Did you know: 

The Commonwealth Youth Programme Africa Centre is based in Lusaka.

Kalusha Bwalya, born in Mufulira in 1963, was African Footballer of the Year in 1988.

Zambia is one of seven landlocked Commonwealth countries, all of which are in Africa.

Key facts

Joined Commonwealth: 
14,539,000 (2013)
2.0% p.a. 1990–2013
World ranking 141
Official language: 
GMT plus 2hr
kwacha (ZK)


752,614 sq km
Capital city: 
Population density (per sq. km): 

Zambia is a landlocked, fertile and mineral-rich country on the Southern African plateau. It is bordered by: (clockwise from the north) the United Republic of Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia (via the Caprivi Strip), Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The country comprises ten provinces (from south to north): Southern, Western, Lusaka, Central, Eastern, North-Western, Copperbelt, Northern, Muchinga (whose creation was announced in October 2011) and Luapula.

Main towns: 

Lusaka (capital, pop. 1.45m in 2010), Kitwe (Copperbelt Province, 527,800), Ndola (Copperbelt, 495,800), Kabwe (Central, 214,700), Chingola (Copperbelt, 178,400), Mufulira (Copperbelt, 141,300), Livingstone (Southern, 133,800), Luanshya (Copperbelt, 132,300), Kasama (Northern, 111,500), Chipata (Eastern, 109,500), Kalulushi (Copperbelt, 100,900), Mazabuka (Southern, 95,600), Chililabombwe (Copperbelt, 72,000), Mongu (Western, 71,800), Choma (Southern, 58,500), Kapiri Mposhi (Central, 56,800), Kansanshi (North-Western, 51,900), Kafue (Lusaka, 46,500), Mansa (Luapula, 45,100), Monze (Southern, 40,800), Sesheke (Western, 33,400) and Mpika (Northern, 31,100).


There are 91,440 km of roads, 22 per cent paved, and 1,273 km of railway (not including the Tazara Railway). Roads can be hazardous during the rainy season. There is access to the Mozambican port of Beira (also to Maputo) via Livingstone and the Zimbabwe railway system; to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, via the Tazara Railway; and to Durban in South Africa, also via Livingstone and the Zimbabwe railway system. In 2003 a South African consortium was granted a 20-year licence to manage Zambia Railways.

The western route to the sea, the Benguela Railway (through the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Angolan port of Benguela) was closed in 1975 due to upheavals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) and Angola. However, by 2007 restoration of the route was in progress following a grant, of up to US$300 million received by Angola from China. Since 2000, plans have been under way for a new rail route from Lusaka to Blantyre in Malawi, giving access to the port of Nacala in Mozambique.

There are international airports at Lusaka (26 km east of the city) and Mfuwe (in the South Luangwa National Park), and more than 100 other airports and airstrips throughout the country.

International relations: 

Zambia is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Non-Aligned Movement, Southern African Development Community, United Nations and World Trade Organization.

Zambia hosts the headquarters of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in Lusaka.


Most of Zambia is high plateau, deeply entrenched by the Zambezi river (and its tributaries, the Kafue and Luangwa) and the Luapula river. The Zambezi flows to the south, turning eastwards to make the border with Zimbabwe. In the north are three great lakes: the Tanganyika, Mweru and Bangweulu. The man-made Lake Kariba stretches along the southern border. The Mafinga Mountains form part of a great escarpment running down the east side of the Luangwa river valley. The country rises to a higher plateau in the east.


Tropical, but seldom unpleasantly hot, except in the valleys. There are three seasons: a cool dry season April–August; a hot dry season August–November; and a wet season, which is even hotter, November–April. Frost occurs in some areas in the cool season. Rainfall is 508–1,270 mm p.a.


The most significant environmental issues are: deforestation, soil erosion, and desertification; health risk posed by inadequate water treatment facilities; threat to big game populations by poaching; and air pollution and resulting acid rain in the areas surrounding mining and refining operations in Copperbelt Province.


Forest – mostly savannah bushveld – covers 66 per cent of the land area, having declined at 0.3 per cent p.a. 1990–2010. The high eastern plateau consists of open grassy plains with small trees and some marshland. Arable land comprises five per cent of the total land area.


Zambia has a wealth of wildlife, including big mammals and numerous species of antelopes. There are 19 national parks and 34 game management areas, about one-third of the country’s area. South Luangwa has one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. Kafue National Park has the largest number of antelope species of any African park, including the rare red lechwe, an aquatic antelope. It is also a home of the fish eagle, Zambia’s national emblem. Decline in animal numbers has been slowed by the government’s commitment to wildlife conservation, and the enforcement of measures against poaching and weapon-carrying in the conservation areas. There are 233 mammal species, of which ten are thought to be endangered (2014).