Africa

Zambia country profile

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Zambia

Zambia, unlike most of its neighbours, has managed to avoid the war and upheaval that has marked much of Africa's post-colonial history, earning itself a reputation for political stability.

The landlocked country has experienced rapid economic growth over the last decade as Africa's second largest copper producer after the DR Congo. But its over-reliance on copper has made it vulnerable to falling commodity prices.

Zambia also has one of the world's fastest growing populations with the UN projecting that its population of 13 million will triple by 2050.

But economic growth and massive Chinese investment have failed to improve the lives of most Zambians, with two-thirds still living in poverty.

FACTS

Republic of Zambia

Capital: Lusaka

  • Population 13.8 million

  • Area 752,614 sq km (290,586 sq miles)

  • Major languages English (official), Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, Tonga

  • Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Hinduism, Islam

  • Life expectancy 49 years (men), 50 years (women)

  • Currency Kwacha

Getty Images

LEADER

President: Edgar Lungu

Image copyright Getty Images

Edgar Lungu became the sixth president of Zambia in January 2015 after winning a narrow election victory to replace former leader Michael Sata, who died in office.

A former justice and defence minister from the ruling Patriotic Front, Mr Lungu's toughest challenge has been to turn around a slowing economy hit by a slump in copper prices, the country's biggest export.

A trained lawyer, he has worked in both the state and private sectors.

Elections are due in August 2016.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The spectacular Victoria Falls are on Zambia's border with Zimbabwe

Although state-run radio and TV continue to dominate Zambia's media sector and have the widest reach, they operate alongside several private television stations, some independent newspapers and a growing number of private radio stations.

In its 2015 Freedom of Press survey, US-based Freedom House rated Zambia as "Not Free", reporting an increase in violations, including "editorial pressure, harassment, and intimidation of journalists and outlets" in the run-up to elections at the end of 2014.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Zambia's history:

1889 - Britain establishes control over Northern Rhodesia.

1960 - Independence struggle: Kenneth Kaunda launches United National Independence Party (UNIP).

1964 - Independence: Northern Rhodesia renamed Zambia, President Kaunda rules for next 27 years.

1972 - One-party state: Kaunda's UNIP becomes the only legal party until 1991.

1991 - First multi-party elections in 23 years, Frederick Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) wins.

1997 - Attempted coup. Former President Kaunda is arrested but later walks free.

2001 - President Chiluba steps down over opposition to his bid to run for an unconstitutional third term.

2001-08 - Third President Levy Mwanawasa serves two terms, dies in office.

2011-14 - Fifth President Michael Sata, dies in office.

2015 - Sixth President Edgar Lungu elected.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kenneth Kaunda led the struggle for independence. He served as president for almost 30 years before stepping aside

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