Vast tracts of wilderness, sensational wildlife and few other tourists, are the hallmarks of Zambia – called “The Real Africa”.
Zambia is a landlocked country of 752 617 km², about twice the size of California, just covering 2,5 % of the African continent.
Zambia borders on Tanzania in the northeast, Malawi in the east, on Mozambique in the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana in the south, Namibia in the southwest, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west.
A great plateau of 1000 to 1500 metres above sea level, cleaved by two major valleys – the Zambezi and Luangwa, dominates central Zambia.
With the many rivers and lakes Zambia has the biggest fresh water resources in southern Africa. The Zambezi is the main river, after which the country was named, and crosses the country with 1 550 km. Other important rivers are the Kafue River in the central and the Luangwa and Luapula in the east.
Bordering onto Zambia are the following big lakes: Lake Mweru (bordering onto the Democratic Republic of Congo), Lake Tanganyika, which is shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania and Lake Kariba, a man made dam on the border with Zimbabwe.
The biggest city is Lusaka, the capital, with 1,2 million inhabitants.
Actual finds prove that humans lived in Zambia at least 250 000 years ago.
In the 3rd century Bantu-speaking tribes immigrated to Zambia. They were mostly cattle breeders and crop-farmers.
In the 14th century farming communities along the Zambezi River traded Muslims from the East African coast.
Trading commodities included ivory, copper, gold and slaves in the 17th-19th centuries.
In 1851 David Livingstone arrives in the Upper Zambezi. In 1855 he discovered the Victoria Falls, which he renamed after Queen Victoria.
He died in 1873 from dysentery in the Bangweulu Wetlands.
In the early 1890 Cecil John Rhodes, who was already establishing mines and vast business empires in South Africa, under the British South African Company (BSAC) laid claim on Zambia. By 1891, Rhodes British South Africa Company had proclaimed the territories of Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia.
1902 vast deposits of copper were discovered in the area now called the Copperbelt.
In 1923 the colony was put under direct British control and in 1935 the capital was moved from Livingstone to Lusaka.
In 1958 Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia African National Congress was banned and its leaders imprisoned.
In 1960 Kaunda took control of anther party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
In 1964 Zambia gained independence, with Kenneth Kaunda as the first president.
Kaunda remained in power until 1990.
His rule was based upon “humanism” – his own mix of Marxism and traditional African values.
1991 Frederik Chiluba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy became president after full presidential and parliamentary elections.
He was succeeded by Levy Mwanawasa in 2001. President Mwanawasa passed away in August 2008. The acting president is Ruphia Banda. After general election in November 2008 Ruphia Banda was sworn in as Zambia’ s President.
Population and People:
Zambia has a population if about 11,6 million people, which is roughly 15 people per square kilometre – one of the lowest population ratios in Africa. Zambia has a population growth rate of 2%.
About half of the population is concentrated on urban areas, like Lusaka and the cities in the Copperbelt.
There are 73 officially recognised ethnic groups, (in order of size) with the Bemba, followed by the Tonga, the Nyanja, the Ngoni and the Lozi.
The official national language is English, but seven tribal languages are also recognised: Bemba, Tonga, Nyanja, Lozi, Lunda, Kaonde and Luvale.
Many different dialects are also spoken.
The minority are the Europeans, Asians and Bushmen.
50 – 60% of the population are Christians, and the rest is follows the Hinduism or are Muslim.
Traditional believes and religions are still practiced.
Zambia’s climate is tropical, with the main rainy season from October to April. In the north of the country the average rainfall is about 1 400 mm, and in the south 750 mm. The mostly comes with heavy thunderstorms.
Temperatures in the Zambezi and Luangwa Valley rise in summer to 40° C. The temperatures in the highland are more moderate.
From May to August it is cool and dry. Light frost might occur in the lower areas.
National Parks and Reserves:
Zambia boasts 19 national parks and reserves administered by the Zambia Wildlife Authority.
Many parks are very remote and after many years of bad management, many are just lines on the maps, offering no facilities at all.
However, four National Parks do accommodate healthy stocks of wildlife, and are among the best in Southern Africa, offering camps and lodges.
