The University of Iowa University of Iowa






16,445,079 (July 2018 est.)




9.2 Zambian kwacha (ZMK) = 1 USD (2017 est.)

Important Cities

Livingstone, Kaoma, Kabwe, Kasama






Major Peoples

Chokwe, Luchazi, Lunda, Luvale, Tabwa


Protestant 75.3%, Roman Catholic 20.2%, other 2.7%, none 1.8% (2010 est.)



Principal Language

Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga

Official Language



Head Of State

Edgar Lungu (since January 25 2015)

Type of Government

Presidential Republic

Date of Independence

October 24, 1964

Major Exports

Copper, Cobalt, Electricity, Tobacco, Flowers, Cotton

Precolonial History

Zambia’s earliest inhabitants were Khoisan hunter-gatherers, who were gradually displaced or absorbed by Bantu-speaking populations migrating from the north and west. Kingdoms emerged from 1500 to 1800, the largest being the Chewa, Lozi, Bemba, and Lunda. Ngoni peoples migrated from the south during the mid-19th century, while the Portuguese and Arabs engaged in the slave trade. Scottish missionary David Livingstone led an expedition up the Zambezi River and became the first European to see the waterfalls of Mosi-oa-Tunya, which he named Victoria Falls in honor of Queen Victoria in 1855. In 1888, Cecil John Rhodes of the British South Africa Company negotiated with local rulers for copper mining rights. Northern and Southern Rhodesia, present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe, were declared British spheres of influence that same year. Northern Rhodesia became a British protectorate in 1924. In 1953 Britain merged its colonial territories into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved a decade later when Britain relinquished political control.

Postcolonial History

Northern Rhodesia became the republic of Zambia in 1964. Kenneth Kaunda, the leader of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), was elected the country’s first president. He declared Zambia a single-party state in 1972. Kaunda remained in power until 1991, when Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) became Zambia’s first democratically elected president. Chiluba was re-elected until 2002. His successor, Levy Mwanawasa, launched an anti-corruption campaign, obtained debt relief, and declared food shortage a national disaster during his term in office. Vice-president Rupiah Banda took office upon Mwanawasa’s death in 2008. Michael Chilufya Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) was elected president in 2011, bringing a new political party to power. Poverty and famine remain widespread problems, although Zambia’s economy has steadily improved.

Recommended Sources:

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook (

David J. Simon, James R. Pletcher, and Brian V. Siegel, Historical Dictionary of Zambia (Lanham, Toronto, and Plymouth, UK: 2008).