Zambia is a land locked country, located near the sub-tropics south of the Equator, and is surrounded by eight neighboring countries, namely, Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The country has a relatively large land surface, with a total area of 752,972 km2 and lies on the Central African high Plateau with an average altitude of 1 200m above sea level. The Rift Valley formations in the eastern and southern parts of the country have produced escarpment systems and valley troughs. The most famous of the Escarpment systems is the Muchinga Escarpment. Zambia’s physical environment owes its attributes to her sub- tropical setting, whose features are characteristic of both tropical and semi-arid conditions.
The Republic of Zambia formerly Northern Rhodesia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of 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 capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country. The population is concentrated mainly around the Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt to the northwest.
The new name of Zambia was derived from the Zambezi river which flows through the country. Zambia was governed by President Kenneth Kaunda of the socialist United National Independence Party from 1964 until 1991. From 1991 to 2002, Zambia was governed by President Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy. Levy Mwanawasa was the third President of Zambia. He presided over the country from January 2002 until his death in August 2008. He is credited for having initiated a campaign to rid the country of corruption.
The official language of Zambia is English, which is used to conduct official business and is the medium of instruction in schools. The main local language, especially in Lusaka, is Nyanja. However, Bemba and Nyanja are spoken in the urban areas in addition to other indigenous languages which are commonly spoken in Zambia. Estimates of the total number of languages spoken in Zambia add up to 72, thirteen dialects are counted as languages in their own right which brings this number to 85.
Zambia is well endowed with water resources, both ground and surface water. The major perennial rivers are the Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa, Kabompo, Luapula and Chambeshi. Other sources of surface water include lakes, swamps and flood areas. The rainfall Zambia receives replenishes these water bodies. Surface water constitutes 20% of the Country’s area. Zambia has a variety of ecosystems, which give rise to a rich biodiversity in terms of wildlife, plant, bird and fish species. The Country's vegetation is classified into four major categories, namely, closed forests, open forests, termitaria and grasslands. Zambian forests cover 60% of the Country. Zambia has a flora diversity of over 3,000 species with 40% comprising shrubs and wood plants. Of these, 211 species are endemic to Zambia. The fauna diversity is estimated at 3,631 and it is distributed as follows: 2032 invertebrates, 409 fish, 67 amphibians, 150 reptiles, 733 birds, 224 mammals and 16 domesticated animals. In addition, there are about 598 species of microorganisms that have been identified to exist in Zambia. Micro-organisms are very important in the maintenance of ecosystems through nutrient cycling.
Zambia’s economic environment is characterised by heavy dependence on copper mining for the country's export earnings, government revenue, source of employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Zambia is now one of the highly indebted countries in the world. The poor performance of the economy has had negative impacts on the development of nearly all sectors and the living standards of the people have considerably declined. Zambia today, is recorded as one of the countries with the lowest GDP per capita of less than US$ 350.
Poverty is widespread and intense in Zambia. More than 70% of the households live below the poverty datum line. The poverty situation in Zambia intensifies resource overuse and its degradation. Zambia’s human population is estimated to be 10.2 million and is growing at 3.1 % per annum. The current population is expected to double in the next 23 years. The density of Zambia’s population is estimated at 6 to 10 persons per km2. However, the population density is higher in many localised areas due to immigration and urbanisation. Zambia is one of the most urbanised countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The general height of the land gives Zambia a more pleasant climate than that experienced in most tropical countries. There are three seasons; cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to November, warm and wet from December to April. Only in the Valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa is there excessive heat, particularly in October and, in the wet season, a high humidity. In the warm wet season, frequent heavy showers and thunderstorms occur, followed by spells of bright sunshine. Plants grow profusely and rivers and streams fill up almost overnight. During the cool dry season, night frosts may occur in places sheltered from the wind. The countryside dries up gradually and grass fires, fanned by high winds are a feature of this time of the year. In depressions, radiation occurs on cloudless nights. Temperatures rise high during the hot, dry season but new leaves appear on the trees before the start of the rains and new grass brightens the countryside. The main growing period of woody vegetation is between August and November.
Zambia’s existing culture is a mixture of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions of more than 70 ethnically diverse people. Most of the tribes of Zambia moved into the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. They grew in numbers and many traveled in search of establishing new kingdoms, farming land and pastures. Before the colonial period, the region now known as Zambia was the home of a number of Free states. During the colonial period, the process of industrialisation and urbanisation saw ethnically different people brought together by economic interests. This, as well as the very definite influence of western standards, generated a new culture without conscious effort of politically determined guidelines. Many of the rural inhabitants however, have retained their indigenous and traditional customs and values. After Independence in 1964, the government recognised the role culture was to play in the overall development of a new nation and began to explore the question of a National identity. Institutions have been created to protect and promote Zambia’s culture, including the National Heritage Conservation Commission. Private museums have also been founded and cultural villages established to promote the expression.
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