This article is about the African nation. For the 18th-century BC king of Isin, see Zambiya
. For the part of East Prussia, see Sambia Peninsula
), officially the Republic of Zambia
: Cisi ca Zambia
: Naha la Zambia
: Dziko la Zambia
), is a landlocked country
at the crossroads of Central
and East Africa
Its neighbours are the Democratic Republic of the Congo
to the north, Tanzania
to the north-east, Malawi
to the east, Mozambique
to the southeast, Zimbabwe
to the south, Namibia
to the southwest, and Angola
to the west. The capital city is Lusaka
, located in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka
in the south and the Copperbelt Province
to the north, the core economic hubs of the country.
On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda
became the inaugural president
. Kaunda's socialist United National Independence Party
(UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. Kaunda played a key role in regional diplomacy, cooperating closely with the United States in search of solutions to conflicts in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, and Namibia.
From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state
with the UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto "One Zambia, One Nation". Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba
of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy
in 1991, beginning a period of social-economic growth and government decentralisation
. Levy Mwanawasa
, Chiluba's chosen successor, presided over Zambia from January 2002 until his death on 19 August 2008 and is credited with campaigns to reduce corruption and increase the standard of living. After Mwanawasa's death, Rupiah Banda
presided as acting president before being elected president in 2008. Holding the office for only three years, Banda stepped down after his defeat in the 2011 elections
by Patriotic Front
party leader Michael Sata
. Sata died on 28 October 2014, making him the second Zambian president to die in office. Guy Scott
served briefly as interim president until new elections were held on 20 January 2015,
in which Edgar Lungu
was elected as the sixth president. He was re-elected in August 2016.
The territory of what is now Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia
from 1911. It was renamed Zambia at independence in 1964. The new name of Zambia was derived from the Zambezi
River (Zambezi may mean "grand river").
The fossil skull remains of Broken Hill Man
, dated between 300,000 and 125,000 years BC, further shows that the area was inhabited by early humans.
Khoisan and Batwa
Ancient (but graffitied) Rock Art in Nsalu Cave, Kasanka National Park in North-Central Zambia.
The area of modern Zambia is known to have been inhabited by the Khoisan
peoples until around AD 300, when migrating Bantu
began to settle around these areas.
It is believed the Khoisan people
groups originated in East Africa and spread southwards around 150,000 years ago. The Twa people were split into two groups. One, the Kafwe Twa
, lived around the Kafue Flats
while the other, the Lukanga Twa
, lived around the Lukanga Swamp
Many examples of ancient rock art in Zambia, like those of the Mwela Rock Paintings
, Mumbwa Caves
, and Nachikufu Cave
, are attributed to these early hunter-gatherer
groups. The Khoisan and especially the Twa formed a patron-client relationship
with farming Bantu peoples across central and southern Africa but were eventually either displaced by or absorbed into the Bantu groups.
Many of the historical events in these three regions happened simultaneously, and thus Zambia's history, like many African nation's, cannot be presented perfectly chronologically. The early history of the peoples of modern Zambia is deduced from oral records, archaeology, and written records, mostly from non-Africans.
fisherwomen in Southern Zambia. Women have and continue to play important roles in many African societies.
The Bantu people originally lived in West
and Central Africa
around what is today Cameroon
. Around 4000 to 3000 years ago they began a millennia-long expansion into much of the continent. This event has been called the Bantu Expansion
; it was one of the largest human migrations in history. The Bantu are believed to have been the first to have brought iron working
technology into large parts of Africa. The Bantu Expansion happened primarily through two routes: a western one via the Congo Basin
and an eastern one via the African Great Lakes.
First Bantu settlement
The first Bantu people to arrive in Zambia came through the eastern route via the African Great Lakes. They arrived around the first millennium C.E, and among them were the Tonga people
(also called Ba-Tonga, "Ba-" meaning "men") and the Ba-Ila
and other related groups who settled around Southern Zambia
. Ba-Tonga oral records indicate that they came from the east near the "big sea".
These first Bantu people lived in large villages. They lacked an organised unit under a chief or headman and worked as a community and help each other in times of field preparation for their crops. Villages moved around frequently as the soil became exhausted as a result of the slash-and-burn
technique of planting crops. The people also keep large herds of cattle, which formed an important part of their societies.
The first Bantu communities in Zambia were highly self-sufficient. Early European missionaries
who settled in Southern Zambia
noted the independence of these Bantu societies. One of these missionaries noted: "[If] weapons for war, hunting, and domestic purposes are needed, the [Tonga] man goes to the hills and digs until he finds the iron ore. He smelts it and with the iron thus obtained makes axes, hoes, and other useful implements. He burns wood and makes charcoal for his forge. His bellows are made from the skins of animals and the pipes are clay tile, and the anvil and hammers are also pieces of the iron he has obtained. He moulds, welds, shapes, and performs all the work of the ordinary blacksmith."
These early Bantu settlers also participated in the trade at the site Ingombe Ilede
(which translate sleeping cow in Chi-Tonga
because the fallen baobab tree appears to resembles a cow) in Southern Zambia
. At this trading site they met numerous Kalanga
traders from Great Zimbabwe
traders from the East African Swahili Coast
. Ingombe Ilede was one of the most important trading posts for rulers of Great Zimbabwe, others being the Swahili port cities like Sofala
Second Bantu settlement
The second mass settlement of Bantu people
into Zambia was of people groups that are believed to have taken the western route of the Bantu migration through the Congo Basin
. These Bantu people spent the majority of their existence in what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo
and are ancestors of the majority of modern Zambians.
