Zambia profile - Timeline

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section Africa

A chronology of key events:

12th Century - Shona people arrive in the area, later establishing the empire of the Mwene Mutapa, which includes southern Zambia.

16th Century - Arrival of peoples from Luba and Lunda empires of Zaire to set up small kingdoms.

Late 18th Century - Portuguese explorers visit.

19th Century - Instability generated by migration as well as slave-trading by Portuguese and Arabs.

1851 - British missionary David Livingstone visits.

Copper discovered

1889 - Britain establishes control over Northern Rhodesia, administering the area using a system of indirect rule which leaves power in the hands of local rulers.

Late 1920s - Discovery of copper, which later encourages an influx of European technicians and administrators.

1953 - Creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, comprising Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi).

1960 - UNIP (United National Independence Party) formed by Kenneth Kaunda to campaign for independence and dissolution of federation dominated by white-ruled Southern Rhodesia.

1963 - Federation dissolved.

1964 - Independence, with Kaunda as president.

Late 1960s-1970s - Key enterprises nationalised. Private land nationalised in an unsuccessful agricultural improvement programme.

1972 - Zambia becomes a one-party state, with UNIP as the only legal party.

Help for rebels

1975 - Tan-Zam railway opened, providing a link between the Copperbelt to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, reducing Zambian dependence on Rhodesia and South Africa for its exports.

1976 - Zambia declares support for the independence struggle in Rhodesia. Zambian help proves crucial to the transition of Rhodesia to an independent Zimbabwe.

1990 - Food riots.

1991 - Multi-party constitution adopted. Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) wins elections and its leader, Frederick Chiluba, becomes president.

1996 - Change to constitution effectively barring Kaunda from future elections. Chiluba re-elected.

1997 - Attempted coup.

1999 - A high court sentences 59 soldiers to death after they are found guilty of treason for the failed coup attempt in 1997.

2000 May - Fighting between Angolan forces and UNITA rebels spills over into Zambian territory.

2000 July - Environment Minister Ben Mwila expelled from the MMD and dropped from the cabinet after announcing his intention to run for president in 2001.

2000 December - UN officials estimate that up to 60,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo move to Zambia in less than a week.

Chiluba trouble

2001 May - Setback for governing Movement for Multi-party Democracy as senior members hive off to create Forum for Democracy and Development. They're opposed to Chiluba's bid for a third term in office.

2001 July - Paul Tembo, former campaign manager for Chiluba who joined the opposition, is murdered shortly before he is due to testify against three ministers in a high-level corruption case.

2001 July - Zambia appeals for aid to feed some 2 million people after poor harvests caused by floods and drought.

2001 July - Final summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), launch of the African Union.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Levy Mwanawasa (l) succeeded Frederick Chiluba as president

2002 January - Levy Mwanawasa is sworn in as president amid opposition protests over alleged fraud in December's presidential elections.

2002 July - Parliament votes to remove ex-president Frederick Chiluba's immunity from prosecution.

2002 October - Government says it will not accept genetically modified (GM) maize to help alleviate the severe food shortages facing three million people.

2003 February onwards - Former president Frederick Chiluba is arrested and charged with corruption. Subsequent long-running trials are dogged by adjournments and procedural problems.

2003 December - Supreme Court confirms death sentences on 44 soldiers for their role in 1997's failed coup; sentences are later commuted by President Mwanawasa.

2004 September - Many charges of corruption against former president Frederick Chiluba are dropped, but within hours he is re-arrested on six new charges.

2005 February - Supreme Court rejects opposition challenge to President Mwanawasa's 2001 election victory, but says ballot had flaws.

Debt relief

2005 April - World Bank approves $3.8 billion debt relief package which will write off more than 50% of Zambia's debt.

Around 50 workers killed in explosion at Chinese-owned explosives factory.

2005 November - President Mwanawasa declares a national disaster and appeals for food aid. He says more than a million Zambians face food shortages owing to drought.

2006 April - President Mwanawasa suffers a minor stroke. He resumes "light duties" after some weeks and later declares himself fit to run for re-election towards the end of the year.

2006 September - President Mwanawasa wins a second term.

2006 October - President announces discovery of oil in the west.

2007 January - Government launches economic recovery plan which envisages encouraging foreign investment.

2007 February - Chinese President Hu Jintao inaugurates a huge mining investment zone at the end of a two-day visit. His itinerary is cut short due to planned protests against the alleged exploitation of local workers by Chinese firms.

2007 May - The High Court in Britain rules that former president Frederick Chiluba and four of his aides conspired to rob Zambia of about $46 million.

2008 August - President Levy Mwanawasa dies, 59, in a Paris hospital, where he was being treated for the effects of a stroke in June.

2008 November - Vice-President Rupiah Banda sworn in as president after a narrow election win over the main opposition candidate, Michael Sata, who alleged fraud.

2009 August - Ex-President Chiluba is cleared of corruption after a six-year trial. The head of the anti-corruption task force is sacked after initiating an appeal against Chiluba's acquittal.

2010 February - Zambia and China sign mining cooperation agreement and deal to set up joint economic zone.

Supreme Court dismisses application by ex-President Chiluba aimed at preventing government from applying British High Court judgment convicting him of defrauding Zambia of $46m dollars.

2010 August - Zambia, China agree to build a second hydroelectric power plant on the Kafue River.

2010 October - Chinese mine managers charged with attempted murder following a multiple shooting at a mine where workers were demonstrating against conditions.

2010 November - UN updates its Human Development Index, which suggests Zambia is now worse off than in 1970, partly due to AIDS.

2011 January - Deadly clashes between police and demonstrators agitating for secession of western Zambia, known as Barotseland.

2011 June - Former President Frederick Chiluba dies.

Change of government

2011 September - Michael Sata becomes president.

2012 August - Chinese mine manager killed during pay protest.

2013 February - The government takes over the Chinese-owned Collum Coal mine after revoking its licence because of safety lapses.

2013 March - Former president Rupiah Banda is charged with abuse of power shortly after being stripped of immunity.

2014 January - Opposition politician Frank Bwalya is charged with defamation after comparing President Sata to a potato in a radio interview.

2014 June - President Sata goes to Israeli on a ''working holiday" amid rumours about his health.

2014 October - President Sata dies.

2015 January - Edgar Lungu becomes president after winning election.

2015 March - President Lungu has surgery in South Africa. He collapsed at an event the month before.