Zambia Population - History

Zambia Population - History

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Zambia's population comprises more than 70 Bantu-speaking tribes. Some tribes are small, and only two have enough people to constitute at least 10% of the population. Most Zambians are subsistence farmers. The predominant religion is a blend of traditional beliefs and Christianity.

Expatriates, mostly British (about 15,000) or South African, live mainly in Lusaka and in the copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are employed in mines and related activities. Zambia also has a small but economically important Asian population, most of whom are Indians. The country is 42% urban.


White people in Zambia

White people in Zambia or White Zambians are people from Zambia who are of European descent and who do not regard themselves, or are not regarded as, being part of another racial group.

White people in Zambia
Total population
40,000+ [1]
English, Afrikaans
Christianity, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
White people in Botswana, White people in Zimbabwe, White South Africans


The Northern Province lies mainly on the great southern African plateau which has been uplifted to an elevation around 1200 metres above sea level. Rift valleys extend clockwise around the province from the north-west to the south. These rift valleys are sometimes outside the borders of the province, as in the case of the Luapula-Mweru valley to the north-west and the Lake Rukwa and Lake Malawi rift valleys to the north east but the escarpments of the Lake Mweru-wa-Ntipa-Lake Tanganyika rifts in the north, and the Luangwa Valley rift in the east and south-east are just within the province. In places the rift valleys have pushed up highlands: around Kambole and Mbala above Lake Tanganyika, (the Muchinga escarpment above the Luangwa valley, and the highlands along north-eastern border with Tanzania and Malawi which culminate in the Mafinga Hills and Nyika Plateau. These are now in Muchinga Province)

These features produce a diverse landscape that varies and poses different challenges, particularly to highway construction, as one moves from one part to another. The Mafinga Hills, which include the highest point in the country at 2301 metres above sea level, once formed a formidable barrier between the Northern and Eastern Provinces that few but the best 4-wheel drive vehicles dared to cross, especially during the rainy season. The shortest road link between the two provinces is now eased by the rehabilitation of the Isoka-Muyombe Road, which traverses their lower slopes.

Rivers, streams and dambos criss-cross the province in profusion, posing yet another great challenge to easy movement of people, goods, and services. The most prominent river on the eastern side is the Luangwa, which has its source in the Mafinga Hills, and which has no road across its valley for a distance of about 800 km. Africa's second longest river, the Congo, has its source in Northern Province via its longest tributary, the Chambeshi River, which rises in the hills south-west of Mbala and divides the province diagonally as it meanders to Lake Bangweulu in the south-west. During times of very heavy rains, these rivers, particularly the Chambeshi and Luangwa, spread across floodplains often several kilometres wide, and create large tracts of both seasonal and permanent lagoons and swamps along their valleys. The Chambeshi feeds the largest wetlands of all, the Bangweulu Wetlands and floodplain in Mpika and Chilubi Districts, known for its Lechwe and birds among other wildlife.

The province also contains three large natural lakes - Lake Bangweulu and its adjacent wetlands (shared with Luapula Province), Lake Mweru-wa-Ntipa in Kaputa District, and the vast Lake Tanganyika in the north, which forms part of Zambia's border with DR Congo and Tanzania.

Climate data for Northern (Zambia)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.3
Average high °C (°F) 19.7
Average low °C (°F) 16.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 23
Source: [3]
    (facilities in need of rehabilitation) adjacent to Lake Tanganyika (in need of management) — a great diversity of fish as well as crocodile, hippo and aquatic birds. : noted for its montane vegetation. (in need of management) (in need of management)
  • Muchinga escarpment and Luangwa Valley: parts of North and South Luangwa National Parks are actually in Muchinga Province but can only be accessed from Eastern Province..

