Country profile: Zambia
Zambia has moved from being
a major copper producer and potentially one of the continent's richest
countries at independence in 1964 to one of the world's poorest.
A colonial legacy, mismanagement, debt and disease are said to have contributed to the country's tribulations.
Politically, it switched from colonial government into an era of
one-party rule lasting 27 years. A multi-party system emerged in the
Zambia is landlocked and sparsely populated by more than 70 ethnic
groups, many of them Bantu-speaking. It has some spectacular scenery,
including the Victoria Falls along the Zambezi river, the Bangweulu
Swamps and the Luangwa river valley.
Politics: The late president, Levy Mwanawasa, won respect for his anti-corruption drive
Economy: Improved copper prices and investment in mining have improved prospects for export earnings
International: Thousands of refugees from the Angolan civil war have yet to return home
In the late 1960s it was the third largest copper miner, after the
US and the Soviet Union. World copper prices collapsed in 1975 with
devastating effects on the economy.
The World Bank has urged
Zambia to develop other sources of revenue - including tourism and
agriculture. Even so, copper accounts for most of Zambia's foreign
earnings and there is optimism about the future of the industry, which
was privatised in the 1990s. Electronics manufacturers have fuelled
demand and investment in mines has grown.
Aids is blamed for
decimating the cream of Zambian professionals - including engineers and
politicians - and malaria is a major problem. Millions of Zambians live
below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 a day.
Zambia hosts tens of thousands of refugees who have fled fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Full name: Republic of Zambia
- Population: 12.9 million (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Lusaka
- Area: 752,614 sq km (290,586 sq miles)
- Major language: English (official), Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, Tonga
- Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Hinduism, Islam
- Life expectancy: 45 years (men), 46 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Kwacha = 100 ngwee
- Main exports: Copper, minerals, tobacco
- GNI per capita: US $950 (World Bank, 2008)
- Internet domain: .zm
- International dialling code: +260
President: Rupiah Banda
Mr Banda became president with
a narrow victory in elections called on October 2008 after the death of
President Levy Mwanawasa.
President Banda's election was hotly contested
His opponent, the charismatic main opposition candidate, Michael
Sata, alleged that the vote had been rigged, and demanded a recount.
Official results declared Mr Banda the winner with 40% of the vote, to Mr Sata's 38%.
career diplomat with a relatively low political profile, Mr Banda was
picked by Mr Mwanawasa as his vice-president in 2006, before stepping
in as acting head of state upon the president's death.
the election, he campaigned as a man of the people, having previously
been known as the country's most prominent sports fan.
emerged within Mr Banda's governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy,
or MMD, in October 2009. Mr Banda's rivals within the MMD rejected
calls by his supporters not to hold the usual convention and select Mr
Banda as the sole candidate for the 2011 presidential election.
in 1937 in Zimbabwe, where his parents had gone to find work, Mr Banda
returned to Zambia for his schooling, before going to university in
Ethiopia and Sweden.
Under Zambia's first president, Kenneth Kaunda, he served as foreign minister and minister of mines.
Mr Banda's predecessor, Levy Mwanawasa, became president after a narrow election win in 2001.
Mr Mwanawasa made the fight against corruption a centrepiece of his presidency.
donors praised him for boosting economic growth to above 5%, cutting
Zambia's foreign debt, and attracting foreign investments, helped by
his anti-graft campaign.
State-run radio and television services dominate Zambia's
broadcasting scene. Private radio stations offer little political
The authorities make use of several laws, including
libel and security laws, to intimidate journalists, especially those
who have reported on corruption. Defaming the president is a criminal
FM relays of BBC World Service and Radio France
Internationale are on the air in Lusaka and Kitwe. Multichannel pay-TV
services are available.
- Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) - state-run radio operates three services; multilingual Radio 1 and English-language Radio 2 and Radio 4
- QFM - private Lusaka music station
- Radio Phoenix - private
- Radio Icengelo - church-owned
- Breeze FM - private station in Chipata
- Yatsani Radio - Catholic station
- Radio Choice - private station in Lusaka