Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Coordinates: 15°S 30°E / 15°S 30°E / -15; 30

Republic of Zambia
"One Zambia, One Nation"
Anthem: "Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free"
Location of Zambia
and largest city
15°25′S 28°17′E / 15.417°S 28.283°E / -15.417; 28.283
Official languagesEnglish
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
Christianity (official)[2]
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic
• President
Hakainde Hichilema
Mutale Nalumango
• Speaker
Nelly Mutti
Mumba Malila
LegislatureNational Assembly
27 June 1890
28 November 1899
29 January 1900
17 August 1911
1 August 1953
24 October 1964
5 January 2016
• Total
752,617 km2 (290,587 sq mi)[3] (38th)
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
19,642,123[4] (63rd)
• Density
26.1/km2 (67.6/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
$76.33 billion[5]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
$27.03 billion[5]
• Per capita
Gini (2015)57.1[6]
HDI (2021)Decrease 0.565[7]
medium · 154th
CurrencyZambian kwacha (ZMW)
Time zoneUTC+2 (CAT)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideleft
Calling code+260
ISO 3166 codeZM

Zambia (/ˈzæmbiə, ˈzɑːm-/), officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa,[8] although it is typically referred to as being in Southern Africa at its most central point.[9] Its neighbours are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west. The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia. The nation's population of around 19.5 million is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the north, the core economic hubs of the country.

Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region was affected by the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. Following European explorers in the eighteenth century, the British colonised the region into the British protectorates of Barotseland-North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia comprising 73 tribes, towards the end of the nineteenth century. These were merged in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia. For most of the colonial period, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.[10]

On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the inaugural president. Kaunda's socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. Kaunda played a key role in regional diplomacy, cooperating closely with the United States in search of solutions to conflicts in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, and Namibia.[11] From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state with UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto "One Zambia, One Nation" coined by Kaunda. Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, beginning a period of socio-economic development and government decentralisation. Zambia has since become a multi-party state and has experienced several peaceful transitions of power.

Zambia contains abundant natural resources, including minerals, wildlife, forestry, freshwater and arable land.[12] In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia one of the world's fastest economically reformed countries.[13] The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is headquartered in Lusaka.


The territory of Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia from 1911 to 1964. It was renamed Zambia in October 1964 on its independence from British rule. The name Zambia derives from the Zambezi River (Zambezi may mean "grand river").[14]


Prehistoric era

Archaeological excavation work on the Zambezi Valley and Kalambo Falls shows a succession of human cultures. Ancient camp site tools near the Kalambo Falls have been radiocarbon dated to more than 36,000 years ago.

The fossil skull remains of Broken Hill Man (also known as Kabwe Man), dated between 300,000 and 125,000 years BC, further shows that the area was inhabited by early humans.[15] Broken Hill Man was discovered in Zambia in Kabwe District.

Khoisan and Batwa

Modern Zambia once was inhabited by the Khoisan and Batwa peoples until around AD 300, when migrating Bantu began to settle the areas.[16] It is believed the Khoisan people originated in East Africa and spread southwards around 150,000 years ago. The Twa people were split into two groups: the Kafwe Twa lived around the Kafue Flats and the Lukanga Twa who lived around the Lukanga Swamp.[17] Many examples of ancient rock art in Zambia, like the Mwela Rock Paintings, Mumbwa Caves, and Nachikufu Cave, are attributed to these early hunter-gatherers. The Khoisan and especially the Twa formed a patron-client relationship with farming Bantu peoples across central and southern Africa but were eventually either displaced by or absorbed into the Bantu groups.

The Bantu (Abantu)

The Bantu people or Abantu (meaning people) are an enormous and diverse ethnolinguistic group that constitutes the majority of people in much of eastern, southern and central Africa. Because of Zambia's location at the crossroads of Central Africa, Southern Africa, and the African Great Lakes, the history of the people that constitute modern Zambians is a history of these three regions.

Many of the historical events in these three regions happened simultaneously, and thus Zambia's history, like many African nations', cannot be presented perfectly chronologically. The early history of the peoples of modern Zambia is deduced from oral records, archaeology, and written records, mostly from non-Africans.[18]

Bantu origins

The Bantu people originally lived in West and Central Africa around what is today Cameroon and Nigeria. Around 4000 to 3000 years ago they began a millennia-long expansion into much of the continent. This event has been called the Bantu expansion; it was one of the largest human migrations in history. The Bantu are believed to have been the first to have brought iron working technology into large parts of Africa. The Bantu Expansion happened primarily through two routes: a western one via the Congo Basin and an eastern one via the African Great Lakes.[19]

First Bantu settlement

The first Bantu people to arrive in Zambia came through the eastern route via the African Great Lakes. They arrived around the first millennium A.D., and among them were the Tonga people (also called Ba-Tonga, "Ba-" meaning "men") and the Ba-Ila and Namwanga and other related groups, who settled around Southern Zambia near Zimbabwe. Ba-Tonga oral records indicate that they came from the east near the "big sea".

