Hit by drought, HIV/AIDS and economic meltdown, Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst humanitarian crisis since independence.
Female life expectancy 43 years
World's highest inflation
Twenty years ago the country was hailed as an African success
story and dubbed the "breadbasket" of southern Africa. Now it has one
of the lowest life expectancies in the world, and a large proportion of
the population is dependent on food aid. Farming is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, but agriculture
has been crippled by the combined effects of drought, HIV/AIDS and
controversial government land reforms. Unemployment is sky-high and galloping inflation has made
basic foodstuffs, fuel, health and school unaffordable for many.
Millions of Zimbabweans have fled to neighbouring countries.
Zimbabwe's crisis has escalated since efforts to forge a
power-sharing government - following disputed presidential elections in
March 2008 - ended in deadlock.
ALERTNET REUTERS Last reviewed: 12-11-2008