Civilization III: The Zulus

The Zulus

Leader: Shaka
Characteristics: Militaristic & Expansionists
Special Unit:  Impi
Aggression Level:
Favorite Government: Despotism
Shunned Government: Republic
Culture Group:  Mid Eastern
City Production Emphasis: Offensive land units
Default Color:
Alternate Color:

Zulu Cities

  • Zimbabwe
  • Ulundi
  • Bapedi
  • Hlobane
  • Isandhlwana
  • Intombe
  • Mpondo
  • Ngome
  • Swazi
  • Tugela
  • Umtata
  • Umfolozi
  • Ibabanago
  • Isipezi
  • Amatikulu
  • Zunguin

Great Leaders

  • Mpande
  • Zwelithini
  • Dingane
  • Cetshwayo


ShakaThe Zulus are expansionist and militaristic. They start the game with Warrior Code and Pottery and build Impi instead of normal spearmen. 

The Zulu are a tribe of Nguni-speaking people centered in what is now the Natal province of South Africa. They are a branch of the southern Bantu and have close ethnic, linguistic and cultural ties with the Swazi and Xhosa. Before they overwhelmed the neighboring tribes under their leader Shaka in the early 19th century to form an empire, the Zulu were only one of the many patrilineal Nguni clans in the Mtetwa empire. Traditionally grain farmers, the Zulu also kept large herds of cattle on the lightly wooded grasslands, replenishing their herds by raiding neighboring tribes. Boys in Shaka’s militaristic society were initiated at adolescence in groups called age sets. Each age set constituted a unit of the Zulu army and was stationed away from home at royal barracks under direct control of the King. Formed into regiments (Impi), these men could marry and leave service only when the king gave permission to the age set as a whole. 

On the death of the last Mtetwa emperor in 1817, Shaka (1816-28) established his clan’s dominance over their neighbors and, using a well-disciplined and efficient fighting force, conquered most of the Natal region. During the reign of Shaka’s successor, Dingane, Boer settlers, who formed an alliance with Dingane’s brother and deposed him in 1840, penetrated the Zulu empire. The empires survived, but under King Mpande (1840-72) portions of Zulu territory were occupied by the Boers and by the British, who moved into Natal in 1838 and annexed it in 1843. War broke out in 1878 when Mpande’s successor, Cetshwayo, refused to disband his Impi and to place himself under British control. Despite stiff resistance, the British defeated the poorly armed Zulu in July 1879, occupied the remainder of their country, and divided Zululand into 13 small kingdoms. Zululand was made a British crown colony in 1887 under the Native Law of Natal, and bloody Zulu rebellions were put down in 1888 and 1906. By British edict in 1894, two-thirds of the Zulu’s remaining land was confiscated, and they were confined to native reserves. The incorporation of Zululand into Natal in 1897 ended its separate existence. Under the apartheid system, a Bantu Homeland (later called a “black state”) named KwaZulu was established for the Zulu in the 1970s and was composed of discrete areas of historical Zululand. With the abolition of the apartheid system, KwaZulu in 1994 was reincorporated into Natal province. The Zulu were the single largest ethnic group in modern South Africa and now number about nine million.

Unique Unit: the Impi

ImpiWhen Shaka took control of the Zulu, the first thing he did was to reorganize the army and devise new tactics. Rather than relying on traditional methods of attacking (i.e., lobbing spears at enemies from a distance), Shaka outfitted his Impi with short-handled, long-bladed assegai spears which forced them to fight in close quarters. His tactical brilliance is also evident in the use of complex flanking formations where the strongest group of soldiers ("the chest") would engage the enemy while two columns of "horns" would circle the enemy and attack from behind. The Impi routinely traveled 50 miles per day or more, and under Shaka’s leadership, they crushed all opposition from neighboring tribes.

The Impi is an upgraded version of the spearman. It requires no resources to build, and allows the Zulus to quickly build a strong, mobile defense force.

   Attack   Defense   Move 
Standard Spearman 1 2 1
Zulu Impi 1 2 2