The above are the national parks and other wildlife areas of Northern Province. [4]

As per the 2010 Zambian census, Northern Province had a population of 1,105,824 accounting to 8.47% of the total Zambian population of 13,092,666. There were 546,851 males and 558,973 females, making the sex ratio to 1,022 for every 1,000 males, compared to the national average of 1,028. [7] The literacy rate stood at 61.00% against a national average of 70.2%. [8] The rural population constituted 81.68%, while the urban population was 18.32%. The total area of the province was 77,650 km 2 and the population density was 14.20 per km 2 . The population density during 2000 Zambian census stood at 14.20. [9] The decadal population growth of the province was 3.20%. The median age in the province at the time of marriage was 20.1. [10] The average household size was 5.0, with the families headed by females being 3.9 and 5.3 for families headed by men. [11] The total eligible voters in the province was 67.40%. [12] The unemployment rate of the province was 6.30%. The total fertility rate was 7.1, complete birth rate was 6.5, crude birth rate was 41.0, child women population at birth was 880, general fertility rate was 182, gross reproduction rate was 2.8 and net reproduction rate was 2.1. [13] The total labour force constituted 60.20% of the total population. Out of the labour force,66.9% were men and 54.1% women. The annual growth rate of labour force was 3.4%. [14] Bemba was the most spoken language with 69.20% speaking it. [15] Albinism is a condition where the victims do not have any pigment in their skin, hair or eyes. The total population in the province with the condition stood at 2,571. [16] The life expectancy at birth stood at 46 compared to the national average of 51. [17]

Northern Province has a number of tribal groups speaking different languages and dialects. However, the language mostly spoken across the province is Icibemba, which is one of the mother tongue of the largest tribal grouping, the Bemba people of Chinsali, Kasama, Mungwi and parts of Mporokoso and Luwingu districts. Other prominent languages include Icinamwanga, spoken by the Namwanga people of Nakonde and Isoka districts, ChiTumbuka, spoken by the Tumbuka people of Lundazi, and Icimambwe, spoken by the Mambwe of Mbala district. Despite its size and the diversity of languages and dialects, the people of Northern Province generally share a common culture.

Each of these tribes has its own traditional leadership headed by either a paramount or senior chief assisted by junior chiefs and village headmen. The most prominent of the chiefs in the province is Chitimukulu, Paramount Chief of the Bemba. Others include Senior Chief Kopa of the Bisa, Senior Chief Muyombe of the Tumbuka, Senior Chieftainess Nawaitwika of the Namwanga, Senior Chief Tafuna of the Lungu and Senior Chief Nsokolo of the Mambwe.

Profession [18] % of working population
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing (by Industry) 16.50
Community, Social and Personal 5.90
Construction 6.00
Electricity, Gas, and water 3.60
Financial & Insurance activities 1.10
Hotels and Restaurants 6.10
Manufacturing 7.30
Mining & Quarrying 0.80
Transportation and Storage 6.80
Wholesale & Retail Trade 8.30

Northern Province has no industry at all, and its primary economic activity is agriculture. The most commonly grown crops are maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, beans, and rice. Most of the food produced is consumed within the province, though a small percentage is bought by traders for resale along the line of rail.

There are very few farmers who grow crops on a commercial basis in the province. Most of the people are peasant subsistence farmers using the traditional "slash and burn" shifting cultivation locally known as "chitemene", and are barely able to even produce enough to feed themselves. There is also some commercial fishing being done on Lake Tanganyika by established fishing companies in Mpulungu. Most of the fish caught is taken for sale in Lusaka and the Copperbelt on refrigerated trucks. Fishing is also done by small-scale fishermen, who sell their small catches to local traders and others who resell the fish in the nearby towns of Mbala and Kasama.

Mpulungu, 208 km from Kasama, is Zambia's only port, and its harbour is generally used to export bulky goods, such as sugar and cement, to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In turn, Zambia also imports Kapenta (small, dried fish) and other merchandise from these two countries, as well as Tanzania, through the same port.

The total area of crops planted during the year 2014 in the province was 191,104.56 hectares which constituted 10.07% of the total area cultivated in Zambia. The net production stood at 351,249 metric tonnes, which formed 8.62% of the total agricultural production in the country. Mixed beans was the major crop in the province with 31,898 metric tonnes, constituting 51.66% of the national output. [19]

Northern Province has poor communication infrastructure. The telecommunication facilities, which were obsolete until 2005, have somewhat improved with the introduction of cellular phone services in all 12 districts. Prior to this, the situation was so bad that it was easier to make a telephone call outside the province than to any other district within the province as the telephone facilities in these districts were often out of use. However, these cellular phone services are quite costly for government ministries to afford.

