Zambia map

Zambia flag
Flag description: green with a panel of three vertical bands of red (hoist side), black, and orange below a soaring orange eagle, on the outer edge of the flag.

Location: Southern Africa, east of Angola.

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 30 00 E.

Climate: tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April).

Independence: 24 October 1964 (from UK).

Nationality: Zambian(s).

Capital City: Lusaka.

Population: 9,582,418.

Head of State: President Frederick CHILUBA.

Area: 752,614 sq km.

Type of Government: republic.

Currency: 1 Zambian kwacha (ZK) = 100 ngwee.

Major peoples: African 98.7%, European 1.1%, other 0.2%.

Religion: Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%.

Official Language: English.

Principal Languages: English, major vernaculars - Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages.

Major Exports: copper, cobalt, electricity, tobacco.

History: In 1851, David Livingstone crossed the Zambezi River from the south and spent the next 20 years exploring what is now Zambia. In the late 19th century the British South Africa Company began making treaties with the local chiefs in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia.

Following the 1924 British administrative takeover of the region and the discovery of copper in the late 1920s, many Europeans immigrated to the area.

In 1953, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and Nyasaland (now Malawi) were brought together by the British into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This federation lasted until 1962, when Nyasaland pulled out, followed by Northern Rhodesia in 1963. Independence for Zambia followed on Oct. 24, 1964.

Relations with Southern Rhodesia became strained after the 1965 unilateral declaration of independence by the white minority government, and Zambia's flow of goods through Rhodesia was interrupted.  Falling copper prices, a huge foreign debt, and neglect of the agricultural sector meant that Zambia's economic problems did not end when Rhodesia gained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.

Kenneth D. KAUNDA, who had served as president since independence, was praised abroad for his anti-apartheid stance. His popularity at home, however, declined with the standard of living.  

Economic austerity measures imposed at the insistence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led to riots in 1986 and 1990.

Kuanda legalized multiple political parties in December 1990, and multiparty elections--the first in nearly 20 years--were held in 1991.

Kaunda was resoundingly defeated by Frederick Chiluba, who became president on Nov. 2, 1991. Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy captured 124 of 150 legislative seats.