The Commonwealth Youth Programme Africa Centre is based in Lusaka.
Kalusha Bwalya, born in Mufulira in 1963, was African Footballer of the
Year in 1988.
Zambia is one of seven landlocked Commonwealth countries, all of which
are in Africa.
Joined Commonwealth: 1964
Population: 14,539,000 (2013)
GDP: 2.0% p.a. 1990–2013
UN HDI: World ranking 141
Official language: English
Timezone: GMT plus 2hr
Currency: kwacha (ZK)
Area: 752,614 sq km
Capital city: Lusaka
Population density (per sq. km): 19\
Zambia is a landlocked, fertile and mineral-rich country on the Southern
African plateau. It is bordered by: (clockwise from the north) the
United Republic of Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana,
Namibia (via the Caprivi Strip), Angola and the Democratic Republic of
The country comprises ten provinces (from south to north): Southern,
Western, Lusaka, Central, Eastern, North-Western, Copperbelt, Northern,
Muchinga (whose creation was announced in October 2011) and Luapula.
There are 91,440 km of roads, 22 per cent paved, and 1,273 km of railway
(not including the Tazara Railway). Roads can be hazardous during the
rainy season. There is access to the Mozambican port of Beira (also to
Maputo) via Livingstone and the Zimbabwe railway system; to the
Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, via the Tazara Railway; and to Durban
in South Africa, also via Livingstone and the Zimbabwe railway system.
In 2003 a South African consortium was granted a 20-year licence to
manage Zambia Railways.
The western route to the sea, the Benguela Railway (through the
Democratic Republic of Congo to the Angolan port of Benguela) was closed
in 1975 due to upheavals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then
Zaire) and Angola. However, by 2007 restoration of the route was in
progress following a grant, of up to US$300 million received by Angola
from China. Since 2000, plans have been under way for a new rail route
from Lusaka to Blantyre in Malawi, giving access to the port of Nacala
There are international airports at Lusaka (26 km east of the city) and
Mfuwe (in the South Luangwa National Park), and more than 100 other
airports and airstrips throughout the country.
Zambia is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of
States, African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa,
Non-Aligned Movement, Southern African Development Community, United
Nations and World Trade Organization.
Zambia hosts the headquarters of the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa in Lusaka.
Most of Zambia is high plateau, deeply entrenched by the Zambezi river
(and its tributaries, the Kafue and Luangwa) and the Luapula river. The
Zambezi flows to the south, turning eastwards to make the border with
Zimbabwe. In the north are three great lakes: the Tanganyika, Mweru and
Bangweulu. The man-made Lake Kariba stretches along the southern border.
The Mafinga Mountains form part of a great escarpment running down the
east side of the Luangwa river valley. The country rises to a higher
plateau in the east.
Tropical, but seldom unpleasantly hot, except in the valleys. There are
three seasons: a cool dry season April–August; a hot dry season
August–November; and a wet season, which is even hotter, November–April.
Frost occurs in some areas in the cool season. Rainfall is 508–1,270 mm
The most significant environmental issues are: deforestation, soil
erosion, and desertification; health risk posed by inadequate water
treatment facilities; threat to big game populations by poaching; and
air pollution and resulting acid rain in the areas surrounding mining
and refining operations in Copperbelt Province.
Forest – mostly savannah bushveld – covers 66 per cent of the land area,
having declined at 0.3 per cent p.a. 1990–2010. The high eastern plateau
consists of open grassy plains with small trees and some marshland.
Arable land comprises five per cent of the total land area.
Zambia has a wealth of wildlife, including big mammals and numerous
species of antelopes. There are 19 national parks and 34 game management
areas, about one-third of the country’s area. South Luangwa has one of
Africa’s largest elephant populations. Kafue National Park has the
largest number of antelope species of any African park, including the
rare red lechwe, an aquatic antelope. It is also a home of the fish
eagle, Zambia’s national emblem. Decline in animal numbers has been
slowed by the government’s commitment to wildlife conservation, and the
enforcement of measures against poaching and weapon-carrying in the
conservation areas. There are 233 mammal species, of which ten are
thought to be endangered (2014).
