|General background: The territory of Northern
Rhodesia was administered by the 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 at least two parties
filing legal petitions challenging the results. Opposition
parties currently hold a majority of seats in the National
Area comparative: Slightly
larger than Texas.
modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)
Terrain: Mostly high plateau with some hills
Ethnic groups: African 98.7%, European 1.1%,
Religions: Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu
24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%
Language: English (official), major vernaculars
- Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga,
and about 70 other indigenous languages.
Government type: Republic
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.
Economic overview: Despite progress in privatisation
and budgetary reform, Zambia's economy has a long
way to go. Privatisation of government-owned copper
mines 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. However, low mineral prices
have slowed the benefits from privatising the mines
and reduced incentives for further private investment
in the sector. In late 2000, Zambia was determined
to be eligible for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted
Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, but Zambia has not
yet finalized its Poverty Reduction Strategy paper.
Unemployment rates remain high, but GDP growth should
continue at about 4%. Inflation should remain close
Communication/Telephone system: Facilities
are aging but adequate.
Places of interest: The excellent national
parks are teeming with birds and animals, and boast
some of the finest safari camps and lodges in the
whole of Southern Africa. On top of this, the country
shares (with Zimbabwe) Victoria Falls and the Zambezi
River - two of the region's major tourist highlights.
Travel tips: Distances are long, and getting
around takes persistence, particularly once you get
off the main routes.