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The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west.

Background History

The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the [British] South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices, economic mismanagement and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule, but the subsequent vote in 1996 saw blatant harassment of opposition parties. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy Mwanawasa. Mwanawasa was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair. Upon his abrupt death in August 2008, he was succeeded by his Vice President Rupiah Banda, who subsequently won a special presidential by-election in October 2008. Michael Sata was elected President in September 2011.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Zambia
  • conventional short form: Zambia
  • former: Northern Rhodesia


  • name: Lusaka
  • population: 1,413,000
  • geographic coordinates: 15 25 S, 28 17 E
  • time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 11 November 1975 (from Portugal)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Michael Chilufya Sata (since 23 September 2011)
  • head of government: President Michael Chilufya Sata (since 23 September 2011)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 September 2011 (next to be held in 2016)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; High Court

People & Society


  • 14,309,466 (global rank: 69)
  • growth rate: 3.034% (global rank: 11)


  • noun: Zambian(s)
  • adjective: Zambian

Major Cities:

  • Lusaka (capital): 1.413 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • African 99.5% (includes Bemba, Tonga, Chewa, Lozi, Nsenga, Tumbuka, Ngoni, Lala, Kaonde, Lunda, and other African groups), other 0.5% (includes Europeans, Asians, and Americans) (2000 Census)


  • Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%


  • Bemba (official) 30.1%, Nyanja (official) 10.7%, Tonga (official) 10.6%, Lozi (official) 5.7%, Chewa 4.9%, Nsenga 3.4%, Tumbuka 2.5%, Lunda (official) 2.2%, Kaonde (official) 2%, Lala 2%, Luvale (official) 1.7%, English (official) 1.7%, other 22.5%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 52.57 years (global rank: 207)
  • male: 51.35 years
  • female: 53.83 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 64.61 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 23)
  • male: 69.26 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 59.82 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 13.5% (global rank: 6)
  • people living with AIDS: 980,000 (global rank: 11)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 80.6%
  • male: 86.8%
  • female: 74.8%


Zambia's economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-11 more than 6% per year. Privatization of government-owned copper mines in the 1990s relieved the government from covering mammoth losses generated by the industry and greatly increased copper mining output and profitability to spur economic growth. Copper output has increased steadily since 2004, due to higher copper prices and foreign investment. In 2005, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative, consisting of approximately USD 6 billion in debt relief. Poverty remains a significant problem in Zambia, despite a stronger economy. Zambia's dependency on copper makes it vulnerable to depressed commodity prices, but record high copper prices and a bumper maize crop in 2010 helped Zambia rebound quickly from the world economic slowdown that began in 2008. A high birth rate, relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, and market distorting agricultural policies have meant that Zambia's economic growth has not dramatically decreased the stubbornly high poverty rates.
Gross Domestic Product:
  • GDP (PPP): $21.93 billion (global rank: 122)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,600 (global rank: 195)
  • real growth rate: 6.7% (global rank: 27)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 21.5%, industry: 35.2%, services: 43.4%


  • currency: Zambia Kwacha (ZMK)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 4,869.9

Unemployment Rate:

  • unemployment rate: 14%

Agricultural Products:

  • corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), coffee; cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides


  • copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture

Export Commodities:

  • copper/cobalt 64%, cobalt, electricity; tobacco, flowers, cotton

Import Commodities:

  • machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer, foodstuffs, clothing



  • Southern Africa, east of Angola, south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo


  • total: 752,618 sq km (global rank: 39)
  • land: 743,398 sq km
  • water: 9,220 sq km
  • comparative: slightly larger than Texas


  • tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 6.99%
  • permanent crops: 0.04%
  • other: 92.97%

Natural Resources:

  • copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • air pollution and resulting acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining region; chemical runoff into watersheds; poaching seriously threatens rhinoceros, elephant, antelope, and large cat populations; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; lack of adequate water treatment presents human health risks

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: in 2004, Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river
  • refugees (country of origin): 42,565 (Angola); 60,874 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); 4,100 (Rwanda)
  • illicit drugs: transshipment point for moderate amounts of methaqualone, small amounts of heroin, and cocaine bound for southern Africa and possibly Europe; a poorly developed financial infrastructure coupled with a government commitment to combating money laundering make it an unattractive venue for money launderers; major consumer of cannabis

Published: Monday, September 08, 2008