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Brief History

The Republic of Zambia was gradually claimed and occupied by the British as protectorate of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. On 24 October 1964, the protectorate gained independence with the new name of Zambia, derived from the Zambezi River which flows through the country. 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. Levy Mwanawasa remained the president until his death in August 2008 and he was succeeded by Vice President Rupiah Banda.


Zambia, capital Lusaka, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa covering an area of 752,618 square kilometers. The neighboring 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. The climate of Zambia is tropical modified by elevation. 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. There are three large natural lakes—Bangweulu, Mweru, and Tanganyika—all in the northern area. The Luangwa River and the Kafue River are tributaries of the upper Zambezi, the major waterway of the area. Zambia is rich in natural resources such as copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, and hydropower.


Zambia has a population of 12,056,923 (2010). There are approximately 72 ethnic groups where 99.5% of the population is African such as Bemba, Tonga, Chewa, Lozi, Nsenga, Tumbuka, Ngoni, Lala, Kaonde, Lunda, etc… the rest includes Europeans, Asians, and Americans. The official langiage is English, and there are other recognized regional languages such as Nyanja, Bemba, Lunda, Tonga, Lozi, Luvale, and Kaonde. The literacy rate is 80.6% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 16% (2005). Its religions are distributed among 50%-75% Christians, 24%-49% Muslims and Hindu, and 1% followers of indigenous beliefs.


The government of Zambia is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on English common law and customary law. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Knowing that the president of the country is both the chief of state and the head of government, President Rupiah Banda has been in power since 19 August 2008, following the illness and death of the former president Levy Mwanawasa. The vice president is George Kunda (since 14 November 2008). Zambia’s official currency is the Kwacha, where 4,747 kwachas are equivalent to US$1.


In 2003 Zambia was rated 163rd on the Human Development Index. It is one of the world’s poorest countries where 68% of the population lives below the poverty line (2007), and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is US$ 1,500 (2009).

The Zambian economy was in a precarious state during the 1990s. High inflation, severe drought, declining export prices, and failed economic policies all took their toll. Four of the nation's 20 banks failed and total debt stood at $7 billion in 1999. However, Zambia's economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-2008 about 6% per year due to economic reforms which included privatization of the economy, especially the main copper mining conglomerate Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) in 2000.

The Zambian economy has historically been based on the copper mining industry. Since 2004, copper output has increased steadily, due to higher copper prices and foreign investment. The government is pursuing an economic diversification programme 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 2003, exports of nonmetals increased by 25% and accounted for 38% of all export earnings, previously 35%. The Zambian government has recently been granting licenses to international resource companies to prospect for minerals such as nickel, tin, copper and uranium.

Mining and quarrying make up a large portion of the industry sector in the Zambian economy and it has provided the largest proportion of the country’s total GDP. Apart from copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer and horticulture are also notable industries in the country. Zambia agricultural products include corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), coffee; cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs and hides.

In 2005, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative, consisting of approximately US$ 6 billion in debt relief.

Zambia has an inflation rate of 13.4% (2009) and its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 949.71 (2010).


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