Drawing of the ruler of Lunda
, Mwata Kazembe
, receiving Portuguese in the royal courtyard in the 1800s
The Bemba, along with other related groups like the Lamba
, formed integral parts of the Luba Kingdom
in Upemba part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and have a strong relation to the BaLuba people
. The area which the Luba Kingdom occupied has been inhabited by early farmers and iron workers since the 300s C.E.
Literature was well developed in the Luba Kingdom
. One renowned Luba
genesis story that articulated the distinction between two types of Luba emperors goes as follows:
, the red king, and Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe
, a prince of legendary black complexion. Nkongolo Mwamba is the drunken and cruel despot, Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe the refined and gentle prince. Nkongolo the Red is a man without manners, a man who eats in public, gets drunk, and cannot control himself, whereas [Ilunga] Mbidi Kiluwe is a man of reservation, obsessed with good manners; he does not eat in public, controls his language and his behaviour, and keeps a distance from the vices and modus vivendi of ordinary people. Nkongolo Mwamba symbolizes the embodiment of tyranny, whereas Mbidi Kiluwe remains the admired caring and compassionate kin."
A drawing of Lunda
houses by a Portuguese visitor. The size of the doorways relative to the building emphasizes the scale of the buildings.
In the same region of Southern Congo the Lunda people
were made into a satellite of the Luba empire
and adopted forms of Luba culture and governance, thus becoming the Lunda Empire
to the south. According to Lunda genesis myths, a Luba hunter named Chibinda Ilunga
, son of Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe
, introduced the Luba model of statecraft to the Lunda sometime around 1600 when he married a local Lunda princess named Lueji and was granted control of her kingdom. Most rulers who claimed descent from Luba ancestors were integrated into the Luba empire. The Lunda kings, however, remained separate and actively expanded their political and economic dominance over the region.
The Lunda, like its parent state Luba, also traded with both coasts, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. While ruler Mwaant Yaav Naweej
had established trade routes to the Atlantic coast and initiated direct contact with European traders eager for slaves
and forest products and controlling the regional copper trade
, and settlements around Lake Mweru
regulated commerce with the East African coast
The Luba-Lunda states eventually declined as a result of both Atlantic slave trade
in the west and Indian Ocean slave trade
in the east and wars with breakaway factions of the kingdoms. The Chokwe
, a group that is closely related to the Luvale
and formed a Lunda satellite state, initially suffered from the European demand for slaves, but once they broke away from the Lunda state, they themselves became notorious slave traders, exporting slaves to both coasts.
The Chokwe eventually were defeated by the other ethnic groups and the Portuguese.
This instability caused the collapse of the Luba-Lunda states and a dispersal of people into various parts of Zambia from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
. The majority of Zambians trace their ancestry to the Luba-Lunda and surrounding Central African states.
The Maravi Confederacy
In the 1200s, before the founding of the Luba-Lunda states, a group of Bantu people started migrating from the Congo basin
to Lake Mweru
then finally settled around Lake Malawi
. These migrants are believed to have been one of the inhabitants around the Upemba
area in the Democratic Republic of Congo
. By the 1400s these groups of migrants collectively called the Maravi, and most prominently among them was the Chewa people
(AChewa), who started assimilating other Bantu groups like the Tumbuka
The kalonga (ruler) of the AChewa
today descends from the kalonga of the Maravi Empire.
In 1480 the Maravi Empire
was founded by the kalonga (paramount chief of the Maravi) from the Phiri clan, one of the main clans, with the others being Banda, Mwale and Nkhoma. The Maravi Empire stretched from the Indian Ocean through what today is Mozambique
to Zambia and large parts of Malawi
. The political organization of the Maravi resembled that of the Luba and is believed to have originated from there. The primary export of the Maravi was ivory, which was transported to Swahili brokers.
Iron was also manufactured and exported. In the 1590s the Portuguese
endeavoured to take monopoly
over Maravi export trade. This attempt was met with outrage by the Maravi of Lundu, who unleashed their WaZimba armed force. The WaZimba sacked the Portuguese trade towns of Tete, Sena and various other towns.
The Maravi are also believed to have brought the traditions that would become Nyau secret society
. The Nyau form the cosmology or indigenous religion of the people of Maravi. The Nyau
society consists of ritual dance performances and masks used for the dances; this belief system spread around the region.
The Maravi declined as a result of succession disputes within the confederacy, attack by the Ngoni
and slave raids from the Yao
Mutapa Empire and Mfecane
Three young Ngoni
chiefs. The Ngoni made their way into Eastern Zambia
in South Africa. They eventually assimilated into the local ethic groups.
The Mutapa Empire
ruled territory between the Zambezi
rivers, in what is now Zambia, Zimbabwe
, from the 14th to the 17th century. By its, peak Mutapa had conquered the Dande area of the Tonga
and Tavara. The Mutapa Empire predominately engaged in the Indian Ocean
transcontinental trade with and via the WaSwahili
. The primary exported gold and ivory for silk and ceramics from Asia.
