Harare is in the northeast on an elevation of over 1,400 m. The city is the administrative, industrial and commercial hub of Zimbabwe.
Before British occupation in 1890 Harare was part of the domain of Chief Neherawa of Seki, and it is from him that the town takes its name. The British originally called the city Salisbury. It was used as a base for gold mining operations within the Zambezi valley. The gold never materialized, but the town remained an important centre of commerce and industry, attracting settlers who were looking for farmland. Racial segregation was a part of the town’s life from the outset.
In 1923 Salisbury became the seat of colonial government in the region. Between 1953–63 it was the capital of the Federation of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and of Rhodesia during the period of the unilateral declaration of independence. Having gained independence, Zimbabwe retained Salisbury as its capital and renamed it Harare.
Harare is the main distributive centre for tobacco. It is easily accessible by road, rail and air—the international airport is situated in nearby Kentucky. The centre is well planned with the downtown streets laid out in a grid, making it one of the less chaotic African cities.
Places of Interest
The National Art Gallery showcases a major collection of African art as well as the celebrated stone sculptures of Joram Nyanga and the work of a number of Shona sculptors. The picturesque Harare gardens and numerous other botanical gardens are located in and around the city. Just outside Harare, attractions include the ancient rock paintings of Dombawasha and the scenic Lake Chivero Recreational Park.