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ZAMBIA

Introduction

Zambia…for true African authenticity and adventure! With its rivers (Zambezi, Lungwa and Kafue), an abundant wildlife and untouched landscapes, Zambia offers a wide range of thrilling and exciting activities: flying over the falls, rock climbing, surfing, rafting, going on a canoeing or walking safaris into the wild, all your cravings for excitement will be satisfied! Zambia cannot be described with words; one has to experience it…

Population

There are about 11 million inhabitants in Zambia including:

  • 22% Bemba
  • 11.2% Tonga
  • 11.2% Nyanja
  • 5.3% Lozi
  • 4.9% Lala-Bisa
  • 4.8% Nsenga
  • 4.6% Tumbuka

As well as Nytha, Mambwe-Lungu, Kaonde, Lunda, Lamba, Luvale, Lenje, Mwanga, Mbunda…

 

Zambia is home to 70 ethnic communities speaking Bantu languages. The Bemba live mostly in the North East of the country and the Copperbelt region, the Lozi in the western province and the Tonga in the South.


English is the official language but more than 72 dialects are spoken throughout the country. Seven main languages are recognized in the education system.

History

The discovery of a skull older than 110 000 years in the North of Lusaka is evidence of the ancient occupation of the Zambian territory.


The Bushmen were the first people in Zambia, with the Bantu cattle farmers settling in the area in the first millennium of our era.


The Copper market established the authority of the Lunda people.


The Bemba emigrated from Congo towards the end of the 17th century.


The Portuguese entered the country in the 18th century hoping to join the Angolan and Mozambican territories which they eventually managed in the 19th century thanks to the explorer Serpa Pinto, but their ambitions were to be confronted by the English…


In 1835, the Angoni, a zulu community settled between the Luangwa River and the Lake Malawi while the Makololo, part of the Basotho group, crossed the High Zambezi and settled in the Barotseland.

 

In the 19th century, the country was split into various states, sometimes very small.

 

In 1851 the Scottish explorer David Livingstone undertook the exploration of the Zambezi Valley. In 1890, the British South Africa Company founded by Cecil John Rhodes extended its domination over Barotseland.
North Rhodesia (now Zambia) was created in 1911 and was under the rule of the Cape Colony but was actually run by Rhodes.


The capital changed from Victoria Falls to Livingstone.

 

The government passed on its power to an English governor and the capital was moved to Lusaka.
Copper work intensified in the North of the country at the beginning of the 20th century and attracted many Europeans and Africans from Nyasaland and present-day Zimbabwe.

 

In 1953, the British government created the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, merging South Rhodesia, North Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi), that favoured “white supremacy” and advocated a segregationist education system.

 

In 1959, Kenneth Kauda called “Black Gandhi” founded the United National Independence Party (UNIP) and initiated a massive civil disobedience campaign that eventually overthrew the British ruling system.

 

In 1963, the federation was dissolved. Zambia gained independence in 1964 and the first years saw rivalries between the Lozi and the Bemba.

 

In 1968, the seats reserved for whites were removed and they were prohibited from political parties (except for UNIP).

The president Kaunda remained in power for 27 years and faced violent riots in 1990 as well as an attempted coup. The same year, new multiparty elections took place and lead to the victory of Frederick Chiluba. His government failed to overcome the economic crisis and gave rise to strong opposition. He declared a state of emergency after an attempted coup.

 

Chiluba was replaced by Levy Patrick Mwanawasa in 2002 who struggled to establish his authority and to free himself from old politicians still in the government. He died in 2008 and Rupia Banda, from the same political party, was elected president of Zambia.

Geography

Area: 750 000 km2

Capital: Lusaka

In the North of Southern Africa, the Zambian territory has roughly the shape of a giant butterfly and its area is equivalent to the size of France and England combined.
Most of the country sits on a high plateau, part of the “spinal column” of Africa. The plateau’s altitude ranges between 100 and 1600m and is divided by large valleys: namely the Zambezi, Kafue, Luanga and Luapula.

Climate

Zambia’s altitude creates a temperate climate. There are three distinct seasons: cool and dry from May to August (the most comfortable time to visit); hot and dry from September to early/mid-November (the best time to see wildlife); and warm and wet from early/mid- November to April (ideal for bird watching). Rainfall is higher in the North of the country.

 

Economy

Zambia has a low population density (11.48 million inhabitants over 752 000 km2), with half of the population concentrated in urban areas.

 

The economy has improved since 1999. The economic growth has been stimulated by economic diversification policies lead by the Mwanawasa government, with the support of silent partners and backers.

 

Zambian economy has long been based on copper (65% of exports and 2nd world supplier) and cobalt (3d world supplier) accounting for 7% of the GDP but can also rely on its agricultural resources (maize, cotton, coffee, sugar, tobacco) which accounts for 22% of the GDP since the immigration of Zimbabwean farmers and the active work of the new minister of agriculture.

