ZAMBIA: General information
A. Location and Terrain
Zambia is a land-locked country found in central/southern Africa, lying between Latitudes 80 and 180 South of the Equator and Longitudes 220 and 340 east of Greenwich (00) meridian. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. It has a surface area of 752,614 km2 most of which forms the highest part of the plateau lying between 1000 and 1600 meters above sea level. The highest parts of the country are in the northeast, with the plateau gradually sloping to the southwest.
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 160C to 270C in the cool and dry season and from 270C to 380C in the hot and wet season. These characteristics result in two major climatic extremes: 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 River system whose major tributaries are the Kabompo, Kafue and Luangwa rivers, and the Chambeshi Watershed. These rivers together with the large lakes, provide Zambia’s most important water, fisheries and tourism resources.
Annual summer rainfall ranges from 500 to 1500 mm during the months of November to March, which varies with latitude and altitude. Mean annual rainfall decreases from the equator towards the tropical of Capricorn and from north and north-east to the south and south-west.
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Fish and Wildlife
Fish and wildlife are some of the country’s most valuable natural resources. Although land-locked, the rivers and lakes of Zambia are known to support about 156 fish species. Zambia 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 (1990 census). With a growth rate of 3.1% per annum, population estimates for 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 were 9095000, 9397000, 9712000 and 10036000 respectively. About 39.4% of the population is concentrated in urban areas, mostly on the Copperbelt and Lusaka where about two thirds of the total urban population lives; unemployment is prevalent in these areas. Other high-density areas are in the agricultural zone along the central, north-south ‘line of rail’. The population is thus highly clustered. However, there are vast areas which are almost unpopulated and so on average, Zambia has a very low population density.
Zambia’s agriculture is characterised by a distinct contrast between commercial and subsistence farming. Large-scale commercial farms are concentrated along the central ‘line of rail’, while subsistence farming is distributed throughout the country. The level of mechanisation is low and use of animal draft power is still to develop fully. In the commercial sector, however, a high level of inputs characterises production. 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 disease. Most of the cattle is under traditional herders and cattle are concentrated in the upper Zambezi and middle Kafue areas and the Eastern Province. Overstocking on grazing lands has resulted in bush encroachment and severe soil erosion in certain areas.
Nineteen National Parks (covering 8% of the country) and thirty one Game Management Areas (covering 24% of the country) have been set aside to conserve representative wildlife and ecological units.
Zambia’s most important mineral is copper. The country has about 6% of the world’s proven copper reserves and ranks fifth in production. Zambia also produces cobalt, ranking second in world production (1990). Other minerals include lead and zinc, gold, silver, iron ore and uranium, most of them being produced in marginal quantities. Coal is also mined to a limited extent.
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Zambia’s current economy is driven by the private sector, which has shares in major industries around the country. The major export commodities include copper, cobalt, tobacco, flowers, and many other commodities, which contribute about 12% of, total exports. The GDP at 1998 prices (ZK’Billion) was estimated to be 5921.1 and GDP per capital (ZK’000) at 234.1. GDP growth rate for 1998 was -1.97 and National Income (ZK’Billion) was 5612.0. Per capital monthly inflation rates for September, October, November and December 1998 were 1.4, 2.1, 1.5 and 5.6 respectively
Total Labour force for 1998 was 4,712,000 and formal sector employment stood at 465,000. The informal sector employment figures recorded in 1996 were 2,482,387.
The poverty status (figures for 1996) were extremely poor (66%), moderately poor (12%) and non-poor (22%).
The current economic policy 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 major parties include the ruling Movement for Multiparty democracy (MMD), United National Independent Party (UNIP), United Party for National development (UPND) and the United Democratic Alliance.
The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) enjoys the majority vote in parliament, having about 118 Seats out of a total of 150. The other seats are shared by the opposition and independents. The political climate is such that any one that enjoys popularity and is a Zambian, can form and register a political party.
On the social scene, Zambia is best known for its foot-balling (Soccer) prowess on the regional and continental levels. The diverse of culture and ceremonies in various traditional settings, ads flavour to the tourism industry and entertainment sector. Of the total 73 tribal groupings, 7 are recognised to be prominent and are aired on both Radio and TV of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).
There are also a number of relic sites, many of which are national monuments and are therefore, protected from any form of defacing of annihilation.