Like their contemporaries in Maravi
, Mutapa had problems with the arriving Portuguese
traders. The peak of this uneasy relationship was reached when the Portuguese attempted to influence the kingdoms internal affairs by establishing markets in the kingdom and converting the population to Christianity
. This action caused outrage by the Muslim
WaSwahili living in the capital, this chaos gave the Portuguese the excuse they were searching for to warrant an attack on the kingdom and try to control its gold mines and ivory routes. This attack failed when the Portuguese succumb to disease along the Zambezi river
In the 1600s internal disputes and civil war began the decline of Mutapa
. The weakened kingdom was finally conquered by the Portuguese and was eventually taken over by rival Shona
also had vast estates, known as Prazos, and they used slaves and ex-slaves as security guards and hunters. They trained the men in military tactics and gave them guns. These men became expert elephant hunters and were known as the Chikunda
. After the decline of the Portuguese the Chikunda
made their way to Zambia.
Inside the palace of the Litunga
, ruler of the Lozi. Due to the flooding on the Zambezi, the Litunga has two palaces one of which is on higher ground. The movement of Litunga to higher land is celebrated at the Kuomboka Ceremony
It is hypothesised by Julian Cobbing
that the presence of early Europeans slave trading
and attempts to control resources in various parts of Bantu Speaking Africa
caused the gradual militarization
of the people in the region. This can be observed with the Maravi's WaZimba warrior cast who once defeating the Portuguese remained quite militaristic afterwards.
The Portuguese presence in the region was also a major reason for the founding of the Rozvi Empire
, a breakaway state of Mutapa. The ruler of the Rozvi, Changamire Dombo
, became one of the most powerful leaders in South-Central Africa's history. Under his leadership, the Rozvi defeated the Portuguese and expelled them from their trading posts along the Zambezi river.
But perhaps the most notable instance of this increased militarization was the rise of the Zulu
under the leadership of Shaka
. Pressures from the English colonialists
in the Cape
and increased militarization of the Zulu resulted in the Mfecane
(the crushing). The Zulu expanded by assimilating the women and children of tribes they defeated, if the men of these Nguni tribes
escaped slaughter, they used the military tactics of the Zulu to attack other groups.
This caused mass displacements, wars and raids throughout Southern, Central and Eastern Africa as Nguni
tribes made their way throughout the region and is referred to as the Mfecane
. The arriving Nguni under the leadership of Zwagendaba
crossed the Zambezi river moving northwards. The Ngoni were the final blow to the already weakened Maravi Empire
. Many Nguni eventually settled around what is today Zambia, Malawi
and assimilated into neighboring tribes.
At the end of the 18th century, some of the Mbunda
migrated to Barotseland
upon the migration of among others, the Ciyengele
The Aluyi and their leader, the Litunga Mulambwa, especially valued the Mbunda for their fighting ability.
By the late 19th century, most of the various peoples of Zambia were established in their current areas.
One of the earliest recorded European to visit the area was the Portuguese
explorer Francisco de Lacerda
in the late 18th century. Lacerda led an expedition from Mozambique to the Kazembe region in Zambia (with the goal of exploring and to crossing Southern Africa from coast to coast for the first time),
and died during the expedition in 1798. The expedition was from then on led by his friend Francisco Pinto.
This territory, located between Portuguese Mozambique
and Portuguese Angola
, was claimed and explored by Portugal in that period.
Other European visitors followed in the 19th century. The most prominent of these was David Livingstone
, who had a vision of ending the slave trade
through the "3 Cs": Christianity, Commerce, and Civilisation. He was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River
in 1855, naming them the Victoria Falls
after Queen Victoria
of the United Kingdom. He described them thus: "Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight".
Locally the falls are known as "Mosi-o-Tunya"
or "thundering smoke" in the Lozi or Kololo dialect. The town of Livingstone
, near the Falls, is named after him. Highly publicised accounts of his journeys motivated a wave of European visitors, missionaries and traders after his death in 1873.
British South Africa Company
In 1923, Southern Rhodesia
), a conquered territory which was also administered by the BSA Company, became a self-governing British colony. In 1924, after negotiations, the administration of Northern Rhodesia transferred to the British Colonial Office
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
In 1953, the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
grouped together Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland
) as a single semi-autonomous region. This was undertaken despite opposition from a sizeable minority of the population, who demonstrated against it in 1960–61.
Northern Rhodesia was the center of much of the turmoil and crisis characterizing the federation in its last years. Initially, Harry Nkumbula
's African National Congress
(ANC) led the campaign, which Kenneth Kaunda
's United National Independence Party (UNIP) subsequently took up.
A two-stage election held in October and December 1962 resulted in an African majority in the legislative council and an uneasy coalition between the two African nationalist parties. The council passed resolutions calling for Northern Rhodesia's secession from the federation and demanding full internal self-government under a new constitution and a new National Assembly
based on a broader, more democratic franchise.
The federation was dissolved on 31 December 1963, and in January 1964, Kaunda won the only election for Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia. The Colonial Governor
, Sir Evelyn Hone
, was very close to Kaunda and urged him to stand for the post. Soon after, there was an uprising in the north of the country known as the Lumpa Uprising
led by Alice Lenshina
– Kaunda's first internal conflict as leader of the nation.
Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on 24 October 1964, with Kenneth Kaunda
as the first president. At independence, despite its considerable mineral wealth, Zambia faced major challenges. Domestically, there were few trained and educated Zambians capable of running the government, and the economy was largely dependent on foreign expertise. This expertise was provided in part by John Willson CMG
There were over 70,000 Europeans resident in Zambia in 1964, and they remained of disproportionate economic significance.
Kaunda's endorsement of Patriotic Front
guerrillas conducting raids into neighbouring (Southern) Rhodesia
resulted in political tension and a militarisation of the border, leading to its closure in 1973.
The Kariba hydroelectric
station on the Zambezi River provided sufficient capacity to satisfy the country's requirements for electricity, despite Rhodesian management.
The geopolitical situation during the Rhodesian Bush War
in 1965 – countries friendly to the nationalists are coloured orange.
(TAZARA – Tanzania Zambia Railways) to the Tanzanian
port of Dar es Salaam
, completed in 1975 with Chinese assistance, reduced Zambian dependence on railway lines south to South Africa and west through an increasingly troubled Portuguese Angola
. Until the completion of the railway, Zambia's major artery for imports and the critical export of copper was along the TanZam Road, running from Zambia to the port cities in Tanzania. The Tazama oil pipeline
was also built from Dar es Salaam to Ndola
In the mid-1970s, the price of copper, Zambia's principal export, suffered a severe decline worldwide. In Zambia's situation, the cost of transporting the copper great distances to the market was an additional strain. Zambia turned to foreign and international lenders for relief, but, as copper prices remained depressed, it became increasingly difficult to service its growing debt. By the mid-1990s, despite limited debt relief, Zambia's per capita foreign debt remained among the highest in the world.
In June 1990 riots against Kaunda accelerated. Many protesters were killed by the regime in breakthrough June 1990 protests.
In 1990 Kaunda survived an attempted coup
, and in 1991 he agreed to reinstate multiparty democracy, having instituted one-party rule under the Choma Commission of 1972. Following multiparty elections, Kaunda was removed from office (see below).
In the 2000s, the economy stabilised, attaining single-digit inflation in 2006–2007, real GDP growth, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade. Much of its growth is due to foreign investment in mining and to higher world copper prices. All this led to Zambia being courted enthusiastically by aid donors and saw a surge in investor confidence in the country.
Zambia National Assembly building in Lusaka
Zambia became a republic immediately upon attaining independence in October 1964. From 2011 to 2014, Zambia's president had been Michael Sata, until Sata died on 28 October 2014.
After Sata's death, Vice President Guy Scott
, a Zambian of Scottish descent, became acting President of Zambia. On 24 January 2015, it was announced that Edgar Chagwa Lungu
had won the election
to become the 6th President in a tightly contested race. He won 48.33% of the vote, a lead of 1.66% over his closest rival, Hakainde Hichilema
, with 46.67%.
9 other candidates all got less than 1% each. In August 2016 Zambian general election
president Edgar Lungu won re-election narrowly in the first round of the election. The opposition had allegations of fraud and the governing Patriotic Front
(PF) rejected the allegations made by opposition UPND party.
The Zambian Defence Force (ZDF) consists of the Zambia Army (ZA), the Zambia Air Force (ZAF), and the Zambian National Service (ZNS). The ZDF is designed primarily against external threats.
Zambia is divided into ten provinces
, which are further divided into 117 districts
, 156 constituencies and 1,281 wards.
- Central Province
- Eastern Province
- North-Western Province
- Northern Province
- Southern Province
- Western Province
The government is sensitive to the opposition and other criticism and has been quick to prosecute critics using the legal pretext that they had incited public disorder
. Libel laws
are used to suppress free speech and the press.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for both males and females in Zambia.
A 2010 survey revealed that only 2% of Zambians find homosexuality
to be morally acceptable.
In December 2019, it was reported that United States
Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Lewis Foote
was "horrified" by Zambia's jailing of same-sex couple Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba. After an appeal failed and the couple was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Foote asked the Zambian government to review both the case and the country's anti-homosexuality laws. Foote faced a backlash and canceled public appearances after he was threatened on social media, and was subsequently recalled after President Lungu declared him persona non grata
Zambia map of Köppen climate classification.
Zambia is a landlocked
country in southern Africa, with a tropical climate
, and consists mostly of high plateaus
with some hills and mountains, dissected by river valleys. At 752,614 km2
(290,586 sq mi) it is the 39th-largest country in the world, slightly smaller than Chile
. The country lies mostly between latitudes 8°
, and longitudes 22°
Zambia is drained by two major river basins: the Zambezi
/Kafue basin in the center, west, and south covering about three-quarters of the country; and the Congo
basin in the north covering about one-quarter of the country. A very small area in the northeast forms part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Rukwa
In the Zambezi basin, there are a number of major rivers flowing wholly or partially through Zambia: the Kabompo
, and the Zambezi itself, which flows through the country in the west and then forms its southern border with Namibia
, Botswana and Zimbabwe
. Its source is in Zambia but it diverts into Angola, and a number of its tributaries rise in Angola's central highlands. The edge of the Cuando River
floodplain (not its main channel) forms Zambia's southwestern border, and via the Chobe River
that river contributes very little water to the Zambezi because most are lost by evaporation.
