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Country Profile

Area: total area 752,614 sq km
Population: 11.8m (2006)
Capital city: Lusaka (population about 1.4m)
People: There are over 73 different ethnic groups among Zambia's indigenous population. Major groups are the Bemba (in the north and the Copperbelt), the Tonga (south) and Lozi(west).
Languages: There are 7 official languages. English is the language of government.
Religion(s): Christianity. A few Muslims and Hindus (most from South Asia). Indigenous beliefs retain influence.
Currency: Kwacha Exchange rate: Average to July 2010 – Kwacha K7461 - £1
Major political parties: Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), United National Independence Party (UNIP), United Party for National Development (UPND), Patriotic Front (PF), Heritage Party (HP) and Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).
Head of State:President Rupiah Banda
Foreign Minister: Kabinga Pande
Membership of international organisations: African Union (AU), Commonwealth, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$ 11.1bn (2006)
Annual Growth: 5.8% (2010 predicted)
Inflation: 7.8% (as of July 2010)
Major Industries: Copper, other mining activities, wholesale and retail trade, agriculture. manufacturing, service industries, and tourism.
Major trading partners: South Africa, EU, Japan and China.
The economy of newly-independent Zambia was overly reliant on a single export, copper. The negative effect of the fall in copper prices in the 1970s and 1980s was exacerbated by the centralised economic policy pursued by UNIP, and its failure to develop other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture. Disenchantment with UNIP's mismanagement of the economy contributed greatly to the party’s electoral defeat in 1991.

The MMD government has pursued liberal economic policies (although their effectiveness has been bedevilled by mismanagement and corruption). The privatisation of the copper mines in the late 1990s and establishment of fiscal discipline in 2004, has seen Zambia's economic performance transformed - resulting in sustained economic growth unmatched since the 1960s. Growth was driven mainly by mining investment and the copper price boom. Apart from a temporary fall in copper prices in 2008, the global financial crisis had relatively little impact on Zambia. Growth accelerated to 6.3% in 2009, boosted by a bumper maize harvest and the commencement of production at Lumwana, which will be Africa's largest open pit copper mine.

With the commissioning of the major Konkola Deep mining project in 2010 and bullish prospects for copper prices, copper and cobalt will remain the main exports for the foreseeable future. A revival in commercial agriculture, including maize, sugar, tobacco, cotton and coffee has also been seen in recent years. However, chronic livelihoods insecurity of the majority of rural Zambians is compounded by periodic shocks such as cyclical drought, which affects the staple rain-fed maize crop.

Inflation fell to single digits in 2006 (8.2% at end of year) for the first time in 30 years. While it increased to 16% in 2008 as a result of rising food prices and devaluation of the Kwacha, two good harvests helped bring it below 8% by mid 2010. With most external debt written off under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (which Zambia completed in 2005), and foreign exchange reserves boosted by the IMF issue of SDRs, the macroeconomic situation is very healthy.

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Zambia's geographical position kept it largely free of foreign influences until the 19th century. The Lunda and Bemba kingdoms, in what is now northern Zambia, were the largest pre-colonial polities, joined from 1838 by the Lozi, whose kingdom still survives today (as Barotseland). As elsewhere in southern Africa, there was also an influx of Ngoni settlers at about the same time. But the greatest political changes began in 1890 when Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company signed a series of treaties with local leaders, leading to the establishment of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. Copper mining, which began in the early 20th century, led to an influx of Europeans, although white settlement never reached the levels it did in Southern Rhodesia. In 1953 the two Rhodesias were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the short-lived Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, vociferously opposed by black nationalist leaders who saw it as a vehicle for white domination. Following the Federation's collapse in 1963, Northern Rhodesia gained independence as the Republic of Zambia in 1964.

The United National Independence Party (UNIP), led by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, won the 1964 elections. At the end of 1972 Zambia was declared a one party state. Political and economic pressures, largely the result of a fall in copper prices, but also of the country's support for independence movements elsewhere in southern Africa, led to social unrest and a coup attempt in 1990. Kaunda accepted the need for multi-party democracy, and in 1991 the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), led by the trade unionist Frederick Chiluba, swept to power in both parliamentary and presidential elections. UNIP became the main opposition party.

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Zambia, under Kaunda, was a founder member of the 'front line states' which played a leading role in the liberation of neighbouring states in the 1970s and 1980s. Both the ANC of South Africa and SWAPO of Namibia had their headquarters in Lusaka for many years. This exposed Zambia to attacks from apartheid South Africa. Equally Zambia's support for ZAPU brought attacks from the white minority regime of Southern Rhodesia. Zambia's sympathy for UNITA caused friction with Angola. Zambia's economy suffered badly when the border with Southern Rhodesia was closed on UDI, depriving it of cheap trade routes to the south. China financed and built the Tan-zam railway to allow Zambia to export its copper through Dar es Salaam instead. Overall, Zambia paid a heavy price for its support of the liberation struggle in southern Africa.

From the 1990s, with all countries in the region now independent, Zambia has maintained good relations with its neighbours. The spill-over from conflicts in Angola and DR Congo has occasionally strained relations with those two countries. Zambia has hosted thousands of refugees from both countries in UNHCR-run camps. Since the peace agreement in Angola in 2002, most Angolan refugees have returned home. Zambia has a good record of participation in UN Peace-Keeping operations. Zambia hosts the headquarters of COMESA. Southern Africa Development Community (
African Union (
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA (

Zambia's Relations with the UK

Zambia enjoys good relations with the UK.

Recent Visits


-- Mr Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development visited Zambia from 17-19 January 2011.

-- Lord Malloch-Brown, then Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, and His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, visited Zambia in August 2008 to attend the funeral of the late President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.

-- Gillian Merron, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development visited in June 2008 and Sue Owen, then Acting Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development visited in January 2008.