The road network is in a poor state. Despite having a total area of 147,826 square kilometers, the province has approximately only 900 kilometers of tarmac, a large portion of which is in dire need of rehabilitation. The rest are gravel roads, the majority of which are in so bad a state that they are almost impassable.

Provincial administration is set up purely for administrative purposes. The province is headed by a minister appointed by the President and there are ministries of central government for each province. The administrative head of the province is the Permanent Secretary, appointed by the President. There is a Deputy Permanent Secretary, heads of government departments and civil servants at the provincial level. Northern Province is divided into twelve districts, namely, Chilubi District, Kaputa District, Kasama District, Luwingu District, Mbala District, Mporokoso District, Mpulungu District, Mungwi District, Lupososhi District, Senga Hill District, Lunte District and Nsama District. All the district headquarters are the same as the district names. There are eleven councils in the province, each of which is headed by an elected representative, called councilor. Each councilor holds office for three years. [20] The administrative staff of the council is selected based on Local Government Service Commission from within or outside the district. The office of the provincial government is located in each of the district headquarters and has provincial local government officers and auditors. Each council is responsible for raising and collecting local taxes and the budgets of the council are audited and submitted every year after the annual budget. The elected members of the council do not draw salaries, but are paid allowances from the council. Northern is a predominantly rural district and hence there are no city or municipal councils. The government stipulates 63 different functions for the councils with the majority of them being infrastructure management and local administration. Councils are mandated to maintain each of their community centres, zoos, local parks, drainage system, playgrounds, cemeteries, caravan sites, libraries, museums and art galleries. They also work along with specific government departments for helping in agriculture, conservation of natural resources, postal service, establishing and maintaining hospitals, schools and colleges. The councils prepare schemes that encourage community participation. [21]

HIV infected & AIDS deaths [22]
Year HIV infected AIDS deaths
1985 539 107
1990 6,529 207
1995 32,452 1,476
2000 56,050 4,166
2005 65,020 6,418
2010 65,787 6,958

Northern Province has twenty-four high schools. Twenty-one are run by the government, while four are grant-aided (managed by the Catholic Church and the United Church of Zambia with financial support from the government).

All the government high schools run from Grade 10 to 12, while the four managed by the church run from Grade 8 to 12. Six of them are single-sex schools, while the rest admit both girls and boys. There are eight schools that enroll boarding pupils only, while all the others enroll both boarding and day pupils.

As of 2004, the province had 1,208 basic schools, 26 high schools and the number of school children out of school in ages between 7 and 15 stood at 1,208 . The unemployment rate was 7 per cent and the general unemployment rate for youth stood at 12 per cent as of 2008. The province had 40 doctors as of 2005. There were 331 Malaria incidence for every 1,000 people in the province as of 2005 and there were 6,958 AIDS death as of 2010. [23]

Colonial rule

At first the BSAC administered its territory north of the Zambezi in two parts, North-Eastern and North-Western Rhodesia. In 1911 these were united to form Northern Rhodesia, with its capital at Livingstone, near Victoria Falls. Among a population of perhaps one million, there were about 1,500 white residents. Some had come to mine surface deposits of copper, and a few, mostly from South Africa, farmed on the plateau east of Livingstone. However, the BSAC regarded the country chiefly as a source of labour for gold and coal mines in Southern Rhodesia and for the copper mines in Katanga, in the Belgian Congo, which in 1910 were linked by rail to Southern Rhodesia and the east-coast port of Beira, Mozambique. By then company officials had been posted to most parts of Northern Rhodesia and levied taxes in order to force Africans to seek work such pressure sometimes provoked violent, but small-scale, resistance.