Two of the Zambezi's longest and largest tributaries, the Kafue and the Luangwa, flow mainly in Zambia. Their confluences with the Zambezi are on the border with Zimbabwe at Chirundu and Luangwa town
respectively. Before its confluence, the Luangwa River forms part of Zambia's border with Mozambique
. From Luangwa town, the Zambezi leaves Zambia and flows into Mozambique, and eventually into the Mozambique Channel
The Zambezi falls about 100 metres (328 ft) over the 1.6 km (0.99 mi) wide Victoria Falls
, located in the south-west corner of the country, subsequently flowing into Lake Kariba
. The Zambezi valley, running along the southern border, is both deep and wide. From Lake Kariba going east, it is formed by grabens
and like the Luangwa, Mweru-Luapula, Mweru-wa-Ntipa
and Lake Tanganyika valleys, is a rift valley
The north of Zambia is very flat with broad plains. In the west the most notable being the Barotse Floodplain
on the Zambezi, which floods from December to June, lagging behind the annual rainy season (typically November to April). The flood
dominates the natural environment and the lives, society, and culture of the inhabitants and those of other smaller, floodplains throughout the country.
In Eastern Zambia the plateau which extends between the Zambezi and Lake Tanganyika
valleys is tilted upwards to the north, and so rises imperceptibly from about 900 m (2,953 ft) in the south to 1,200 m (3,937 ft) in the centre, reaching 1,800 m (5,906 ft) in the north near Mbala. These plateau areas of northern Zambia have been categorised by the World Wildlife Fund
as a large section of the Central Zambezian miombo woodlands ecoregion
Eastern Zambia shows great diversity. The Luangwa Valley splits the plateau in a curve north-east to south-west, extended west into the heart of the plateau by the deep valley of the Lunsemfwa River
. Hills and mountains are found by the side of some sections of the valley, notably in its north-east the Nyika Plateau (2,200 m or 7,218 ft) on the Malawi border, which extend into Zambia as the Mafinga Hills
, containing the country's highest point, Mafinga Central
(2,339 m or 7,674 ft).
The Muchinga Mountains, the watershed between the Zambezi and Congo drainage basins, run parallel to the deep valley of the Luangwa River and form a sharp backdrop to its northern edge, although they are almost everywhere below 1,700 m (5,577 ft). Their culminating peak Mumpu is at the western end and at 1,892 m (6,207 ft) is the highest point in Zambia away from the eastern border region. The border of the Congo Pedicle
was drawn around this mountain.
is the other major hydrographic
feature that belongs to the Congo basin. Its south-eastern end receives water from the Kalambo River
, which forms part of Zambia's border with Tanzania. This river has Africa's second highest uninterrupted waterfall, the Kalambo Falls
There are two main seasons, the rainy season
(November to April) corresponding to summer, and the dry season
(May/June to October/November), corresponding to winter. The dry season is subdivided into the cool dry season (May/June to August), and the hot dry season (September to October/November). The modifying influence of altitude gives the country pleasant subtropical
weather rather than tropical conditions during the cool season of May to August.
However, average monthly temperatures remain above 20 °C (68 °F) over most of the country for eight or more months of the year.
There are numerous ecosystems
in Zambia, such as forest, thicket, woodland and grassland vegetation types.
Zambia has approximately 12,505 identified species — 63% animal species, 33% plant species and 4% bacterial species and other microorganisms.
There are an estimated 3,543 species of wild flowering plants, consisting of sedges, herbaceous plants and woody plants.
provinces of the country especially have the highest diversity of flowering plants. Approximately 53% of flowering plants are rare and occur throughout the country.
An estimated 757 bird species have been seen in the country, of which 600 are either resident or Afrotropic migrants; 470 breed in the country; and 100 are non-breeding migrants. The Zambian barbet
is a species endemic to Zambia.
Roughly 490 known fish species, belonging to 24 fish families
, have been reported in Zambia, with Lake Tanganyika
having the highest number of endemic species.
As of the 2010 Zambian census
, Zambia's population was 13,092,666. Zambia is racially and ethnically diverse, with 73 distinct ethnic groups. During its occupation by the British between 1911 and 1963, the country attracted immigrants from Europe and the Indian subcontinent, the latter of whom came as indentured workers. While most Europeans left after the collapse of white minority rule, many Asians remained.
In the first census—conducted on 7 May 1911—there were a total of 1,497 Europeans; 39 Asiatics and an estimated 820,000 Africans. Black Africans were not counted in the six censuses conducted in 1911, 1921, 1931, 1946, 1951, and 1956, prior to independence. By 1956 there were 65,277 Europeans; 5,450 Asiatics; 5,450 Coloureds and an estimated 2,100,000 Africans.
In the 2010 population census, 99.2% were Black Africans and 0.8% consisted of other racial groups.
Zambia is one of the most highly urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa
with 44% of the population concentrated along the major transport corridors, while rural areas are sparsely populated. The fertility rate
was 6.2 as of 2007 (6.1 in 1996, 5.9 in 2001–02).
The onset of industrial copper mining on the Copperbelt in the late 1920s triggered rapid urbanisation. Although urbanisation
was overestimated during the colonial period, it was substantial.
Mining townships on the Copperbelt soon dwarfed existing centres of population and continued to grow rapidly following Zambian independence. Economic decline on the Copperbelt from the 1970s to the 1990s has altered patterns of urban development but the country's population remains concentrated around the railway and roads running south from the Copperbelt through Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka, Choma and Livingstone.
