About Zambia

Geographical Information

Zambia RiverZambia, a landlocked country in south-central Africa, is about one-tenth larger than Texas. It is surrounded by Angola, Zaire, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. The country is mostly a plateau that rises to 8,000 ft (2,434 m) in the east.

Eroded uplands, called the Muchinga Mountains, cross the eastern part of the country where, in places, they attain elevations of more than 6,000 feet. Southeast of the uplands lies the Luangwa Trench, an extension of the Great Rift Valley.

On the Zambezi River, which forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe, is Victoria Falls, which drops over 330 feet into the ravine below. Named for Queen Victoria by the famous explorer David Livingstone, its original name was Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders). It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Zambia Lion Cubs

Zambia and Zimbabwe also share a man-made lake – Lake Kariba – which was built to generate hydro-electric power. In the north are Lake Bangeweulu, Lake Mweru and the vast Lake Tanganyika.

Zambia also boasts vast stretches of wilderness and spectacular natural formations. Grassy plains dotted with thick forest blanket much of the land.

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The early inhabitants of what is modern-day Zambia lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. With the advent of the Luanga culture, trade began to flourish. By 1500, kingdoms began to form with the Chewa in the East, the Lozi in the West, the Bemba and Lunda in the North.

In the early 19th century, Shaka, the Zulu ruler, began conquering neighboring peoples. Surrounding peoples who did not voluntarily agree to be absorbed into the growing Zulu empire had no option but to flee for survival. One of these migrations resulted in the Kololo kingdom.

In 1840, David Livingstone, a 27 year old Scottish doctor and ordained minister, sailed from Britain to the Cape, to work as a medical evangelist with the London Missionary Society.

Thirty-five years after Livingstone left Zambia, it came under British rule and in 1911 the territory was named Northern Rhodesia. By 1923, Zambia had become a British Protectorate which governed using a form of apartheid under which native Zambians were subject to racial discrimination.

After the federation of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Nyasaland (Malawi), and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was dissolved in 1963 and in 1964, Zambia became an independent republic with Kenneth Kuanda as president. Kaunda remained in office for 27 years. Kuanda’s one-party state was abolished and free elections were held in October, 1991. Frederick Chiluba, a trade unionist who had been locked up by Kaunda, became Zambia’s second president. In 2001 Chiluba’s hand picked successor, Levy Mwanawasa, was elected as President.

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Climate / Seasons

Zambia has a tropical climate, modified by the altitude of the country. There are three distinct seasons: cool and dry (May-August), hot and dry (September-November) and warm and wet (December-April). Temperatures average between 60F and 80F (16C and 27C). June and July are the coolest months. October is the hottest. Rainfall varies from about 25 inches in the south to more than 50 inches in the north, almost all of which falls between November and May.

Temperature (F) – These are the average lows and highs.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
LVI 63/90 63/86 64/88 57/84 68/84 45/77 43/77 46/82 57/91 64/93 64/88 63/88
LUA 68/90 68/88 66/90 64/90 66/88 54/86 52/84 54/86 59/95 68/104 72/99 72/91

Average Rainfall (inches). This varies according to the year and your location.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
LVI 8.46 7.28 3.94 1.77 0.20 0.12 0.04 0.12 0.16 0.79 3.94 7.48
LUA 7.68 11.30 5.55 3.58 0 0 0 0 0 1.97 4.25 4.33

LVI = Livingstone
LUA = South Luangwa

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English is the official language.

Over 70 indigenous languages are spoken, including Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, and Tonga.

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Other Resources

For more information on Zambia, visit the Zambian Tourist Board web site.

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Safaris in Zambia

Click here for safaris to Zambia.