All About Zambia


Zambia is a landlocked Southern African country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Lusaka is the capital.The estimated 2019 population of Zambia is 18.14 million, which ranks 66th in the world.

Hunter-gatherers inhabited the area for thousands of years. Starting in the 18th century, Europeans began sporadic visits. The British gradually occupied Zambia as a protectorate of Northern Rhodesia in the late 1800s.

The protectorate gained independence in 1964 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Zambia’s name derived from the Zambezi River which flows through the country. Kenneth Kaunda of the socialist United National Independence Party governed the country as president from 1964 to 1991. Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy ruled from 1991 to 2002. Zambia’s third president was Levu Patrick Mwanawasa, who ruled from 2002 until he died in 2008. Many credit him for starting an anti-corruption campaign. Rupiah Banda took over from 2008 to 2011. Current president Michael Sata took office in September 2011.


Khoisans inhabited the area of modern Zambia until 300 AD, when advanced groups migrated to the area and displaced them. Bantu immigrants arrived in the 12th century. The Tonga people were among them and were the first to settle the area.

The Nkoya also arrived during the expansion and were followed by a larger influx in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The Nsokolo people settled the Mbala district in the early 1700s. In the 1800s, the Ngonui and Sotho peoples came from the south. By the late 1800s, most of the Zambian people were established.

The earliest European to visit the area was Francisco de Lacerda in the late 1700s. Other Europeans followed, including David Livingstone. He was the first from Europe to see the Zambezi River’s waterfalls, which he named Victoria Falls.

The British South Africa Company, led by Cecil Rhodes, obtained mineral rights in 1888 from Litunga, the Lozi king. The Ngoni king Mpezeni in the east resisted but was defeated. Rhodes asked his scout to look for minerals and during this trek major copper deposits were discovered along the Kafue River.

The area was divided into North-Eastern Rhodesia and North-Western Rhodesia and was administered separately until 1911. The area then became known as Northern Rhodesia. The BSA Company gave control of Northern Rhodesia to the British Government when the company’s charter was not renewed.

Southern Rhodesia, also administered by the BA Company, gained self-governance that year. The British Colonial Office took control of Northern Rhodesia in 1924. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, founded in 1953, which grouped together Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland (now Malawi) into a single region that was semi-autonomous. There was much unrest in Northern Rhodesia in the last years of the federation. The African National Congress (ANC) led the cause later taken up by Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP).

Elections in 1992 resulted in Africans having a majority in the legislative council. The two nationalist parties had an uneasy coalition. Resolutions were passed calling for secession of Northern Rhodesia and full self-government. In 1963, the federation ended and the next year Kaunda was elected Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia in its first and only elections.

In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia. There were major national challenges despite Zambia’s mineral wealth. Few in Zambia had the expertise to run the government or the economy. That year, there were over 70,000 British in the country. Kaunda and his government supported groups such as UNITA in Angola, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), the African National Congress (ANC), and the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). He also had close relations with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Saddam Hussein and Kaunda were also friendly.

In 1973, the border with Rhodesia was closed, but this led to transport and power supply problems. With Chinese assistance, a railway was built to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which eliminated Zambia’s dependence on rail lines to South Africa. A pipeline was also built from Zambia to Tanzania for oil transport.

Angola and Mozambique had gained independence by the late 1970s and Zimbabwe achieved it in 1980. Zambia’s problems were not solved. Refugees fled civil war in the former Portuguese colonies. The railway through Angola was essentially closed in the late 1970s. The government’s support for the ANC led to South Africa raiding ANC training camps in Zambia.

Zambia’s main export, copper, suffered worldwide price decline in the mid-1970s. Zambia met its obligations by turning to foreign lenders, but the poor copper market make servicing the debt difficult. The country’s per capita foreign debt was one of the highest in the world in the mid-1990s.

Kaunda riots accelerated in 1990 and the regime killed many protestors in response. There was a coup attempt that year. These events led the government to agree to re-institute multiparty democracy. The economy stabilized in the 2000s. There was real GDP growth, lowering interest rates, and higher trade, mostly due to higher copper prices and foreign investment.


Zambia is a presidential representative democratic republic. The president is head of state and head of government. The government holds executive power and the government and parliament hold legislative power.


There are nine provinces in Zambia. Every province is administered by a deputy minister and is subdivided into districts, which total 72. The provinces are the Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Northern, North-Western, Southern, and Western.


Zambia is landlocked in southern Africa. There is a tropical climate and mostly a high plateau with some hills. The total area is 752,614 sq. km. Two major rivers drain Zambia. The basin of the Zambezi covers three-quarters of Zambia and the Congo basin cover the remaining quarter.

A number of major rivers flow in the Zambezi basin. These are the Kabompo, Kafue, Lungwebungu, Luangwa, and the Zambezi itself. The floodplain of the Cuando River forms the southwestern border of Zambia.

The confluence of the Kafue and Luangwa with the Zambezi River are on the Zimbabwe border.