The population comprises approximately 73 ethnic groups,
most of which are Bantu
-speaking. Almost 90% of Zambians belong to the nine main ethnolinguistic groups: the Nyanja-Chewa
In the rural areas, ethnic groups are concentrated in particular geographic regions. Many groups are small and not well known. However, all the ethnic groups can be found in significant numbers in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. In addition to the linguistic dimension, tribal identities are relevant in Zambia.
These tribal identities are often linked to family allegiance or to traditional authorities. The tribal identities are nested within the main language groups.
Tribal and linguistic map of Zambia
Immigrants, mostly British or South African, as well as some white Zambian citizens of British
descent, live mainly in Lusaka and in the Copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are either employed in mines, financial and related activities or retired. There were 70,000 Europeans in Zambia in 1964, but many have since left the country.
Zambia has a small but economically important Asian population, most of whom are Arabs, Indians
. This minority group has a massive impact on the economy controlling the manufacturing sector. An estimated 80,000 Chinese are resident in Zambia.
In recent years, several hundred dispossessed white farmers have left Zimbabwe
at the invitation of the Zambian government, to take up farming in the Southern province.
Zambia has a minority of coloureds
of mixed race
. During colonialism, segregation
, blacks and whites in public places including schools, hospitals, and in housing. There has been an increase in interracial relationships due to Zambia's growing economy importing labor. Coloureds are not recorded on the census but are considered a minority in Zambia.
Zambia is a Christian nation according to the 1996 constitution,
but a wide variety of religious traditions exist. Traditional religious thoughts blend easily with Christian beliefs in many of the country's syncretic
churches. About three-fourths of the population is Protestant
while about 20% follow Roman Catholicism
. Christian denominations include Catholicism, Anglicanism
, New Apostolic Church
, Jehovah's Witnesses
, the Seventh-day Adventist Church
, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, and a variety of Evangelical
These grew, adjusted and prospered from the missionary settlements (Portuguese
and Catholicism in the east from Mozambique
) and Anglicanism (British influences) from the south. Except for some technical positions (e.g. physicians), Western missionary roles have been assumed by native believers. After Frederick Chiluba
(a Pentecostal Christian) became president in 1991, Pentecostal congregations expanded considerably around the country.
Zambia has one of the largest percentage of Seventh-day Adventist
per capita in the world, accounting for about 1 in 18 Zambians.
The Lutheran Church of Central Africa
has over 11,000 members in the country.
Counting only active preachers, Jehovah's Witnesses in Zambia have over 204,000 adherents
with over 930,000 attending their annual observance of Christ's death in 2018. These have been preaching there since 1911.
One in 11 Zambians is a member of the New Apostolic Church.
With membership above 1,200,000 the Zambia district of the church is the third-largest after Congo East and East Africa (Nairobi).
Followers of the Baháʼí Faith
in Zambia number over 160,000,
or 1.5% of the population. The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation run by the Baháʼí community is particularly active in areas such as literacy and primary health care. Approximately 1% of the population is Muslim
, mostly living in urban areas.
There are about 500 people who belong to the Ahmadiyya
There is also a small Jewish community, composed mostly of Ashkenazis
The exact number of Zambian languages is not known although many texts claim that Zambia has 73 languages or 73 languages and dialects. The figure 73 languages is probably due to a non-distinction between language and dialect using the criterion of mutual intelligibility. If this criterion was used, the number of Zambian languages would probably be about 20 or 30 only.
Widely spoken languages Bemba - 33.5 Nyanja - 14.8 Tonga - 11.4 Lozi - 5.5 Chewa - 4.5 other - 30.3
Density map of dominant regional languages
Urbanisation has had a dramatic effect on some of the indigenous languages, including the assimilation of words from other languages. Urban dwellers sometimes differentiate between urban and rural dialects of the same language by prefixing the rural languages with 'deep'.
Most will thus speak Bemba and Nyanja in the Copperbelt; Nyanja is dominantly spoken in Lusaka and Eastern Zambia. English is used in official communications and is the language of choice at home among – now common – interethnic families. This evolution of languages has led to Zambian slang
heard throughout Lusaka and other major cities. The majority of Zambians usually speak more than one language, the official language, English, and the most spoken language in the town or area they live in. Portuguese has been introduced as a second language into the school curriculum due to the presence of a large Portuguese-speaking Angolan community.
French is commonly studied in private schools, while some secondary schools have it as an optional subject. A German course has been introduced at the University of Zambia
The right to equal and adequate education for all is enshrined within the Zambian constitution.
The Education Act of 2011 regulates equal and quality education.
The Ministry of General Education
effectively oversees the provision of quality education through policy and regulation of the education curriculum.
The government's annual expenditure on education has increased over the years, increasing from 16.1% in 2006 to 20.2% in 2015.
Zambia is experiencing a generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic
, with a national HIV prevalence rate
of 12.40% among adults.
The maternal mortality rate was 398 per 100,000 live births in 2014, compared to 591 in 2007. Over the same period, the under-5 mortality rate dropped to 75 from 119 per 1,000 live births. The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS for adults aged 15–49 decreased to 13 per cent in 2013/14, from 16 per cent in 2001/02.
Presently, Zambia averages between $7.5 billion and $8 billion of exports annually.
