Zambia: the country and its people

Zambia, the country hosting the Pentecost feast 2015, lies in the heart of the African continent. Some 13 million people call this wonderful country on the Zambezi home.

When one hears Zambezi it conjures up images of a waterfall. In fact, the river that has its source in the north of the country and forms the border with the neighbouring states of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe in the south, plunges over a sheer precipice on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls, as they are known, are referred to as Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke That Thunders”). The characteristic veil of mist hovers 300 meters over the falls and can still be seen from about 30 kilometres away.

The land and climate

The Victoria Falls, a World Heritage site since 1989, are the widest continuous waterfall on earth. In the immediate area of the falls there is even rainforest. Zambia lies in the tropics, but the climate is modified on account of the country’s altitude.

Most of Zambia forms one huge plateau at 1,000 to 1,400 metres above sea level. In the south of the country is the famous Copperbelt. The highest elevations, the Mafinga Hills, rise to more than 2,339 metres. In western Zambia one finds relicts of the Kalahari, a huge semi-arid savannah that extends from the South African province of Northern Cape to the states of Namibia, Botswana, and Angola into western Zambia: nearly a million square kilometres of sand and savannah.

Economy and growth

The mining of copper and cobalt, as well as agriculture, are the country’s economic backbone. Some 80 per cent of the people work on the fields, 14 per cent work in the mines. The largest source of income and the country’s top export is copper.

The per capita income is approximately 1,700 US dollars per year. With a predicted annual income of five to seven per cent, Zambia could soon have one of the world’s fastest growing national economies.

People and languages

Zambia is located in Central Africa. Some 99 per cent of the population are of Bantu origin. There are 72 Bantu sub-groups, of which 90 per cent of the country’s population are comprised. Some 43 languages are spoken. English is the official language of the government. Bemba and Nyanja are widely spoken. Nyanja is also spoken in Lusaka, the country’s capital.

The country’s motto is “One Zambia, one nation!” Considering the many ethnic groups and languages, the country has set itself a challenging goal.

Photo: only_point_five / flickr - Victoria Falls- CC BY-ND 2.0

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Peter Johanning
Zambia, Pentecost