Zimbabwe (// zim-BAHB-way), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. The capital is Harare. Zimbabwe achieved de jure sovereignty from the United Kingdom in April 1980, following 14 years as an unrecognised state under the conservative white minority government of Rhodesia, which unilaterally declared independence in 1965.
Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the rugged south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, close to the Chimanimani Mountains and the Chipinge District. The site is not far from the country's border with Mozambique, which is located in the southeast of the African continent. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age. The monument first began to be constructed in the 11th century and continued to be built until the 14th century, spanning an area of 722 hectares (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of their political power. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high and which were constructed without mortar. Eventually the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.
The earliest known written mention of the ruins was in 1531 by Vicente Pegado, Captain of the Portuguese garrison of Sofala, who recorded it as Symbaoe. The first visits by Europeans were in the late 19th century, with investigations of the site starting in 1871. Later, the monument caused great controversy in the archaeological world, with political pressure being put upon archaeologists by the government of Rhodesia to deny its construction by black people. Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, with the modern state being named after it. The word "Great" distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as 'zimbabwes', spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld. There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls; Great Zimbabwe is the largest.