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Zambia Safari

Zambia History & General Information

Elephant at sunset, Zambia Leopard cub, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Canoeing on the Zambezi River, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia Walking safari, Luangwa Valley, Zambia Buffalo, one of Africa's Big Five - Zambia
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Early History to the Nineteenth Century
Zambia's history goes back to the debut of Homo sapiens: evidence of human habitation going back 100,000 years has been found at Kabwe, north of Lusaka. Beginning around 1000 AD, Swahili-Arab slave-traders gradually penetrated the region from their city-states on the eastern coast of Africa. Between the 14th and 16th centuries a Bantu-speaking group known as the Maravi migrated from present-day Congo (Zaïre) and established kingdoms in eastern and southeastern Zambia.

In the 18th century, Portuguese explorers following the routes of Swahili-Arab slavers from the coast into the interior became the first known European visitors. After the Zulu nation to the south began scattering its neighbors, victims of the Difaqane (forced migration) began arriving in Zambia in the early 19th century. Squeezed out of Zimbabwe, the Makalolo people moved into southern Zambia, pushing the Tonga out of the way and grabbing Lozi territory on the upper Zambezi River.

The Colonial Period
The Scottish explorer David Livingstone first came to the area that is now Zambia in 1851; he visited Victoria Falls in 1855, and in 1873 he died near Lake Bangweulu. In 1890 agents of Cecil Rhodes's British South Africa Company signed treaties with several African leaders, including Lewanika, the Lozi king, and proceeded to administer the region. The area was divided into the protectorates of Northwestern and Northeastern Rhodesia until 1911, when the two were joined to form Northern Rhodesia.

The mining of copper and lead began in the early 1900s. By 1909 the central railroad from Livingstone to Ndola had been completed and about 1,500 Europeans had settled in the country. In 1924 the British took over the administration of the protectorate. In the late 1920s extensive copper deposits were discovered in what soon became known as the Copperbelt, and by the late 1930s about 4,000 European skilled workers and some 20,000 African laborers were engaged there. The Africans protested the discrimination and ill treatment to which they were subjected by staging strikes in 1935, 1940, and 1956. They were not allowed to form unions but did organize self-help groups that brought together persons of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

In 1946 delegates from these groups met in Lusaka and formed the Federation of African Welfare Societies, the first protectorate-wide African movement; in 1948 this organization was transformed into the Northern Rhodesia African Congress. In the early 1950s, under the leadership of Harry Nkumbula, it fought strenuously, if unsuccessfully, against the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953–63), which combined Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and Nyasaland (now Malawi). The booming copper industry had attracted about 72,000 whites to Northern Rhodesia by 1958, and the blacks there experienced increasing white domination.

Independence and Kaunda
Kenneth Kaunda, a militant former schoolteacher, took over the leadership of the Africans from the more moderate Nkumbula and in 1959 formed a new party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Following a massive civil disobedience campaign in 1962, Africans were given a larger voice in the affairs of the protectorate. On 24 October 1964 Northern Rhodesia became independent as the Republic of Zambia, with Kaunda as its first president; he was reelected in 1968 and 1973. The main problems faced by Kaunda in the first decade of independence were uniting Zambia's diverse peoples, reducing European control of the economy, and coping with white-dominated Southern Rhodesia (which unilaterally declared its independence as Rhodesia in November 1965).

European economic influence in Zambia was reduced by increasing the number of trained Zambians, by diversifying the country's economy, and (from 1969) by the government's acquisition of a 51% interest in most major firms (especially mining and banking companies). Separatist sentiment continued into the 1970s.

Zambia joined Great Britain and other countries in applying economic sanctions against white-ruled Rhodesia in 1965. It discontinued transporting goods via rail through Rhodesia to the seaport of Beira in Mozambique. Instead, overseas trade items were transported to and from the seaport of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, by plane and by truck (via the Great North Road). A petroleum pipeline between Dar-es-Salaam and Ndola was opened in 1968, and, with the help of China, the Great Uhuru (Tanzam or Tazara) Railway connecting Dar-es-Salaam and Zambia was opened in 1975. In addition, the country halted imports of coal (used especially in the copper industry) from Rhodesia; mining in southern Zambia increased until it supplied most of the country's needs. The Rhodesian army pressured Zambia to lift the sanctions by destroying parts of Zambia's transportation network. Zimbabwean independence was finally won in 1980. Throughout the 1970s Kaunda had combined his support of liberation movements in Rhodesia as well as Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa with the encouragement of diplomatic solutions—the approach favored by the West.

