Zambia, or Republic of Zambia, a landlocked country in south-central Africa. Until independence in 1964 it was known as Northern Rhodesia. Zambia is bordered by Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. Its area is 290,586 square miles (752,614 km2). Maximum dimensions are about 800 miles (1,300 km) east-west and 700 miles (1,100 km) north-south. A former British protectorate, Zambia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
|Facts in brief about Zambia|
|Official language: English.|
|Official name: Republic of Zambia.|
|Area: 290,587 mi2 (752,618 km2). Greatest distances—east-west, 900 mi (1,448 km); north-south, 700 mi (1,127 km).|
|Population: Current estimate—12,255,000; density, 42 per mi2 (16 per km2); distribution, 65 percent rural, 35 percent urban. 2000 census—9,885,591.|
|Chief products:Agriculture--cassava, corn, millet, sorghum grain, sugar cane. Fishing—perch, whitebait. Manufacturing and processing--cement, copper products, flour, wood products. Mining—copper, cobalt.|
|Flag: Zambia's flag has an orange eagle in the upper-right corner over three vertical stripes of red (for freedom), black (for the people), and orange (for mineral wealth) on a field of green (for natural resources).|
|Money:Basic unit—Zambian kwacha. One hundred ngwee equal one kwacha.|
Most of Zambia is a flat to rolling plateau, lying 3,000 to 5,000 feet (900 to 1,500 m) above sea level. Eroded uplands, called the Muchinga Mountains, cross the eastern part of the country; in places they attain elevations of more than 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Southeast of the uplands lies the Luangwa Trench, an extension of the Great Rift Valley, which is a series of trenches running through eastern Africa.
The Zambezi River and its tributaries drain all of Zambia except the northeast, which lies in the Congo Basin. On the Zambezi, along the Zimbabwe border, are Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba, a large reservoir impounded by Kariba Dam. Lake Bangweulu and parts of Lakes Mweru and Tanganyika lie in the northeastern part of the country.
The climate is tropical, tempered in most places by the elevation of the plateau. There are three distinct seasons: cool and dry (May-August), hot and dry (September-November), and warm and wet (December-April). Throughout most of Zambia temperatures average between 60° and 80° F. (16° and 27° C.) the year round. June and July are the coolest months; October is the hottest. Rain-fall varies from about 25 inches (635 mm) in the south to more than 50 inches (1,270 mm) in the north; almost all of it falls between November and May. Much of the land consists of savannas—grasslands dotted by trees and shrubs.
Zambia is primarily an agricultural country, where most of the people live by growing corn, cassava, and other subsistence crops on small family plots. Cash and export crops, such as tobacco, corn, wheat, peanuts, and cotton, are produced on both small farms and large estates. The raising of livestock, chiefly for local consumption, is also significant. Fishing is carried on in the major lakes and rivers. Lumbering, carried on in the north-central and southwest parts of the country, is of some importance.
Zambia's basic currency unit is the Zambian kwacha.
Zambia has abundant mineral resources, and mining is its chief industrial activity. The nation is a leading world producer and exporter of copper and cobalt, which are mined along its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo around Kitwe and Ndola in the so-called Copperbelt. Lead, zinc, emeralds, manganese, and coal are also produced. Hydroelectric power is well developed. Manufacturing is limited chiefly to the processing of agricultural and mineral products and the making of consumer goods. Transportation is best developed in north-south routes through Lusaka, linking the nation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe. The Tazara Railway runs from the Copperbelt to the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Arterial blacktop roads have been built in a number of areas. There is an international airport at Lusaka.
More than 98 per cent of the Zambians are black Africans who belong to Bantu groups. There are small numbers of whites (mainly of British and Dutch descent), Asians (mainly from India), and Coloreds (persons of mixed ancestry).
According to the 1990 census, Zambia had a population of 7,818,447. The population density was 27 persons per square mile (10 per km2). More than half of the people live in urban areas.
Lusaka, the capital and largest city, had a population of 982,362 in 1990. Other large urban centers include Ndola (376,311), Kitwe (338,207), Kabwe (166,519), and Chingola (162,594).
The official language of government is English. Of the numerous Bantu languages spoken, Tonga, Bemba, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, and Nyanja are the most widely used.
About 70 per cent of the people follow indigenous African beliefs, and about 20 per cent are Christians. Of the Christians, half are Roman Catholics and half are Protestants. Most Asians are either Hindus or Muslims.
Primary education is cumpulsory and begins at age seven. It lasts seven years. Secondary education lasts five. The University of Zambia is in Lusaka, and the Copperbelt University is in Kitwe. The literacy rate is about 20 per cent.
Under the constitution of 1991, Zambia is a republic. A popularly elected president (head of state) serves a five-year term. He appoints the vice president, prime minister (head of government), and cabinet members. The legislature is the National Assembly; most members are elected for five-year terms and a few are appointed by the president. The Supreme Court heads the judiciary. The House of Chiefs represents tribal authority.