BRIEF NOTES ON ZAMBIA
Location and terrain:
Zambia is a landlocked country found in the southern region of Africa lying between Latitudes 8o and 18 o South of the Equator and Longitudes 22 o and 34 o East of the Greenwich Meridian. The country is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Angola. It has a surface land area of 752,614 Km2 most, of which forms the highest parts of the plateau lying between 1,000 and 1,600 metres above sea level. The highest areas of the country are in the north-eastern part of the country, with the plateau gradually sloping to the south-west.
Climate and hydrology
Zambia’s altitude puts it in the broad belt of temperate highlands, which moderates what would otherwise be a harsh tropical climate. The temperatures range from 16 o to 27 o C in the cool and dry season and from 27 o C to 38 o C in the hot and wet season. These characteristics result into two major climatic extremes, namely the semi-arid western region and the swampy Lake Bangweulu area in the north-eastern part of the country. The country’s main drainage systems are the Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa and the Chambeshi-Luapula Rivers, which together with the lakes provide Zambia’s most important water, fisheries and tourism resources. The annual summer rainfall ranges from 500 to 1,500 mm during the period of November-March, varying with latitude and altitude. Mean annual rainfall decreases from the Equator towards the Tropical of Capricorn and from north and north-eastern to the south and south-west.
The ecosystem nomenclature in Zambia is based on vegetation types and Chidumayo and Marjokorpi (1997) have identified five forest types, namely the Dry evergreen, Dry deciduous, Montane, Swamp and Riparian Forests, and five woodland types – the Miombo, Kalahari, Mopane, Munga and Termitaria, and the Grasslands. In addition to the natural vegetation types, plantation forests of tropical pines and eucalyptus covering an area of about 61,000 hectares have been established countrywide with over 80% of these occurring on the Copperbelt Province. About 50,000 hectares of these industrial plantations are managed by a parastatal company called Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation Limited (ZAFFICO). At the Provincial level, The Forestry Department manages 7,000 hectares of the regional and local supply plantations, while the remaining balance is managed by private individuals at the semi-commercial and farm levels.
Fish and wildlife
Fish and wildlife are some of the country’s most valuable natural resources. Although landlocked, the rivers and lakes of Zambia are known to support about 156 fish species. The country is also renowned for the extensive area and biological richness of its wetlands. There are about 190 species of wild animals in Zambia, and a large diversity of birds, reptiles and insects. For example, Zambia is known to be the only country with the rare Black Lechwe, a herbivore that thrives in swampy habitats.
The estimated population for Zambia in 1990 was 7,383,097. With a growth rate of 3.1% per annum, population estimates for the years: 1995 - 9,095,000
1996 - 9,397,000 1997 - 9,712,000 and
1998 - 10,036,000.
About 39.9% of the population is concentrated in urban areas, mostly on the Copperbelt and Lusaka where about two thirds of the total urban population lives. Other high population density areas are in the agricultural zones along the central, north-south line of rail. The population is, therefore, highly clustered in these areas. However, there are vast areas which are almost unpopulated and hence, on average, Zambia has low population density.
Agriculture in Zambia is characterised by a distinct contrast between the commercial and subsistence farming. Large-scale commercial farms are concentrated along the central line of rail, while subsistence farming is distributed through out the country. The level of mechanisation and use of animal draft power is not fully developed. Farming in Zambia is predominantly rain-fed with only about 1% of the potential agricultural land being irrigated. Maize is the main food and cash crop, followed by sorghum and cassava. Cattle production is limited by poor grazing land and high incidence of livestock diseases. Most of the cattle is under traditional herders and concentrated mainly in the upper Zambezi and middle Kafue areas, and the Eastern Province. Overstocking on grazing land has resulted in bush encroachment and severe soil erosion in some areas.
Zambia has about 6% of the worlds proven copper reserves and ranks fifth in production. The country also produces cobalt, ranking second in the world production. Other minerals include lead, zinc, gold, silver, iron and uranium, most of them being produced in marginal quantities. Coal is also mined to a limited extent.
The current economy of Zambia is driven by the private sector, which has shares in major industries, supported by the economic policy that provides for a conducive environment for private sector investment in any business industry, including those that are forestry based.
Zambia is a multiparty democracy country with about 34 registered political parties. The political climate is such that anyone who enjoys popularity and is a Zambian can form and register a political party.