Bulawayo is the second-largest city in Zimbabwe after the capital Harare. Located in Matabeleland, colloquially the city is also known by various names, these being the 'City of Kings', 'Skies', 'Bluez', 'Bulliesberg' or 'KoNtuthu ziyathunqa' – a isiNdebele phrase for "a place that continually exudes smoke". This name arose from the city's historically large industrial base. The majority of the Bulawayo's population belongs to the Ndebele ethnic and language group.
For a long time in Zimbabwe's history Bulawayo was regarded as the industrial centre of Zimbabwe and the city served as the hub to the country's rail network with the National Railways of Zimbabwe headquartered there because of its strategic position near Botswana and South Africa. It is the nearest large city to Hwange National Park, Matobo National Park and Victoria Falls.