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What you need to know about Bulawayo

Bulawayo is the second-largest city in Zimbabwe after the capital Harare, with, as of the 2012 census, a population of 653,337. It is located in Matabeleland, 439 km (273 mi) southwest of Harare, and is now treated as a separate provincial area from Matabeleland. The capital of Matabeleland North is now Lupane, as Bulawayo is a stand-alone province.

Colloquially Bulawayo is also known by various names, these being the ‘City of Kings’, ‘Skies’, ‘Bluez’, ‘Bulliesberg’ or ‘KoNtuthu ziyathunqa’ – a isiNdebele phrase for “a place that continually exudes smoke”. This name arose from the city’s historically large industrial base. The majority of the Bulawayo’s population belongs to the Ndebele ethnic and language group.

For a long time in Zimbabwe’s history Bulawayo was regarded as the industrial centre of Zimbabwe and the city served as the hub to the country’s rail network with the National Railways of Zimbabwe headquartered there because of its strategic position near Botswana and South Africa. It is the nearest large city to Hwange National Park, Matobo National Park and Victoria Falls.

Population: 897 249 people (2016)

Language : Ndebele, English

Currency

The rand is more commonly used in Bulawayo, closer to the South African …

 

Geography

The city sits on a plain that marks the Highveld of Zimbabwe and is close to the watershed between the Zambezi and Limpopo drainage basins. The land slopes gently downwards to the north and northwest. The southern side is hillier, and the land becomes more broken in the direction of the Matobo Hills to the south.

Climate

Due to its relatively high altitude, the city has a subtropical climate despite lying within the tropics. Under the Köppen climate classification, Bulawayo features a humid subtropical climate (Cwa), though it is a drier version of the climate. The mean annual temperature is 19.16 °C (66.44 °F), similar to Pretoria at a similar altitude but almost 600 km (373 mi) farther south. As with much of southern and eastern Zimbabwe, Bulawayo is cooled by a prevailing southeasterly airflow most of the year, and experiences three broad seasons: a dry, cool winter season from May to August; a hot dry period in early summer from late August to early November; and a warm wet period in the rest of the summer, early November to April. The hottest month is October, which is usually the height of the dry season. The average maximum temperature ranges from 21 °C (70 °F) in July to 30 °C (86 °F) in October. During the rainy season, daytime maxima are around 26 °C (79 °F). Nights are always cool, ranging from 8 °C (46 °F) in July to 16 °C (61 °F) in January.

The city’s average annual rainfall is 594 mm (23 in), which supports a natural vegetation of open woodland, dominated by Combretum and Terminalia trees. Most rain falls in the December to February period, while June to August is usually rainless. Being close to the Kalahari Desert, Bulawayo is vulnerable to droughts and rainfall tends to vary sharply from one year to another. In 1978, 888 mm (35 in) of rain fell in the three months up to February (February 1944 is the wettest month on record with 368mm) while in the three months ending February 1983, only 84 mm (3 in) fell.