Masvingo (before 1982 known as Fort Victoria) is a town in south-eastern Zimbabwe and the capital of Masvingo Province. The town is close to Great
Zimbabwe, the national monument from which the country takes its name.
The town was known as Fort Victoria until 1982, when its name was briefly changed to Nyanda. Within a few months its name was again changed to Masvingo when it was discovered that Nyanda did not translate very well between dialects. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe, and grew up around the encampment established in 1890 by the Pioneer Column en route to their eventual destination, Salisbury. The Old Fort national monument is located in the centre of town, and was erected in 1891 as one of a series of fortifications to guard the route from Salisbury to the south. The very first cricket match in Zimbabwe is said to have taken place close by in 1890.
The population was approximately 15,000 in 1970; 30,523 in 1982 and rose to 51,743 in 1992. It had a population of approximately 58,000 in 2002 and is said to have passed the 100.000 peg in 2008. Masvingo is located 292 km south of Harare. Most of the local population belongs to the Karanga Shona ethnic group. It is divided into suburbs including Mucheke, Rujeko, Rhodene, Target Kopje and Eastvale. The suburbs are divided into high-density, middle-density and low-density suburbs. Mucheke, the oldest township and Rujeko are the most populous high-density suburbs. The middle-density suburbs are Eastvale located close to Zimuto Police Camp and Target Kopje located on the southern part of town on a small hill close to Flamboyant Hotel. Rhodene is a low density suburb on the northern part of the city centre, Rhodene is the most affluent suburb in Masvingo.
The landscape in southern Zimbabwe relatively flat, interspersed with rounded granite mountains. They are known as kopjes (Dutch: little heads) and they are often quite smooth. Mopane trees dominate the savannah landscape. Occasionally, one see baobab trees. The weather is hot and dry throughout the year, except during the summer when the rains come.
The town lies near Lake Mutirikwe and is home to a golf course and a freight railway line. It lies on the Mucheke River, with Queen Victoria Gardens in the town centre and Shagashe Game Park and an Italian memorial church built during World War II nearby. It also has an airstrip.
Masvingo is situated in a drought-prone area, with average rainfall of 600 mm/a.The raw water source for the city is Lake Mutirikwe. Apart from providing water for the city of Masvingo, Lake Mutirikwe supports water supply schemes for several riparian farmers and large sugar cane irrigation schemes in the Triangle and Hippo Valley areas. The storage capacity of the lake, which was completed in 1960, is 1.4 × 109 m³.
The major soccer club in the town is Masvingo United, whose home ground is Mucheke Stadium in the suburb of Mucheke. Annually, a Miss Masvingo Province pageant is held.
The Southern Rocks, one of the five first-class cricket teams in Zimbabwe, are based in Masvingo.