It totalled $9.1 billion worth of exports in 2018
About 60.5% of Zambians live below the recognised national poverty line,
with rural poverty rates standing at about 77.9%
and urban rates at about 27.5%.
Unemployment and underemployment in urban areas are serious problems. Most rural Zambians are subsistence farmers
Zambia ranked 117th out of 128 countries on the 2007 Global Competitiveness Index
, which looks at factors that affect economic growth.
Social indicators continue to decline, particularly in measurements of life expectancy at birth (about 40.9 years) and maternal mortality (830 per 100,000 pregnancies).
Zambia fell into poverty after international copper prices declined in the 1970s. The socialist regime made up for falling revenue with several abortive attempts at International Monetary Fundstructural adjustment
programs (SAPs). The policy of not trading through the main supply route and line of rail to the sea – the territory was known as Rhodesia (from 1965 to 1979), and now known as Zimbabwe – cost the economy greatly. After the Kaunda regime, (from 1991) successive governments began limited reforms. The economy stagnated until the late 1990s. In 2007 Zambia recorded its ninth consecutive year of economic growth. Inflation was 8.9%, down from 30% in 2000.
Zambia Export Treemap (2014)
Zambia is still dealing with economic reform issues such as the size of the public sector
, and improving Zambia's social sector delivery systems.
Economic regulations and red tape
are extensive, and corruption is widespread. The bureaucratic procedures surrounding the process of obtaining licences encourages the widespread use of facilitation payments.
Zambia's total foreign debt exceeded $6 billion when the country qualified for Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative
(HIPC) debt relief in 2000, contingent upon meeting certain performance criteria
. Initially, Zambia hoped to reach the HIPC completion point, and benefit from substantial debt forgiveness, in late 2003.
GDP per capita (current), compared to neighbouring countries (world average = 100)
In January 2003, the Zambian government informed the International Monetary Fund and World Bank
that it wished to renegotiate some of the agreed performance criteria calling for privatisation of the Zambia National Commercial Bank and the national telephone and electricity utilities. Although agreements were reached on these issues, subsequent overspending on civil service wages delayed Zambia's final HIPC debt forgiveness from late 2003 to early 2005, at the earliest. In an effort to reach HIPC completion in 2004, the government drafted an austerity budget for 2004, freezing civil service salaries and increasing the number of taxes. The tax hike and public sector wage freeze prohibited salary increases and new hires. This sparked a nationwide strike in February 2004.
The Zambian government is pursuing an economic diversification program to reduce the economy's reliance on the copper industry. This initiative seeks to exploit other components of Zambia's rich resource base by promoting agriculture, tourism, gemstone mining, and hydro-power. In July 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and Zambia's President Edgar Lungu signed 12 agreements in capital Lusaka on areas ranging from trade and investment to tourism and diplomacy.
The Zambian economy has historically been based on the copper mining
industry. The output of copper had fallen to a low of 228,000 metric tons in 1998 after a 30-year decline in output due to lack of investment, low copper prices, and uncertainty over privatisation. In 2002, following the privatisation of the industry, copper production rebounded to 337,000 metric tons. Improvements in the world copper market have magnified the effect of this volume increase on revenues and foreign exchange earnings.
The major Nkana open copper mine, Kitwe
In 2003, exports of nonmetals
increased by 25% and accounted for 38% of all export earnings, previously 35%. The Zambian government has recently[when?]
been granting licenses to international resource companies to prospect for minerals such as nickel, tin, copper, and uranium.
The government of Zambia hopes that nickel will take over from copper as the country's top metallic export.
In 2009, Zambia was badly hit by the world economic crisis
Agriculture plays a very important part in Zambia's economy providing many more jobs than the mining industry. A small number of white Zimbabwean farmers
were welcomed into Zambia after their expulsion by Robert Mugabe, whose numbers had reached roughly 150 to 300 people as of 2004.
They farm a variety of crops including tobacco, wheat, and chili peppers on an estimated 150 farms. The skills they brought, combined with general economic liberalisation under the late Zambian presidentLevy Mwanawasa
, has been credited with stimulating an agricultural boom in Zambia. In 2004, for the first time in 26 years, Zambia exported more corn than it imported.
In December 2019, the Zambian government unanimously decided to legalize cannabis for medicinal and export purposes only.
Zambia has some of nature's best wildlife and game reserves affording the country with abundant tourism potential. The North Luangwa
, South Luangwa
National Parks have one of the most prolific animal populations in Africa. The Victoria Falls in the Southern part of the country is a major tourist attraction.
With 73 ethnic groups, there is also a myriad of traditional ceremonies that take place every year.
In 2009, Zambia generated 10.3 TWh
of electricity and has been rated high in use of both Solar power
However, early 2015, Zambia began experiencing a serious energy shortage due to the poor 2014/2015 rain season, which resulted in low water levels at the Kariba dam and other major dams.
In September 2019, African Green Resources (AGR) announced that it would invest $150 million in 50 megawatt (MW) solar farm, along with irrigation dam and expanding the existing grain silo capacity by 80,000 tonnes.
Prior to the establishment of modern Zambia, the inhabitants lived in independent tribes, each with its own way of life. One of the results of the colonial era was the growth of urbanisation. Different ethnic groups started living together in towns and cities, influencing each other's way of life. They also started adopting aspects of global or universal culture, more especially on dressing and mannerism.