World War I bore heavily on the territory. For the campaign against the Germans in East Africa, 3,500 troops were recruited and 50,000 porters conscripted, mostly from the northeast many never returned. Food supplies were requisitioned, yet food production was crippled women, as always, bore the brunt of sowing and harvesting, but, in the absence of men to cut trees and clear new land, farm plots were worked to exhaustion. Labour was also urgently needed for mining: war boosted the demand for base metals from Northern Rhodesia as well as Katanga. The Bwana Mkubwa mine exported copper from 1916 to 1918, and from 1917 to 1925 the country’s main export was lead from Broken Hill (now Kabwe). African resentment of wartime hardship found expression in the millennial Watchtower movement, which inspired rebellion among the Mambwe in the northeast. More-effective opposition to BSAC rule came from white settlers, especially when an income tax was imposed in 1920. The company was ready to give up the increasingly costly burden of administering Northern Rhodesia and in 1924 handed over this responsibility to the Colonial Office in London, which soon set up a legislative council to which five members were elected by the white population, then about 4,000.

The British government hoped to increase white settlement as part of a wider strategy to strengthen British influence between South Africa and Kenya. Land was reserved for white ownership along the railway line, in the far north, and in the east. Around those areas, African reserves were marked out in 1928–30. This soon led to overcrowding, soil exhaustion, and food shortage, yet few whites took up the land available to them. By 1930 it was clear that copper was the country’s most-promising resource. Huge deposits had been located far beneath the headwaters of the Kafue and were mined by companies mostly financed from South Africa, through the Anglo American Corporation, and the United States, through the Rhodesian Selection Trust.

In 1930–31 prices for copper collapsed, partly as a result of the worldwide depression. However, the new mines enjoyed a comparative advantage, since they worked high-grade ores at relatively low cost. For skilled labour, they depended on whites, who had to be paid what they might have earned in South Africa. African labour, however, was cheap and abundant, and employers accepted a high turnover rate to avoid providing the amenities that would encourage permanent African settlement in urban areas. From 1935 copper prices rose sharply, and by 1938 Northern Rhodesia contributed a substantial amount to the world’s total output of copper.

Yet copper exports did not confer much prosperity. Near the railway both African and white farmers grew food for the mines, but most African farmers were too remote from the market to be able to earn a cash income. More than half the able-bodied male population worked for wages away from home, and as many of these worked outside the territory as within it. On the Copperbelt itself, low wages and poor conditions provoked Africans to strike at three mines in 1935. Nor were rising copper sales of much benefit to the government (whose capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935). The mineral rights were owned by the BSAC, which duly exacted royalties. Taxation was levied on what profits remained, but half was retained by the British government, which made only tiny grants for economic development. In 1938 these arrangements were criticized by a visiting financial expert, Sir Alan Pim. In a report to the Colonial Office, he urged more public investment in roads, schools, and health services, for Africans as well as whites. Missionaries ran many primary schools, but in 1942 only 35 Africans were receiving secondary education.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Britain contracted to buy the whole output of the Copperbelt. British dependence on undisturbed copper production meant that white mine workers were allowed to maintain an industrial colour bar. Nonetheless, a second strike by African mine workers, in 1940, caused a revision of wage scales to take account of accumulating experience and skill. After the war the new Labour government in Britain began to promote the formation of African trade unions, and by 1949 half the African mine workers in Northern Rhodesia belonged to a single union. In the same year, new legislation confirmed that (in contrast to South Africa and Southern Rhodesia) African unions had the same bargaining rights as those of white workers. Meanwhile, between 1942 and 1946, African teachers, clerks, foremen, and clergy had formed welfare societies both in the mining towns and in rural areas. In 1948 these gave rise to the Northern Rhodesia Congress. Some of its members sat on the African Representative Council set up by the government in 1946. This body had no power, but it criticized political and social conditions, especially the informal colour bar, and from 1948 it elected two Africans to sit on the Legislative Council. In the countryside, “indirect rule” through chiefs became more broadly representative.