Lochinvar National Park is located 250 km southwest of Lusaka and has an area of 428km² covering the flood plains of the Kafue Flats.
It boast over 30 000 Kafue lechwe as well as abundant bird life.
The Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is located near Livingstone and has an area of 76 km², including the eastern section of Victoria Falls, spectacular gorge scenery and a well-stocked game area.
Lower Zambezi National Park is situated on the northern bank of the Zambezi River east of Lusaka and has an area of 4092 km². Highlights include abundant elephant, buffalo and hippo, all of which can be observed on land by canoe.
South Luangwa National Park is located in the Luangwa Valley and has an area of 9050km². It is one of Africa’s finest reserves with abundant and varied wildlife that is best on a walking safari.
Zambia’s largest park is the Kafue National Park and has an area of 22 400km², including the Busanga Plains. Diverse and abundant antelope and high predator numbers are found here.
Other parks are the North Luangwa National Park, Kasanka National Park, Sumbu National Park, Nyika Plateau National Park and Liuwa Plain National Park.
Zambia’s economy is dominated by agriculture and generates exports of tobacco, vegetables, fruit, coffee, tea and ornamental flowers. Other domestic farming products include maize, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cotton, sugar cane, cassava, cattle, goats, pigs, poultry and eggs. But the country still needs to import a lot of food and the economy is largely dependent on international aid.
Zambia’s main industry is mining, and it is the world’s forth-largest supplier of copper and the leading producer of cobalt. These two minerals generate 75% of the country’s foreign exchange.
Manufacturing industries mainly produce textiles and cement.
Zambia has a road network of about 66 000 km, but only about 6 500 km are tarred. The other roads quickly become impassable during the height of the summer rains.
There are, however, more than a hundred airports and airfields scattered across the country, some of them are international airports, offering relatively simple access to even the remotes parts of the country.
Rail is limited to 2 200 km rail. This is partially owed by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA).
Due to the many rivers and lakes transportation by ship, boat and ferry play an important role.
Generally, all visitors need a visa, except citizens of Commonwealth countries. As the immigration rules are complicated and change frequently we advise to check the latest entry requirements before travelling. Visa exceptions are made for tourist travelling on organised trips in conjunction with local operators. Check this with your travel agent.
All visitors do require valid passports and return air tickets.
Yellow fever certificates are only required if you enter Zambia from a yellow fever country.
In Zambia malaria is wide spread and do we strongly recommend travellers to take the necessary precautions.
The Kwacha is Zambia’s unit of currency. Most hotels, lodges, camps air charter companies and safari operators accept US Dollar.
What to pack:
Take light, lose-fitting clothing. Earthy tones are important for walking safaris in order to blend in with the surroundings. As it can get very cold at night in winter, warmer clothes are essential.
Other important items that you would need: hat, sunglasses, high-factor sunscreen comfortable walking shoes, binoculars, camera and enough films, torch insect repellent.
Most of the lodges and camps offer a same-day laundry.
Some books we would like to recommend:
Bradt Travel Guide to Zambia – ISBN 1 898323 99 2
- The White Impala – by Norman Carr
- Kakuli: A Story about Wild Animals by Norman Carr – 1996 ISBN 0797-0415785
- The Africa House – by Christine Lamb – ISBN 0-670-87727-1
- Africa; A Biography of the Continent by John Reader – 1997 – ISBN 0-241-13047-6
- A History of Zambia by Andrew Roberts – ISBN 0-8419-0291-7
- Tales of Zambia by Dick Hobson – ISBN 0-952-7092-5-2
- Travels and Researches in Southern Africa by David Livingstone 1857
- Pole to Pole by Michael Palin 1999 ISBN 0563551062
- A Field Guide to Zambian Birds not found in Southern Africa by Dylan Aspinwall and Carl Beel ISBN 9982-811-00-1
- African Wild Dog Survey in Zambia by Kenneth Buk
- A Guide to Common Wild Mammals of Zambia 1991 ISBN 9982-05-000-1
- A Guide to Reptiles, Amphibians and Fishes of Zambia – 1993 ISBN 9982-05-001-X