Zambia

The Republic of Zambia is located in Southern Africa, east of Angola and south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital is Lusaka, located near the Zimbabwe border, and has a population of about 1.413 million. A CIA 2012 survey found that this country is home to 14,309,466 Zambians, with a population growth rate of 3.034%. The most spoken language is Bemba, with 30.1% of the population, then Nyanja and Tonga, with about 10% of the population speaking each, and a multitude of other languages with under 10% of the population speaking each, including Lozi, Chewa, Nsenga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Kaonde, lala, Luvale, and English. Christianity is the most popular faith in Zambia, as 50-75% of the population are estimated to practice it. Muslim and Hinduism hold about 24-49% of the population, and indigenous beliefs hold 1%. The current GDP of Zambia, with purchasing power parity accounted for, is $21.93 billion, which puts it at 122nd in the world. Their GDP per capita is $1,600, which is 197th in the world. Unfortunately this puts 64% of the population below the poverty line.

The Republic of Zambia, formerly Northern Rhodesia, was ruled by the British South Africa Company from 1891-1923, when it was formerly taken over by the United Kingdom. Northern Rhodesia was renamed Zambia when it achieved a peaceful independence in 1964. During this period, and for the next three decades, Kenneth Kaunda led the country with single-party socialism, with his political party, the United National Independence Party, in charge. He ruled from this governmental system until 1991, when a multi-party system was introduced through constitutional changes. Michael Sata is the current President of Zambia, and was elected in September 2011, following the three year rule of President Rupiah Banda.

Zambia has, in the past, relied heavily on mining. It was the discovery of copper mines in the late 1800s that brought an influx of immigrants there in the first place, and attracted the attention of colonial power Britain. Zambia is now the continent’s biggest copper producer and copper, along with cobalt, account for 64% of the country’s exports. Electricity, tobacco, flowers, and cotton make up the rest of the exports. In a similar trend, the country’s largest industry is copper mining and processing, although construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, and horticulture are also major industries. The country’s main agricultural products are corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava, and coffee. Despite the seemingly successful and large copper market, crashes in copper prices have destroyed Zambia‘s economy in the past as they are so dependent upon this singular market. However in the last decade, the government privatized their copper mines and copper prices have increased, which have helped to stabilize the economy. Unfortunately, despite this economic growth, Zambia still has high poverty rates (64% of the population under the poverty line), and this is due to a multitude of factors including a high birth rate, high HIV/AIDs rates, and poor agricultural policies.

Similar to most developing countries, Zambia is facing a number of current environmental problems. Many of these problems are due to the high dependence on the mining industry, such as air pollution and acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining regions, as well as chemical runoff into watersheds. However, some environmental problems are similar to many countries in the region, especially those of poaching that is threatening rhinoceros, elephant, antelope, and large cat populations, deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, and a lack of adequate water treatment that presents human health risks. These environmental problems do not just pose threats to the natural beauty of the landscapes, but also to development and human health. These problems could be resolved with a renewed attention to sustainable development and the integration of conservation and environmental awareness with rural development strategies and health initiatives. Other obstacles to development include the fact that Zambia is noted as a transshipment point for drugs between Europe and Southern Africa and has a poorly development financial infrastructure.

The Zambian Flag. The green base represents the country’s vegetation and natural wealth, and the red stripe represents their struggle for independence. The black stripe represents the people of Zambia, and the orange stripe stands for the nation’s mineral wealth, most notably copper. The eagle stands for freedom, and is also pictured in the country’s coat of arms.

Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist sites in Zambia. Pictured is the Zambezi River tumbling down the Falls.

Traditional Zambian dancer performing in Lusaka

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