Zimbabwe’s total population is 12.97 million. According to the United Nations World Health Organization, the life expectancy for men was 56 years and the life expectancy for women was 60 years of age (2012). An association of doctors in Zimbabwe has made calls for President Mugabe to make moves to assist the ailing health service. The HIV infection rate in Zimbabwe was estimated to be 14% for people aged 15–49 in 2009. UNESCO reported a decline in HIV prevalence among pregnant women from 26% in 2002 to 21% in 2004.

Some 85% of Zimbabweans are Christian; 62% of the population attends religious services regularly. The largest Christian churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist and Methodist.

As in other African countries, Christianity may be mixed with enduring traditional beliefs. Ancestral worship is the most practised non-Christian religion, involving spiritual intercession; the mbira dzavadzimu, which means “voice of the ancestors”, an instrument related to many lamellophones ubiquitous throughout Africa, is central to many ceremonial proceedings. Mwari simply means “God the Creator” (musika vanhu in Shona). Around 1% of the population is Muslim.

Bantu-speaking ethnic groups make up 98% of the population. The majority people, the Shona, comprise 70%. The Ndebele are the second most populous with 20% of the population.

The Ndebele descended from Zulu migrations in the 19th century and the other tribes with which they intermarried. Up to one million Ndebele may have left the country over the last five years, mainly for South Africa. Other Bantu ethnic groups make up the third largest with 2 to 5%: these are Venda, Tonga, Shangaan, Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau, Nambya, Tswana, Xhosa and Lozi.

Minority ethnic groups include white Zimbabweans, who make up less than 1% of the total population. White Zimbabweans are mostly of British origin, but there are also Afrikaner, Greek, Portuguese, French and Dutch communities. The white population dropped from a peak of around 278,000 or 4.3% of the population in 1975 to possibly 120,000 in 1999, and was estimated to be no more than 50,000 in 2002, and possibly much less. The 2012 census lists the total white population at 28,782 (roughly 0.22% of the population), one-tenth of its 1975 estimated size. Most emigration has been to the United Kingdom (between 200,000 and 500,000 Britons are of Rhodesian or Zimbabwean origin), South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Coloureds form 0.5% of the population, and various Asian ethnic groups, mostly of Indian and Chinese origin, are also 0.5%.

According to 2012 Census report, 99.7% of the population is of African origin. Official fertility rates over the last decade were 3.6 (2002 Census), 3.8 (2006) and 3.8 (2012 Census).