 

The agricultural potential of Zambia is huge as only 20% of the fertile land is being cultivated. The tourism industry (23% GDP) is a promising sector. The strict management of their public finances earned Zambia grants worth 320 M$ over 3 years through the Poverty Reduction Support Credit programme in summer 2004.
Zambia’s foreign debt should be reduced from 6.4 Bd$ to 500M$ by the G8 as it reached its Heavily Indebted Poor Country target in April 2005.

 

The stable GDP growth rate is however not sufficient to alleviate poverty and to meet the millennium goals. The country’s being landlocked, HIV/AIDS pandemic (16%), the weak education system and the inertia of bureaucracy are the main elements slowing down the economic growth of the country.

Biodiversity

The Zambian vegetation consists of 70% Miombo woodlands, a mixture of prairies covered with bushes and rare trees of Southern Africa. Mopane forests are predominant in the low regions of the country. The wildlife is typical of Eastern and Southern Africa.

 

Among the predators, leopards are prevalent, especially in the Luangwa Valley, apparently the best spot for leopard observation. Lions are quite common.


Zambia is particularly interesting as it is home to endemic subspecies of giraffes, wildebeests, waterbucks and lechwes. 750 bird species inhabit the country, among which some are breeding other are migratory.


The number of endemic bird species is relatively low. More than 20 Zambian species are recognized as globally endangered such as the Cape Vulture, the Lesser Kestrel and the Corncrake.

Practical info

Visas and passports...

International visitors must be in possession of a valid passport of at least 6 months. The Visa is purchased on arrival at the airport at US$ 20. However, if you spend at least one night in a lodge in Zambia, it is normally possible to be exempt of the payment of the visa.

Departure taxes…

International visitors who leave Zambia by air must pay a departure tax of US$ 30 (or Euros 20 ).However this tax is normally included in the fare of those who already possess a ticket on departure.

Money…

The Zambian currency is the Kwacha. Lodges and activities in Zambia Sare exclusively set in US$ and Euros and it is s useful to have cash in one of these two currencies.

Telephone…

the international code is 260.

Electricity…

The voltage is 220 volts, but the plugs are non standard {Similar to those of South Africa) and you will need an adapter.

Lower Zambezi National Park

The Lower Zambezi Park is the most recent park in the country. It covers an area of 4092 km2 and stretches along the 120 kms river banks but most wildlife is concentrated at the bottom of the valley.


Most of the park consists of mountainous terrain covered with dense vegetation called Miombo. Acacia and mopane trees grow on the richer soil, at the bottom of the valley.

 

The park is home to 50 mammal species including elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and cheetahs. Rhino’s numbers are continuously declining through the poaching in the area.


The most common antelopes are impalas, kudus, elands, wildebeests and zebras. The main predators are lions, leopards and spotted hyenas. In the river you can easily observe crocodiles and hippos.

 

350 bird species inhabit the valley. On the shores alone, there are 5 different kingfisher species!

South Luangwa National Park

Luangwa is probably one the best destinations for walking safaris in Africa. The wealth of the fauna and the flora lies in the rich and fertile soil.

 

Luangwa’s vegetation is far from being homogeneous. Among the most remarkable ones, we find the mopane forests called “cathedral mopane” as well as giant mohagany trees and ebony clusters. This mosaic of vegetation is home to an extremely diverse and rich wildlife. Large herds of buffaloes or elephants up to hundreds at a time are regularly spotted.

 

The main antelopes of the park are impalas and pukus. Impalas are predominant in Southern Africa but pukus are rare in the South of the Zambezi. Pukus are only 80 cm high and weigh 75 kg. They are more prevalent in small breeding groups in their favourite habitat which is swampy banks around streams.

 

Lwangwa is also home to some “specialities” such as the Thornicroft giraffe, a subspecies wearing a fur full of vivid and unique patterns, the Cookson gnu, endemic to the valley and the Crawshay zebra, a Burchell’s zebra subspecies that does not have brown and black stripes.

 

Elands and kudus also inhabit the area. The hippo population is particularly important and you can witness gatherings of hundreds of animals in the waters of Luangwa. As far as predators are concerned, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs dominate.


Luangwa is known for its high leopard population double that of the Kruger Park according to studies.
Cheetahs are present but very sporadically. Wild dogs are rare and their population varies from year to year.

 

The valley is renowned for its ornithological appeal. It is home to 400 species (among the 750 species recorded in Zambia) including 39 birds of prey and 39 migratory species.

Kafue National Park

Established in 1924, Kafue Park covers about 22 400 km2 (size of Wales) and counts among the biggest national parks in the world.


Kafue is particularly of interest for its diverse processions of antelopes: sitatungas, zebras, blue wildbeests, oribis, Lichtenstein hartebeests, pukus…

 

Kafue also hosts large predator species typical of sub Saharan Africa such as lions, hyenas and leopards.

Cheetahs and wild dogs are rare and hard to spot.


There is a population of elephants, whose numbers are recovering from intensive poaching activities.

450 bird species have been recorded: European bee eater, geese, ducks, cranes, ibis storks, and vultures offering a fabulous show to the visitors.