Facts about Zambia

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Giraffes in ZambiaThe 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 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. The new president launched an anticorruption investigation in 2002 to probe high-level corruption during the previous administration. In 2006-07, this task force successfully prosecuted four cases, including a landmark civil case in the UK in which former President CHILUBA and numerous others were found liable for USD 41 million. MWANAWASA was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair.

Geography of Zambia

Southern Africa, east of Angola
15 00 S, 30 00 E
total: 752,614 sq km
water: 11,890 sq km
land: 740,724 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly larger than Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,664 km
border countries: Angola 1,110 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,930 km, Malawi 837 km, Mozambique 419 km, Namibia 233 km, Tanzania 338 km, Zimbabwe 797 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)
mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Zambezi river 329 m
highest point: unnamed location in Mafinga Hills 2,301 m
Natural resources:
copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydropower
Natural hazards:
periodic drought, tropical storms (November to April)
Environment current 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
Geography - note:
landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe

Population of Zambia

11,669,534 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 46.3% (male 2,673,891/female 2,656,268)
15-64 years: 51.3% (male 2,925,910/female 2,969,324)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 117,877/female 158,740)
Median age:
16.5 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
86.84 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 40.03 years
male: 39.76 years
female: 40.31 years
Fertility rate:
5.39 children born/woman
noun: Zambian(s)
adjective: Zambian
Ethnic groups:
African 98.7%, European 1.1%, other 0.2%
Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%
English (official), major vernaculars - Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages
definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 80.6%
male: 86.8%
female: 74.8%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Zambia
former: Northern Rhodesia
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Northern, North-Western, Southern, Western
24 October 1964 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 24 October (1964)
2 August 1991
Legal system:
based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in an ad hoc constitutional council; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Rupiah BANDA; note - President BANDA was acting president since the illness and eventual death of President Levy MWANAWASA on 18 August 2008, he was then elected president on 30 October 2008 to serve out the remainder of MWANAWASA's term; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Rupiah BANDA;
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); vice president appointed by the president; note - due to the untimely death of former President Levy MWANAWASA, early elections were held to identify a replacement to serve out the remainder of his term
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (the final court of appeal; justices are appointed by the president); High Court (has unlimited jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases)


Zambia's economy has experienced modest growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-07 between 5-6% per year. Privatization of government-owned copper mines in the 1990s relieved the government from covering mammoth losses generated by the industry and greatly improved the chances for copper mining to return to profitability and 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. Zambia experienced a bumper harvest in 2007, which helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports and contain inflation. Although poverty continues to be significant problem in Zambia, its economy has strengthened, featuring single-digit inflation, a relatively stable currency, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade.

$16.1 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 22%
industry: 29%
services: 48.9%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
4.8 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 85%, industry 6%, services 9%
revenues: $1.688 billion
expenditures: $1.866 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 0.5%
hydro: 99.5%
other: 0%
copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture
corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca); cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides; coffee
copper 55%, cobalt, electricity, tobacco, flowers, cotton
Export partners:
South Africa 24.2%, Switzerland 13.7%, China 12.4%, Tanzania 6.9%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 6.6%, Zimbabwe 5.5%, Thailand 4.7%
machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer; foodstuffs, clothing
Import partners:
South Africa 53.1%, UAE 8.6%, Zimbabwe 6.9%, UK 4.1%
Zambian kwacha (ZMK)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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