The District is located in the South Eastern border of the country (Zimbabwe) grid reference VP6911. Chimanimani District is one of the smallest in the South East of Manicaland province, boarded by Mozambique in the east, Mutare District in the north, Buhera District in the west and Chipinge District in the south. It has an area of 3 450.14 square kilometres. The population of according to 2012 census stood at 134 939 (males 64 745, females 70194) is the smallest with density of 43.48 and 32 578 households.
In size, Chimanimani
District is the smallest of the 7 Districts in Manicaland with high rugged terrain rising up to 6 000m above sea level in the east to 1 600m above sea level in the Save and Odzi valleys in the western part. The district prides its self in having all the five (5) natural agro-ecological regions found in Zimbabwe. The district is 94% rural that is made up of 23 wards categorised as, Communal (18), Resettlement Area (1) Commercial (3) Peri-urban (1).
Before independence in 1980, the District was named Melsetter by colonialist in 1897.
- Hydrological System: Rainfall averages 200mm in the west to 1000 mm per annum in the east. The district is home to 6 main big perennial rivers: Wengezi and Umvumvu in the North; Nyahode, Haroni and Rusitu in the Eastern part of the District. (These rivers are slowly becoming seasonal due to change in climatic conditions). Both Orographin and Relief rainfall pattern exists.
- Climate: Temperature averages 16ºC in Natural Region 1, 20ºC in Natural Region 2 and 3 and +25ºC in Region 4 and 5.
- Landscape: High and rugged terrain in the Eastern area with an altitude of up to 6000m above sea level. Low flat terrain especially in the Save and Odzi Valleys. The District mainly consists of dolerite clays, silica clays in the High terrain to quartzite sands and aluminium in the low-lying areas.
- Natural Regions: The District has a total of 354 805 hectares (3 548.050 square killometers) distributed over five natural regions found in Zimbabwe. Natural regions are distributed as follows
- Vegetation: There are three categories:
- Low lying areas: (dry region) mixed deciduous woodland predominant of baobab and Mopani trees
- Escarpment: Savanna woodland to Montana grassland and broad-leafed evergreen forests.
- Highlands : Broad leafed Montana forests exotic trees of pine, wattle and eucalyptus trees
- Transport: The District is linked by 3 major tarred roads namely: the Mutare- Masvingo road to the Northern boundary, Wengezi – Chimanimani Road to the North East border and the Chimanimani – Chipinge Road to the South. More of the other roads network is gravelled. Roads in the Eastern part of the District are partially accessible during the rainy season as there are not all weather roads.
- Telecommunications: About 5% of telecommunication service is being provided by TelOne through landlines. The larger part of the district is covered by cellular phone network provided for by NetOne and Econet Zimbabwe and Telecel constituting over 90% district coverage.
- Water facilities: The District has lots of water in the eastern part and underground water in the west i.e. region 4 and 5. The quality of underground water in the west is variable in some areas and has high fluorine content e.g. Hotsprings and Tonhorai. However, most of the underground and surface water is suitable for irrigation and domestic use. The biggest Rivers in the Eastern part of the District are Rusitu with its tributaries being Nyahode, Mutsangazi, Chipita, Haroni then Musapa near Chikwakwa communal area.
To the West, the biggest Rivers are Save and Odzi which have major tributaries of Nyanyadzi, Umvumvumvu and Wengezi. Most springs are found in region 1. The District has a total of 48 small dry dams 95% of which are silted and one medium sized dam namely: Mhakwe. The water from Mhakwe dam is mainly used for irrigation and livestock purposes. There are a number of suitable dam sites, many which have been surveyed on major rivers but cannot be constructed due to shortage of funds.
Settlement Pattern: Average density is 31.91/km². Total population is 134 939 people (census 2012). There are a total of +26 045 households. Settlement pattern ranges from linear in the western part of the district to random in the eastern part of the district especially in communal areas. Most of the areas have well defined patterns due to a high level of land use planning in their areas. However, in the western parts settlements follow major sources of water supply and communication e.g. major rivers and roads.