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October 2006



Zambia, slightly larger than Texas in size, is located in Southern Africa. The border countries of landlocked Zambia include: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The Zambezi River forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe. The terrain varies from mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains. The climate, modified by altitude, is generally tropical with a rainy season from October to April.

Zambia's population comprises more than 70 Bantu-speaking ethnic groups. Some ethnic groups are small, and only two have enough people to constitute at least 10% of the population. Lusaka (pop. approx. 1 million), is the capital city; other cities include Kitwe, Ndola, Livingstone, and Kabwe. Most Zambians are subsistence farmers. The predominant religion is a blend of traditional beliefs and Christianity; Christianity is the official national religion.

The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the [British] South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the United Kingdom in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. The republic is a multi-party democracy with the government under the president, a unicameral National Assembly and the Supreme Court.

In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Over 70% of Zambians live in poverty and this is related to a rapid population growth and the strain of HIV/AIDS related issues, which are among the nation’s greatest challenges. Zambia is also one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most highly urbanized countries. Almost one-half of the country's 10 million people are concentrated in a few urban zones, while rural areas are underpopulated.

The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, United States Department State Background Notes, 10/2006