Much of the original cultures of Zambia have largely survived in rural areas with some outside influence such as Christianity being widely practiced. Cultures that are specific to certain ethnic groups within Zambia are known as 'Zambian cultures' while those life styles that are common across ethnic groups are labelled 'Zambian culture' because they are practiced by almost every Zambian.
In the urban setting, there is a continuous integration and evolution of these cultures to produce what is called "Zambian culture".
sculpture, 19th century.
Zambia practices several ceremonies and rituals ranging from nationally recognised traditional ceremonies to unrecognised yet important ceremonies. Much of the ceremonies and rituals are performed on special occasions celebrating or land marking achievements, anniversary, passage of time, coronation and presidential, atonement and purification, graduation, dedication, oaths of allegiance, initiation, marriage, funeral, birth ceremonies and others.
Like most African countries, Zambia practices both disclosed and undisclosed ceremonies and rituals. Among the disclosed ceremonies and rituals include calendrical or seasonal, contingent, affliction, divination, initiation and regular or daily ceremonies.
Undisclosed ceremonies include those practiced secrete societies such as spiritual groups such as (Nyau and Makishi dancers), traditional marriage counsellors such as alangizi women.
As of December 2016, Zambia had 77 calendrical or seasonal traditional ceremonies recognized by government and this number will increase in the near future.
These calendrical ceremonies that takes place once per year include Nc’wala, Kulonga, Kuoboka, Malaila, Nsengele, Chibwela kumushi, Dantho, Ntongo, Makundu, Lwiindi, Chuungu, and Lyenya. These known as Zambian traditional ceremonies
. Some of the more prominent are: Kuomboka
(Western Province), Mutomboko
(Luapula Province), Kulamba
(Eastern Province), Lwiindi
(Southern Province), Lunda Lubanza
(North Western), Likumbi Lyamize
(North Western), Mbunda Lukwakwa
(North Western Province), Chibwela Kumushi
(Central Province), Vinkhakanimba
(Muchinga Province), Ukusefya Pa Ng'wena
Popular traditional arts are mainly in pottery, basketry (such as Tonga baskets
), stools, fabrics, mats, wooden carvings, ivory carvings, wire craft, and copper crafts. Most Zambian traditional music
is based on drums (and other percussion instruments) with a lot of singing and dancing. In the urban areas, foreign genres of music are popular, in particular Congolese rumba
, African-American music and Jamaican reggae. Several psychedelic rock artists emerged in the 1970s to create a genre known as Zam-rock
, including WITCH, Musi-O-Tunya, Rikki Ililonga, Amanaz, the Peace, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Blackfoot, and the Ngozi Family.
Sports and Games
Sports and games are common social aspects of the Zambian culture(s) that brings people together for learning, development of skills, fun and joyous moments.
Sports and games in Zambia include but not limited to football, athletics, netball, volleyball and indigenous games such as nsolo, chiyenga, waida, hide and seek, walyako, and sojo.
These are some of the indigenous games that support socialisation. All these sports and games are part of the Zambian culture(s). The fact that the games are played by more than one person makes them social and edutainment events.
The history of some of these games is as old as Zambians themselves. However, Zambia started taking part in popular global sports and games mainly in 1964 summer olympics.
Zambia declared its independence on the day of the closing ceremony of the 1964 Summer Olympics
, thereby becoming the first country ever to have entered an Olympic game as one country, and leave it as another. In 2016, Zambia participated for the thirteenth time in the Olympic games. Two medals were won. The medals were won successively in boxing and on the track. In 1984 Keith Mwila won a bronze medal in the light flyweight. In 1996 Samuel Matete won a silver medal in the 400-metre hurdles. Zambia has never participated in the Winter Olympics.
is the most popular sport in Zambia, and the Zambia national football team
has had its triumphant moments in football history. At the Seoul Olympics
in 1988, the national team defeated the Italian national team
with a score of 4–0. Kalusha Bwalya
, Zambia's most celebrated football player, and one of Africa's greatest football players in history scored a hat trick in that match. However, to this day, many pundits say the greatest team Zambia has ever assembled was the one that perished on 28 April 1993 in a plane crash
at Libreville, Gabon
. Despite this, in 1996, Zambia was ranked 15th on the official FIFA World Football Team rankings, the highest attained by any southern African team. In 2012, Zambia won the African Cup of Nations
for the first time after losing in the final twice. They beat Côte d'Ivoire 8–7 in a penalty shoot-out in the final, which was played in Libreville, just a few kilometers away from the plane crash 19 years previously.
In 2011, Zambia was due to host the tenth All-Africa Games
, for which three stadiums were to be built in Lusaka
, and Livingstone
The Lusaka stadium would have a capacity of 70,000 spectators while the other two stadiums would hold 50,000 people each. The government was encouraging the private sector to get involved in the construction of the sports facilities because of a shortage of public funds for the project. Zambia later withdrew its bid to host the 2011 All-Africa Games, citing a lack of funds. Hence, Mozambique took Zambia's place as host.
Music and dance
Zambia's culture has been an integral part of their development post-independence such as the uprising of cultural villages and private museums. The music which introduced dance is part of their cultural expression and it embodies the beauty and spectacle of life in Zambia, from the intricacies of the talking drums to the Kamangu
drum used to announce the beginning of Malaila
traditional ceremony. Dance as a practice serves as a unifying factor bringing the people together as one.
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