Beginning in the late 1960s Kaunda faced formidable opposition from political and student groups protesting the growing concentration of power in his hands. In 1972 all political parties except UNIP were outlawed and Zambia became a one-party state. Kaunda's frequent shuffling of the cabinet prevented a strong political rival from emerging, and he ran for reelection unopposed in 1978.

During the 1970s, the economic sanctions against Rhodesia and a drop in copper prices had put Zambia's economy under severe strain. In the 1980s, as a condition for future aid, Kaunda was forced by foreign creditors to introduce economic austerity measures. Shortages of basic goods, cuts in food subsidies, and unemployment led to rioting and strikes. Meanwhile, popular calls were heard for multiparty rule. In 1986, South Africa launched raids against Zambia and other neighboring countries, targeting camps that were suspected of being used by the African National Congress.

A New Regime
In 1990 another round of austerity measures sparked more unrest, and Kaunda was the target of a coup attempt. In the same year the constitution was amended to allow opposition parties. In 1991 Frederick Chiluba, a trade unionist who promised both political and economic reform for Zambia, overwhelmed Kaunda in the presidential election, and Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy party (MMD) won the majority of seats in the parliament. A coup allegedly plotted by the opposition led to a brief state of emergency in 1993.

Chiluba's economic reforms, including plans for privatizing the copper industry, initially resulted in better relations with foreign-aid donors, and economic conditions improved somewhat, but Zambia continued to be burdened by a large international debt. Chiluba was reelected in 1996, after parliament passed a constitutional amendment preventing Kaunda from running again. Following a 1997 coup attempt, Chiluba again declared a state of emergency. Numerous opposition leaders and military officers were arrested, including Kaunda, who was freed in 1998 and announced his intention to retire from politics.

By the end of the 20th century, the standard of living in Zambia was about half what it had been in the mid-1960s, before copper prices began falling. Unemployment and inflation were high, and the country was threatened by the unprecedented prevalance of deadly AIDS/HIV infections. In May 2001 Chiluba abandoned a bid for a third term in office; it would have required changing the constitution's two-term limit. Chiluba's attempt to change the constitution had provoked a political crisis, both within the country and within his own party.

Despite electorate fears that Chiluba would find a way around the two-terms rule to stay on as president, he was replaced at the December 2001 elections; however, his ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), was not. Chiluba's personally selected president-elect Levy Mwanawasa won the vote, amid claims from opposition parties that the election was rigged. The legality of the election results has been challenged and as of early February 2002, Mwanawasa's government is in an uncertain position; although a High Court challenge for an election recount was denied and opposition parties blocked legislative process in the National Assembly. In addition to a lack of parliamentary support, key issues facing Chiluba's replacement are economic problems in the mining and agriculture industries, in particular a grain shortage that is apparently having widespread effects among the population.

Despite the political chaos, the election, however flawed, returned one of the most broadly based democratic parliaments the country has seen, with the United Party for National Development (48 seats) and United National Independent Party (11 seats), among other opposition parties, putting an end to the rubber-stamp, one-party system that has ruled since independence. Visitors to Zambia should keep an eye on political developments and any civil unrest that may accompany it.

The 2006 presidential election was hotly contested with Levy Mwanawasa being re-elected by a clear margin over principle challengers Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Democratic Alliance. The election was deemed free and fair.

Following Mr. Mwanawasa's death in August 2008, Zambian vice president Rupiah Banda succeeded him to the office of president, to be held as a temporary position until the emergency election on October 30, 2008. Banda won by a narrow margin over opposition leader Michael Sata, to complete the remainder of Mwanawasa's term.

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Political Summary
The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule, but the subsequent vote in 1996 saw blatant harassment of opposition parties. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy MWANAWASA. The new president launched a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign in 2002, which resulted in the 2003 arrest of the previous president Frederick CHILUBA and many of his supporters. Opposition parties currently hold a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

Chief of state: President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008); note - President BANDA has been acting president since the illness and eventual death of former President Levy MWANAWASA on 18 August 2008. He was then elected president on 30 October 2008 to serve out the remainder of MWANAWASA's term; the president is both the chief of state and head of government.
Head of government: President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008).
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly.
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 30 October 2008 (next to be held in 2011); vice president appointed by the president; note - due to the untimely death of former President Levy MWANAWASA, early elections were held to identify a replacement to serve out the remainder of his term.
Election results: Rupiah BANDA elected president; percent of vote - Rupiah BANDA 40.1%, Michael SATA 38.1%, Hakainde HICHILEMA 19.7%, Godfrey MIYANDA 0.8%, other 1.3%.