They were later joined by the Ba-Tumbuka who settled around Eastern Zambia and Malawi.

These first Bantu people lived in large villages. They lacked an organised unit under a chief or headman and worked as a community and helped each other in times of field preparation for their crops. Villages moved around frequently as the soil became exhausted as a result of the slash-and-burn technique of planting crops. The people also kept large herds of cattle, which formed an important part of their societies.[20]

The first Bantu communities in Zambia were highly self-sufficient. Early European missionaries who settled in Wl southern Zambia noted the independence of these Bantu societies. One of these missionaries noted: "[If] weapons for war, hunting, and domestic purposes are needed, the Tonga man goes to the hills and digs until he finds the iron ore. He smelts it and with the iron thus obtained makes axes, hoes, and other useful implements. He burns wood and makes charcoal for his forge. His bellows are made from the skins of animals and the pipes are clay tile, and the anvil and hammers are also pieces of the iron he has obtained. He moulds, welds, shapes, and performs all the work of the ordinary blacksmith."[21]

These early Bantu settlers also participated in the trade at the site Ingombe Ilede (which translates to sleeping cow in Chi-Tonga because the fallen baobab tree appears to resembles a cow) in Southern Zambia. At this trading site they met numerous Kalanga/Shona traders from Great Zimbabwe and Swahili traders from the East African Swahili coast. Ingombe Ilede was one of the most important trading posts for rulers of Great Zimbabwe, others being the Swahili port cities like Sofala.

The goods traded at Ingombe Ilede included fabrics, beads, gold, and bangles. Some of these items came from what is today southern Democratic Republic of Congo and Kilwa Kisiwani while others came from as far away as India, China and the Arab world.[22] The African traders were later joined by the Portuguese in the 16th century.[23]

The decline of Great Zimbabwe, due to increasing trade competition from other Kalanga/Shona kingdoms like Khami and Mutapa, spelt the end of Ingombe Ilede.

Second Bantu settlement

The second mass settlement of Bantu people into Zambia was of people groups that are believed to have taken the western route of the Bantu migration through the Congo Basin. These Bantu people spent the majority of their existence in what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo and are ancestors of the majority of modern Zambians.[24]

While there is some evidence that the Bemba people or AbaBemba have a strong ancient connection to the Kongo Kingdom through BaKongo ruler Mwene Kongo VIII Mvemba, this is not well documented.

Luba-Lunda states

The Bemba, along with other related groups like the Lamba, Bisa, Senga, Kaonde, Swaka, Nkoya and Soli, formed integral parts of the Luba Kingdom in Upemba part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and have a strong relation to the BaLuba people. The area which the Luba Kingdom occupied has been inhabited by early farmers and iron workers since the 300s.

Over time these communities learned to use nets and harpoons, make dugout canoes, clear canals through swamps and make dams as high as 2.5 meters. As a result, they grew a diverse economy trading fish, copper and iron items and salt for goods from other parts of Africa, like the Swahili coast and, later on, the Portuguese. From these communities arose the Luba Kingdom in the 14th century.[25]

The Luba Kingdom was a large kingdom with a centralised government and smaller independent chiefdoms. It had large trading networks that linked the forests in the Congo Basin and the mineral-rich plateaus of what is today Copperbelt Province and stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Indian Ocean coast. The arts were also held in high esteem in the kingdom, and artisans were held in high regard.[25]

Literature was well developed in the Luba Kingdom. One renowned Luba genesis story that articulated the distinction between two types of Luba emperors goes as follows:

Nkongolo Mwamba, the red king, and Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe, a prince of legendary black complexion. Nkongolo Mwamba is the drunken and cruel despot, Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe the refined and gentle prince. Nkongolo the Red is a man without manners, a man who eats in public, gets drunk, and cannot control himself, whereas [Ilunga] Mbidi Kiluwe is a man of reservation, obsessed with good manners; he does not eat in public, controls his language and his behaviour, and keeps a distance from the vices and modus vivendi of ordinary people. Nkongolo Mwamba symbolizes the embodiment of tyranny, whereas Mbidi Kiluwe remains the admired caring and compassionate kin.[26]

