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Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe: Tower in the Great Enclosure.
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Location Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe
Coordinates 20°16′S 30°56′E / 20.267°S 30.933°E / -20.267; 30.933
Type Settlement
Part of Kingdom of Zimbabwe
Area 7.22 square kilometres (1,780 acres)
Founded 11th century
Abandoned 15th century
Periods Late Iron Age
Cultures Kingdom of Zimbabwe
Site notes
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name Great Zimbabwe National Monument
Criteria Cultural: i, iii, vi
Reference 364
Inscription 1986 (10th Session)

Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe. The site is not far from the country's border with Mozambique, which is in the southeast of the African continent.

Greater Zimbabwe was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s later Iron Age. The monument first began to be built in the 11th century, and work continued until the 14th century. It covered an area of 722 hectares (1,780 acres) which might have housed up to 18,000 people. It was a royal city for the Zimbabwean monarch. 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 Kingdom of Zimbabwe included the River Zambezi in the north, the Transvaal in the south and Botswana in the east. The people who lived at Great Zimbabwe controlled trade between the coast and inland Africa. The modern country of Zimbabwe is named after it.

Archaeologists have found goods from as far as China that were used by the people. This shows they bought and sold things over great distances. The city had stopped growing when traders from Portugal came to southern Africa 500 years ago, but nobody is sure why this happened. Europeans at first thought that Great Zimbabwe had been built by foreigners. Now we know it was built by the local people. People who have studied the site have learned much about old Africa.

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.

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