August (corresponding to winter in the Southern Hemisphere); and a hot, dry season in September/October. Daily temperature ranges are about 7–22 °C (45–72 °F) in July (the coldest month), about 15–29 °C (59–84 °F) in October (the hottest month) and about 16–26 °C (61–79 °F) in January (midsummer). The hottest year on record was 1914 with 19.73 °C (67.5 °F) and the coldest year was 1965 with 17.13 °C (62.8 °F).

The average annual rainfall is about 825 mm (32.5 in) in the southwest, rising to 855 mm (33.7 in) on the higher land of the northeast (from around Borrowdale to Glen Lorne). Very little rain typically falls during the period May to September, although sporadic showers occur most years. Rainfall varies a great deal from year to year and follows cycles of wet and dry periods from 7 to 10 years long. Records begin in October 1890 but all three Harare stations stopped reporting in early 2004.

The climate supports a natural vegetation of open woodland. The most common tree of the local region is the Msasa Brachystegia spiciformis that colours the landscape wine red with its new leaves in late August. Two South American species of trees, the Jacaranda and the Flamboyant, which were introduced during the colonial era, contribute to the city’s colour palette with streets lined with either the lilac blossoms of the Jacaranda or the flame red blooms from the Flamboyant. They flower in October/November and are planted on alternative streets in the capital. Also prevalent is Bougainvillea.


Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. English, Shona and Ndebele are the most widely spoken languages in the country. Approximately 70{e5072a3f2cb482fba6f61c7569490dec8ae71265ec662ce6f4727e0fe1a0f438} of the population is Shona speaking and speaks Shona as their first language. Also it is said that around 20{e5072a3f2cb482fba6f61c7569490dec8ae71265ec662ce6f4727e0fe1a0f438} are Ndebele and speak IsiNdebele as their first language.

Health and security

  • The standard of healthcare in Zimbabwe is low, although the best of it can be found in Harare. The country has suffered from an exodus of healthcare professionals looking for better conditions elsewhere, while HIV/AIDS is a major concern for the local population.Hospitals and clinics in Harare are of a reasonable standard compared to the rest of the country. Foreigners will likely be expected to pay for treatment upfront and then claim it back on their insurance later. It is best to arrange insurance privately, probably outside of Zimbabwe, as the government healthcare system is poor. By far the largest medical center in the country is Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, but the best option for foreigners seeking medical treatment is often a private facility, which can be very expensive, though.For minor treatment and appointments, the Zimbabas site has a list of doctors in Harare, listed by area of expertise. The general emergency number for Zimbabwe is 999, and 994 can also be used for medical emergencies.
  • There is a moderate level of crime People travelling alone may be more vulnerable. Mugging, pick pocketing and jewellery theft are common in city centres, especially after dark. Street lighting can be poor. Remain vigilant at Harare International Airport and when leaving banks and cash points. Don’t carry large amounts of cash.There have been occasional armed robberies targeting foreign residents. Make sure your accommodation is secure at all times.
    There have been thefts and smash-and-grab robberies from vehicles, including at the main intersections along the route to Harare International Airport and on the Masvingo-Beitbridge road. You should be particularly vigilant when using these routes. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed. Be careful at night and at filling stations. Don’t leave your vehicle unattended in unguarded areas in towns.


  • This beautiful and great country has been through turmoil in the past years. You will know what has been happening. An important word of advice: As a foreign traveller always remember you are a guest in a country which pays absolutely no attention to International Law. Dont come to the country and try and be a Che Guevarra or Nelson Mandela and try and fight the law. This is not a democratic country and as a foreigner always remember this Government will not tolerate any slight form of criticism, keep it to yourself.
  • Never, ever, ever stop your vehicle around the President’s palace. Intentionally or not! Even if your car breaks down in front of the palace…hurry up and push it as fast as you can out of there. Even if it is not your fault, the guards might come after you and harass you, or worse.


    • Harare may be a large city, but the wonders of African wildlife are accessible within 30 minutes. Mukuvisi Woodlands offers walks and horseback rides through the reserve, where you can expect to see giraffe, rhino, elephants and a multitude of other game. It can be found near the edge of the city on Paget Road, Glenara.

Just outside Harare there is a spot that is easy to access and quick to climb. If you’re looking for a great location to survey the land and enjoy a drink as the sun sets, Domboshawa is the ideal place. Situated about 25km north of Harare city centre, along the Domboshawa Road, this orange granite outcrop gives visitors an incredible 360° view of the beautiful Mashonaland country.