Land-locked Zambia is one of Africa's most eccentric legacies of colonialism. Shaped like a crumpled figure-eight, its borders don't correspond to any tribal or linguistic area. It's bordered by Angola to the west, the Congo (Zaïre) to the west and north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, and Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south. Zambia sits on an undulating plateau, sloping to the south. Areas of high ground include the Copperbelt Highlands and the Nyika Plateau on the border with Malawi, which contains Mwanda Peak (2150m/7050ft), the country's highest point. Zambia's main rivers are the Zambezi, which rises in the west of the country and forms the border between Zambia and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; the Kafue, which rises in the highlands between Zambia and the Congo (Zaïre); and the Luangwa, which flows from the north into the Zambezi.

The capital is Lusaka. There are 9 provinces; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Northern, North-Western, Southern, Western.

Zambia's great wildlife parks are home to a very wide range of mammals and birds. Aside from the marquee names like lions, elephants, hippos, buffalos, zebras and giraffes, commonly sighted species include warthogs, mongooses, honey badgers, baboons, African striped weasels and Lichtenstein's hartebeests. Zambia's varied birdlife includes ostriches, hornbills, woodhoopoes and starlings. Most of Zambia is moist savanna woodland, where broadleaf deciduous trees grow far enough apart to allow grasses and other plants to grow on the woodland floor. In the wetter north, bushveld covers much of the drier southwest. In drier areas, especially the valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa you'll see sprawling branches of stout baobab trees, some thousands of years old.

Zambia's current population is estimated at 11.67 million; estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est).

It is estimated (2003 est) that 920,000 adult Zambians are living with the AIDS virus and that 89,000 per year die from the disease.

There are about 35 different ethnic groups or tribes in Zambia, all with their own languages. Main groups and languages include Bemba in the north and centre, Tonga in the south, Nyanja in the east, and Lozi in the west. English is now the national language and is widely spoken, even in remote areas.

Religious groups are as follows: Christian 50%-75% (though many combine that with traditional animist beliefs), Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%.

A lot of traditional Zambian music is heavily rhythmic, usually played on drums, whistles and thumb pianos, and nearly always to accompany dancing. One of the most popular styles, however, is an import from the Congo (Zaïre) - the rumba.

The staple dish in Zambia is a stiff porridge called nshima, commonly made from maize or sometimes sorghum. It's typically served in a communal dish and eaten with the right hand, rolling the nshima into a ball and dipping it into a sauce of meat or vegetables. In areas along rivers and lake shores, fish are also eaten. Popular freshwater types include bream, lake salmon and Nile perch.

The Flag
Zambia flagGreen with a panel of three vertical bands of red (hoist side), black, and orange below a soaring orange eagle, on the outer edge of the flag. Green represents agriculture. Red recalls the struggle for independence. Black stands for the Zambian people. Orange symbolizes Zambia's mineral wealth, particularly the major deposits of copper. The effective date for Zambia's current national flag is 24 October 1964.

Climate            For temperature and rainfall details in the Victoria Falls area, click African Safari Weather
Along with much of southern Africa, Zambia's altitude creates a temperate climate. There are three distinct seasons: cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to October, and rainy between November and April (summer).

Copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture. Agricultural products include corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca); cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides; and coffee.

Major export products are copper 55%, cobalt, electricity, tobacco, flowers, cotton and the major export partners for Zambia are U.K. 26.7%, South Africa 21.6%, Tanzania 13.9%, Switzerland 8.1% (as of 2003).

Zambia's economy has experienced modest growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-07 between 5-6% per year. Privatization of government-owned copper mines in the 1990s relieved the government from covering mammoth losses generated by the industry and greatly improved the chances for copper mining to return to profitability and spur economic growth. Copper output has increased steadily since 2004, due to higher copper prices and foreign investment.

In 2005, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative, consisting of approximately USD 6 billion in debt relief. Zambia experienced a bumper harvest in 2007, which helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports and contain inflation. Although poverty continues to be significant problem in Zambia, its economy has strengthened, featuring single-digit inflation, a relatively stable currency, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade.

The currency is the Zambian Kwacha. Recent historical exchange rates are as follows: Kwachas per US dollar - 4,858 (12/31/2008); 3,764 (12/31/2007); 4,606 (12/31/2006); 3,530 (12/31/2005); 4,655 (12/31/2004); 4,500 (12/31/2003); 4,600 (12/31/2002); 4,047 (12/31/2001); 2,880 (12/31/2000); 2,880 (12/31/1999); 2,426 (12/31/1998); 1,413 (12/31/1997).

International Disputes
• In 2004, Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river.
• 42,250 Congolese refugees in Zambia are offered voluntary repatriation in November 2006, most of whom are expected to return in the next two years.
• Angolan refugees too have been repatriating but 26,450 still remain with 90,000 others from other neighboring states in 2006.

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For information about the National Parks of Zambia, click Zam Parks

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