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Ethnic Groups and Language Zimbabwes population is divided into two major linguistic and ethnic groups the Shona and the Ndebele Numerous Shona subgroups such as the Tavara Korekore and Manyika are traditionally distinguished by region and dialect of Shona Altogether the Shona constitute 71 percent of the population The Ndebele minority representing 16 percent of the population speak a language related to Zulu and are concentrated in the southwest There are small but politically and economically significant minorities of people of Asian and European descent as well as immigrants from nearby African countries principally Mozambique English is the official language of Zimbabwe and is used in government and education Some of the white population are of Afrikaner origin and speak Afrikaans Religion Protestant and Catholic missionaries attempted to spread Christianity into what is now Zimbabwe starting in the early 17th century However they made few converts until the establishment of British colonial control in the late 19th century An estimated 55 percent of the population are Christian and most of the rest adhere to traditional religions The largest Christian churches are Anglican Roman Catholic and Methodist Each church draws its following from black and white segments of the population and from across social ranks There are also a large number of African independent churches The country also has small groups of Greek Orthodox Christians Jews and Muslims Economy Zimbabwes economy is well balanced between market agriculture mining manufacturing and tourism with a considerable subsistence-farming sector In the late 19th century the peoples of the region practiced mixed farming with cattle ranching predominating in the drier south and west Gold mining and trade supplemented agriculture The arrival of Europeans led to the growth of the commercial farming sector Much of the best land was taken over by white settlers who grew maize or fruit or practiced mixed farming By the 1930s the mainstay of settler agriculture was tobacco Large numbers of low-paid Africans worked settler farms
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