Other visitors to Zambia include:

-- His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester in May 2007.


-- The Minister for Trade and Commerce visited the UK in June 2010, and met the Minister for Africa, Mr Henry Bellingham.

-- President Mwanawasa visited the UK on several occasions prior to his death in August 2008. Late President Mwanawasa's most recent official visit to the UK was in February 2008 when he met with the then Minister for Africa, Lord Malloch Brown. The Minister for Information and Broadcasting visited the UK in April 2008.

UK Nationals

There are 6518 British Nationals registered with the British High Commission in Lusaka but we estimate the total number to be about 9,000 British national.

Cultural Relations

The British Council is the focal point for cultural relations between Britain and Zambia.

British Council, Zambia (


For recent statements of UK policy towards Zambia see Hansard website ( (Enter Zambia in search engine).

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Zambia is a land-locked country occupying an elevated plateau in south central Africa. Eight other countries border Zambia: Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. Zambia's shortest route to the sea is via Zimbabwe to Beira in Mozambique.

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UK exports to Zambia for goods and services in 2009 were worth approx. £101 million, and imports into UK from Zambia were worth £78 million. There have been no official UKTI trade services in Zambia since 2005.


Zambia, home to 13 million people, has made noteworthy progress in reducing maternal and childhood mortality since 2002. Maternal mortality has reduced by 19% and childhood mortality by 29%. Similarly, the prevalence of HIV and malaria is declining. Nearly 300,000 HIV infected people are now on the life saving antiretroviral drugs in Zambia as compared to less than 30,000 in 2004. Despite these improvements, Zambia continues to face many challenges in health and human development. With nearly 14% of its adult population infected with HIV, Zambia has one of the highest HIV prevalence in the world. Prevalence of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, childhood infections, diarrhoea and complications during pregnancy and child births are still unacceptably high. These conditions account for over 80% of Zambia's morbidity and mortality resulting in over 125,000 deaths per year; one-third of which is because of HIV alone. The high disease burden in Zambia is compounded by high poverty level (67%), and poor macroeconomic situation. Zambia ranks low in the UNDP's 2009 Human Development Index, at 164 out of 184 countries. United Nations Development Programme in Zambia (

United Nations Development Programme in Zambia

The UK is the largest bilateral donor to Zambia and has provided an average of £54 million per year over the last three years through general budget support to the Zambian government.

DFID's primary aim in Zambia is to support the implementation of the Government of Zambia's Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) due to run 2010-2015. The FNDP outlines the country’s plans for reducing poverty and improving growth. DFID principally contributes to:

-- Improving the public financial management system and supporting the Government's fight against corruption;

Reforming the public sector;

-- Strengthening the health system;

Providing an effective HIV and AIDS response;

-- Enhancing social protection measures which help to reduce the impact of damaging events such as drought or disease on poor people.

DFID Zambia (

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The 1991 constitution, amended in 1996, provides for a multi-party system, a President whose tenure is limited to two terms of five years and a National Assembly of 158 members, 150 elected and 8 nominated by the President. There is also a 27-member House of Chiefs, an advisory body. The late President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, after protracted negotiations on how the constitution should be adopted, decided to appoint a National Constitution Commission (NCC) to come up with a new constitution before the Presidential and Parliamentary elections due in 2011. The NCC has completed work on a new constitution, which is awaiting presentation by government to parliament for consideration. It is unlikely that the 2011 tri-partite election will use the new constitution as its basis.

Chiluba's attempt to change the constitution, in order to stand for a third presidential term, provoked a political crisis in 2001. Another MMD candidate, Levy Mwanawasa, became president at the end of that year with 30% of the popular vote. MMD was the single largest party in parliament, but without an overall majority. On coming to power President Mwanawasa launched an anti-corruption campaign which led to the arrest of ex-president Chiluba and a number of other senior figures in politics, business and public service. This precedent – the first time in the region that a former head of state had been pursued in such a manner – has had an impact beyond Zambia (particularly in Malawi, where President Mutharika pursued his predecessor in a similar manner). In the 2006 elections Mwanawasa faced a serious challenge from Michael Sata's Patriotic Front (PF), but won 43% of the popular vote - a significant improvement on his winning share last time round - against Sata's 29%.

On 19 August 2008, President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa died in Paris, two months after suffering a stroke in Egypt at an African Union summit meeting.

On 19 August 2008, President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa died in Paris, two months after suffering a stroke in Egypt at an African Union summit meeting.

Acting President, Mr Rupiah Banda (formerly Vice President) announced that the by-election to choose a new president would be held on 30 October 2008. A Presidential by-election was held on this date and HE President Rupiah Banda emerged the winner, beating his closest rival Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front by a narrow margin (40.1% to 38.1%). The other two contestants were Hakainde Hichilema of UPND (with 19.7%) and Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party (with 0.8%).The EU provided a number of election experts to co-ordinate a diplomatic watching mission whilst the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) provided observer missions. The elections were assessed as generally free and fair by the international organisations observing the process.

The next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in Zambia in late 2011.

BBC News Country Profile: Zambia (

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Human rights are improving in Zambia. Although never particularly bad by regional standards, there were repressive policies associated with UNIP's one-party rule, and in response to alleged attempts to overthrow both UNIP and MMD governments. President Mwanawasa notably commuted the death sentences given to the 1997 coup plotters and indicated opposition to judicial execution. President Banda has given no indication that he intends to end the moratorium on the death penalty. Media harassment by government is an area of concern. Editors and journalists have been arrested under public security legislation for 'spreading fear and alarm'. Outside of state institutions there is concern within Zambian society about the prevalence of the sexual abuse of young girls. Homosexuality remains illegal and is punishable with long prison sentences. Human Rights (#)

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Last Updated: February 2011

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