Archaeological findings at Kabwe indicate that Zambia was inhabited
around 10,000 BCE. More complete records date from the arrival of the
Luba and Lunda peoples during the 14th to 15th century, from what are
now the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The Bemba are
descendants of the Luba and the Lozi of the Lunda. The Ngoni peoples
came north from South Africa to eastern Zambia. David Livingstone, the
British missionary and explorer, travelled through Zambia in the
mid-19th century. He was followed by British settlers in the 1880s and
1890s. Arab slave-trading flourished in the territory throughout the
19th century, until it was ended by the British in 1893.
In 1889, the British South Africa Company received a Royal Charter to
explore, develop and administer the territory. In 1924 the company ceded
administrative control of Zambia, called Northern Rhodesia, to the
British Crown and serious exploitation of the country’s main resource,
copper, began. The capital moved from Livingstone to Lusaka in 1935. The
Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, with its own
constitution, existed from 1953 to 1963.
In the mid-1950s Kenneth Kaunda founded the Zambia African National
Congress (ZANC), a breakaway from the more conservative African National
Congress (ANC), to fight for civil and voting rights for the African
population. ZANC was quickly banned by the colonial authorities, and
Kaunda arrested. During his internment, his followers evaded the ban by
remoulding the ZANC as the United National Independence Party (UNIP),
taking the name from the main platform of its programme. Kaunda became
chairman of the UNIP on his release in 1960. In turn, the UNIP was
outlawed but it had caught the popular imagination and political
demonstrations spread across the country. The UK accepted the demands
and, in January 1964, introduced a new constitution giving the country
internal self- government, and organising elections. UNIP emerged as the
majority party and proceeded towards independence; the Republic of
Zambia became independent and a member of the Commonwealth on 24 October
United National Independence Party
Within a decade of independence, economic conditions worsened. Demand
for copper was already beginning to fall and there was tumult in
Southern Africa. Landlocked Zambia was badly affected by all the major
conflicts of the period. The closure of the border with Zimbabwe, then
Rhodesia (under the sanctions programme aimed at Ian Smith’s illegal
regime), disrupted exports. Civil war broke out in Angola and, in 1975,
the Benguela railway was closed. Mozambique’s long battle against the
Renamo dissidents began shortly after its independence in 1975; rail and
oil lines were targets for attack. Sanctions against South Africa also
affected Zambia’s trade and transport. Refugees from these troubled
countries and Namibia (engaged in the independence war with South
Africa) were given sanctuary in Zambia.
The UNIP government of Kenneth Kaunda created a one-party state (lasting
from 1973 until 1991) in an unsuccessful attempt to strengthen national
unity. A coup plot in 1980 involved local business leaders and the
Governor of the Bank of Zambia. Several trade union leaders, including
Frederick Chiluba, were detained during a wave of strikes in 1981,
unions now having become the main focus of opposition to UNIP. Popular
discontent was fuelled by the effects of IMF-backed recovery programmes.
From 1986, demonstrations (sometimes violent) against food price
increases began to take a more political form, leading to demands for a
more democratic system of government.
Restoration of multiparty democracy
In July 1990, the 17-year ban on organised opposition groups was lifted.
Three days later, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) was
founded. The elections in October 1991 gave a substantial majority to
the MMD and its presidential candidate, Frederick Chiluba. However,
continuing discontent with economic conditions and the effects of severe
drought led to a new wave of strikes within a year. A breakaway group of
nine MMD MPs formed the National Party in August 1993.
In March 1994 the government appointed a commission to rewrite the
constitution and a draft new constitution was submitted to the President
in June 1995, the commission recommending that it should be approved by
a national referendum. The government argued that it should instead be
adopted by the National Assembly before the elections that were due in
November 1996. The Assembly did so in June 1996, despite international
criticism and the suspension of some aid. Among controversial government
amendments to the constitution were clauses that specified that a
President could serve a maximum of two five-year terms, thus disallowing
the candidacy of Kenneth Kaunda, former President for 27 years and
presidential candidate of the opposition UNIP. UNIP also objected to
clauses debarring any person from candidacy whose parents are not or
were not Zambian citizens (Kaunda’s parents came from Malawi).
Most of the opposition parties boycotted the November 1996 elections (UNIP
because its leader was debarred under the new constitution). There was a
landslide victory for the MMD. But because of the boycott, many leading
opposition parties did not have any seats in the National Assembly.
Turnout was 56 per cent of those registered to vote, although it is
estimated that only 50 per cent of those eligible were registered. The
MMD won 131 of the 150 Assembly seats, and Chiluba won 73 per cent of
the presidential vote. The largest opposition party was then the
National Party, with five seats.
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