The City of Bulawayo. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Settlements: The city of Bulawayo

  • Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe.
  • With a male population of 303 346
  • Female – 349 991
  • Total population – 653 337 according to the 2012 census.
  • Bulawayo was built at the old capital of King Lobengula, after the Ndebele war of 1893.
  • It became a town in 1894, a municipality in 1897 and a city in 1943.
  • Bulawayo is also a nodal town linked by roads, rail and air routes.
  • A nodal town refers to buildings/settlements that are arranged around a town with divergent or convergent roads.
  • It has an International airport and the headquarters of the National Railway of Zimbabwe are located there.
  • The city is an administrative, commercial and industrial centre.
  • Its industries include tyre manufacturing, assembling for example supersonic radio and television, food processing, furniture manufacturing, garment making, brewing amongst others.
  • The town is surrounded by a rich agricultural (cattle ranching), mining and forestry hinterland, which supplies the required raw materials to the local industries.
  • It is also linked to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia by rail, making importation of raw materials and export of products easy.
  • Bulawayo’s communication links and sound industrial base has made it the host for the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
  • The country’s natural history museum is located in Bulawayo which makes it an important educational and training centre.
  • It is also an important tourism centre with several hotels and attractions such as the Matobo National Park, Khami Ruins, the Ndebele village, Ncema dams, Umzingwane dam and Chipangali wildlife orphanage (sanctuary).
  • Many industries have been relocating to other towns due to Bulawayo’s water problems.
    These problems may be solved by the maximum utilization of the Nyamandlovu aquifer, the building of the Gwai-Shangani dam and the implementation of the proposed Zambezi water project.

Structure of Bulawayo

A map of Bulawayo showing its structure

  • The structure is more or less similar to that of Harare.
  • The central business district is the commercial hub of the town.
  • The street patter in iron grid.
  • These are characterized by wide streets, as a result of the old ox wagons which need lots of space to turn around.
  • The industrial zone lies to the west and south-west of the city which is well connected by railway lines.
  • The high density and low income residential areas are located close to the industrial area but lie to the west and north-west.
  • These mainly house workers employed in both the industries and the central district.
    Examples of these residential areas are Luveve, Lobengula, Nketa, Nkulumane, Mpopoma, Njube and Entumbane.
  • The low density and high income residential areas are found to the south, east and north-east.
    Therefore, Bulawayo’s structure more or less resembles Hoyt’s sector model.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page