Named after Cecil Rhodes, the British empire-builder who was the most important figure in European expansion into southern Africa, the original Rhodesia was created in 1888 after Rhodes obtained mineral rights from local chiefs under questionable circumstances. Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) separated from Southern Rhodesia in 1910.
Southern Rhodesia remained a British colony and came to be known simply as Rhodesia. In 1965 it unilaterally declared itself independent under a white-dominated government. After a long, three-way civil war, Britain resumed control for a brief time and then granted independence to Rhodesia in 1980, whereupon it became Zimbabwe.