In the same region of Southern Congo the Lunda people were made into a satellite of the Luba empire and adopted forms of Luba culture and governance, thus becoming the Lunda Empire to the south. According to Lunda genesis myths, a Luba hunter named Chibinda Ilunga, son of Ilunga Mbidi Kiluwe, introduced the Luba model of statecraft to the Lunda sometime around 1600 when he married a local Lunda princess named Lueji and was granted control of her kingdom. Most rulers who claimed descent from Luba ancestors were integrated into the Luba empire. The Lunda kings, however, remained separate and actively expanded their political and economic dominance over the region.[25]

The Lunda, like its parent state Luba, also traded with both coasts, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. While ruler Mwaant Yaav Naweej had established trade routes to the Atlantic coast and initiated direct contact with European traders eager for slaves and forest products and controlling the regional Copper trade, and settlements around Lake Mweru regulated commerce with the East African coast.[25]

The Luba-Lunda states eventually declined as a result of both Atlantic slave trade in the west and Indian Ocean slave trade in the east and wars with breakaway factions of the kingdoms. The Chokwe, a group that is closely related to the Luvale and formed a Lunda satellite state, initially suffered from the European demand for slaves, but once they broke away from the Lunda state, they themselves became notorious slave traders, exporting slaves to both coasts.

The Chokwe eventually were defeated by the other ethnic groups and the Portuguese.[27] This instability caused the collapse of the Luba-Lunda states and a dispersal of people into various parts of Zambia from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of Zambians trace their ancestry to the Luba-Lunda and surrounding Central African states.[28]

The Maravi Confederacy

In the 1200s, before the founding of the Luba-Lunda states, a group of Bantu people started migrating from the

In 1480 the Maravi Empire was founded by the kalonga (paramount chief of the Maravi) from the Phiri clan, one of the main clans, with the others being Banda, Mwale and Nkhoma. The Maravi Empire stretched from the Indian Ocean through what today is Mozambique to Zambia and large parts of Malawi. The political organization of the Maravi resembled that of the Luba and is believed to have originated from there. The primary export of the Maravi was ivory, which was transported to Swahili brokers.[29]

Iron was also manufactured and exported. In the 1590s the Portuguese endeavoured to monopolize Maravi export trade. This attempt was met with outrage by the Maravi of Lundu, who unleashed their WaZimba armed force. The WaZimba sacked the Portuguese trade towns of Tete, Sena and various other towns.[30]

The Maravi are also believed to have brought the traditions that would become Nyau secret society from Upemba. The Nyau form the cosmology or indigenous religion of the people of Maravi. The Nyau society consists of ritual dance performances and masks used for the dances; this belief system spread around the region.[31]

The Maravi declined as a result of succession disputes within the confederacy, attack by the Ngoni and slave raids from the Yao.[30]

Mutapa Empire and Mfecane

As Great Zimbabwe was in decline, one of its princes, Nyatsimba Mutota, broke away from the state forming a new empire called Mutapa. The title of Mwene Mutapa, meaning "Ravager of the Lands", was bestowed on him and subsequent rulers.[32]

The Mutapa Empire ruled territory between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, in what is now Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, from the 14th to the 17th century. By its peak Mutapa had conquered the Dande area of the Tonga and Tavara. The Mutapa Empire predominately engaged in the Indian Ocean transcontinental trade with and via the WaSwahili. They primarily exported gold and ivory in exchange for silk and ceramics from Asia.[33]

Like their contemporaries in Maravi, Mutapa had problems with the arriving Portuguese traders. The peak of this uneasy relationship was reached when the Portuguese attempted to influence the kingdom's internal affairs by establishing markets in the kingdom and converting the population to Christianity. This action caused outrage from the Muslim WaSwahili living in the capital, and this chaos gave the Portuguese the excuse they were searching for to warrant an attack on the kingdom and try to control its gold mines and ivory routes. This attack failed when the Portuguese succumbed to disease along the Zambezi river.[34]

In the 1600s internal disputes and civil war began the decline of Mutapa. The weakened kingdom was finally conquered by the Portuguese and was eventually taken over by rival Shona states.[34]

The Portuguese also had vast estates, known as Prazos, and they used slaves and ex-slaves as security guards and hunters. They trained the men in military tactics and gave them guns. These men became expert elephant hunters and were known as the

Inside the palace of the Litunga, ruler of the Lozi. Due to the flooding on the Zambezi, the Litunga has two palaces one of which is on higher ground. The movement of Litunga to higher land is celebrated at the Kuomboka