In the country’s southwest, the Zambezi drops over 100 meters over the Victoria Falls. It flows into Lake Kariba. The river’s valley is deep and wide.

Landscape of Zambia

Northern Zambia is flat and has broad plains. The Barotse Floodplain is the most notable and floods from December to June. The flooding dominates the area’s environment and the inhabitant’s lives.

The plateau in Eastern Zambia rises from 900m to 1,200m, then reaches 1,800 m in the north. The northern plateaus are part of the Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands ecoregion.

Eastern Zambia is diverse. The plateau is split by the Luangwa Valley, with hills and mountains located by the side of some sections. The area is home to the highest point in Zambia, Kongera (2.187m). In the watershed between the Congo and Zambezi basins are the Muchinga Mountains.

The Luapula River, coming from the Congro River, is part of the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It eventually enters Lake Mweru. The Kalungwishi River is the lake’s other main tributary.

The Congo basin’s other major feature is Lake Tanganyika. It receives water from the Kalambo River, which is part of the border with Tanzania. The Kalambo falls are part of this river and are the second highest uninterrupted waterfalls in Africa.


Zambia’s climate is tropical but modified by elevation. There are areas of semi-arid steppes along the Zambezi valley.

The two main seasons are the rainy from November to April and the dry from May to October. Altitude gives the country pleasant subtropical weather from May to August.


The country is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most urbanized countries. Urban unemployment are major problems, while most rural resident live on subsistence agriculture. There are 72 ethnic groups, most of whom speak Bantu languages.

90 percent of the population belongs to nine main ethnic groups which are the Bemba, Nyanja-Chewa, Tonga, Lunda, Tumbuka, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya and Lozi.

There are also some South African, British, and white Zambian resident in Lusaka and northern Zambia’s copper belt. There is also a small but economically significant Asian population.

Lusaka has a reported population of 1,700,000. Kitwe and Ndola are other large cities with 370,000 and 500,000 residents respectively.


English is the official language and is used for official business and education. The main local language is Nyanja. There are 72 languages spoken by people in Zambia.

English was chosen as a national language to help keep the country united. Any other choice would have upset the speakers of the other languages.

Due to urbanization, different urban and rural language dialects have arisen. Intertribal families typically use English as a home language.


60.5 percent of the people in Zambia live below the international poverty line.

Kaunda’s socialist policies led Zambia into poverty. Limited reforms have begun since the dictatorship ended. Improving social sector delivery systems and reducing the public sector’s size are still economic issues.

Zambia told the IMF and World Bank in 2003 that it wanted to renegotiate debt reduction criteria. An agreement was reached, but overspending on civil service wages delayed the debt forgiveness to 2005. AN austerity budget was drafted in 2004, which started a nationwide strike.

Copper output, the traditional cornerstone of the economy, has fallen due to low prices and lack of investment. The industry was privatized in 2002 and production increased. Prices on the world market have improved as well.

The government is trying to diversify the economy by promoting tourism, agriculture, hydro-power, and gemstone mining. The government has also granted licenses to prospect for other minerals.

The country has an extensive social protection program and programs to encourage economic production. These programs face challenges and many are declining. In addition to government programs, NGOs also have tried to address the country’s problems.


Zambia’s education system has basic and upper secondary levels. Tuition is generally free only to age 7. Most drop out after this time when fees must be paid.

There are limited advanced education opportunities in Zambia. There are three main universities which are the Copperbelt University, the University of Zambia, and Mulungushy University. Competition for these schools is intense and fees to attend have made the schools inaccessible for many.


The 1996 constitution officially declared the country a Christian nation, but a number of traditions are present. Common Christian denominations include Anglican, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, New Apostolic Church, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, and other. They tend to blend easily with some indigenous traditions.

Five percent of Zambia’s people are Muslims and primarily live in urban areas. A small Jewish community also exists. The Baha’i population is more than 160,000.


Approximately 1,106,400 Zambians are HIV positive, with a 12.7 percent prevalence rate among adults. The infant mortality is 66.62 per 1,000 births, with a growth rate of 2.88 percent. Life expectancy is 50.24 years for males and 53.48 years for females.


The country’s culture is mostly a mix of European and Bantu influences. Natives lived in tribes prior to independence. Due to urbanization, different groups started living together in cities and towns. This also exposed them to European influences.

Traditional ceremonies demonstrate Zambian culture. These are Kuomboka and Kathanga, Mutomboko, Ncwala, Lwiindi and Shimunenga, and Likumumbi Lyamize.

Pottery, basketry, fabrics, stools, mats, wood carvings, ivory, copper, and wire crafts are traditional art mediums. Drums are the basis of most Zambian music.

Maize is a major dietary staple and is typically eaten as a thick porridge from maize flour. Cassava is also a basis for the porridge in some areas.


Since Zambia declared independence during the 1964 Olympics, it is the only country to start the competition as one country, and end as another.

Football is the most popular sport and the national team has seen some success. Players from Zambia are found on international club teams.

Cricket, boxing, and rugby are other popular sports.

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