Around the early 10th century, trade developed with Arab merchants on the Indian Ocean coast, helping to develop the Kingdom of Mapungubwe in the 11th century.
This Shona state further refined and expanded upon Mapungubwe's stone architecture, which survives to this day at the ruins of the kingdom's capital of Great Zimbabwe. 1450–1760, Zimbabwe gave way to the Kingdom of Mutapa.This Shona state ruled much of the area that is known as Zimbabwe today, and parts of central Mozambique.Proto-Shona-speaking societies first emerged in the middle Limpopo valley in the 9th century before moving on to the Zimbabwean highlands.The Zimbabwean plateau eventually became the centre of subsequent Shona states, beginning around the 10th century.The main archaeological site uses a unique dry stone architecture.
The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was the first in a series of sophisticated trade states developed in Zimbabwe by the time of the first European explorers from Portugal.
The Karanga-speaking Shona people live around Great Zimbabwe in the modern-day province of Masvingo.
Archaeologist Peter Garlake claims that "Zimbabwe" represents a contracted form of dzimba-hwe, which means "venerated houses" in the Zezuru dialect of Shona and usually references chiefs' houses or graves.
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It is known by many names including the Mutapa Empire, also known as Mwene Mutapa or Monomotapa as well as "Munhumutapa," and was renowned for its strategic trade routes with the Arabs and Portugal.