In some respects, Africans made important advances in the first postwar years. On the other hand, these advances also strengthened white aspirations to settler self-government, as in Southern Rhodesia. Although whites formed less than 2 percent of the Northern Rhodesian population, their numbers rose between 1946 and 1951 from 22,000 to 37,000, partly because of immigration from Britain. The Legislative Council included eight elected white members, and in deference to them a large-scale development plan was drastically revised between 1947 and 1953 at the expense of African education. Yet this was not enough: to many whites the best hope of entrenching white supremacy seemed to lie in amalgamation with the south. This ambition gained support from British politicians and civil servants who feared that Southern Rhodesia would otherwise fall under the sway of the Afrikaner nationalists who had come to power in South Africa in 1948 (see National Party). In 1951 the British Labour government was replaced by Conservatives less concerned to avoid alienating African opinion. Despite widespread popular protest, in which chiefs and Congress combined, Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland were brought together in the Central African Federation in 1953.

The federation was a curious and unstable compromise. Its government was based in Southern Rhodesia, which also dominated the federal parliament. It had wide powers over all three territories, though in the north Britain retained control over questions of African land, education, and political status. At first, African suspicions of federation were blunted in Northern Rhodesia by an economic boom. Copper prices had risen steeply following sterling devaluation in 1949 and the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950. The mining companies finally began to pay regular dividends, while the Northern Rhodesian government received a share of royalties. Following a major African strike in 1952, the real wages of African mine workers at last moved upward. The companies increased their use of machinery and African skills. In 1955 the industrial colour bar was breached, and a select minority of African workers were encouraged to live out their working lives in the mining areas: “stabilized” labour began to replace oscillating migrant labour.

In 1956, however, the copper boom came to an end. Whites in Northern Rhodesia became increasingly aware of how far the federal tax system channeled copper profits into Southern Rhodesia. Many Africans were thrown out of work, while little had been done to help African farming or education, despite federal propaganda for “partnership.” A new generation of leaders in Congress wanted Northern Rhodesia to become an independent African state, as Ghana had become in 1957. In 1958, led by Kenneth Kaunda, a former teacher and civil servant, these radicals split off from Congress to found the Zambia African National Congress and its successor, the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Britain accepted that Africans would have to be given more power than the federal government was willing to concede. In 1962 UNIP organized a massive campaign of civil disobedience, but it agreed to take part in elections under a new constitution, and an election later that year gave Africans a majority in the legislature. The federation was dissolved at the end of 1963. Early in 1964 an election based on universal adult suffrage gave UNIP a decisive majority, and it was supported by nearly a third of the white voters. On October 24 the country became the independent Republic of Zambia, within the Commonwealth and with Kaunda serving as executive president.

Population growth in Zambia: a view from the slums

Adnes Zulu with her three week old grandson, Mukuka Chanda. She is a mother of four and widow looking after 10 family members. They share three rooms in George compound, a planned settlement on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia Photograph: Georgina Smith

Adnes Zulu with her three week old grandson, Mukuka Chanda. She is a mother of four and widow looking after 10 family members. They share three rooms in George compound, a planned settlement on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia Photograph: Georgina Smith

Three-week-old Mukuka Chanda is cradled in his grandmother's arms in George compound, Lusaka. He is one of 10 who live in a house of three small rooms. His grandmother, a widow, is HIV-positive and struggles to provide for the family.

Mukuka is born into the 64% of Zambia's population which live below the poverty line, and he, like the majority of Lusaka's residents, will start life in a slum area with poor access to water, sanitation, health care facilities and employment.

According to projections from the United Nations, Zambia's population is projected to increase 941% by the end of the century – the highest growth rate in of any country in the world.

And as one of the most urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with 35% of the population living in urban areas, rapid growth – particularly in Lusaka – the frantic growth rate is placing a heavy burden on housing, roads, water, sanitation, healthcare and energy provision.

The UN Population Fund representative to Zambia, Duah Owusu-Sarfo, described the projection as "alarming". "Zambia is still quite large and the country can accommodate more people," Owusu-Sarfo told the Guardian. "But that does not mean the population can continue to grow. It is about improving the quality of life," he said.

This population explosion – as in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa – is due in part to the country's high fertility rate. Zambian women on average have 6.2 children each.

"Future population growth will be determined by current and projected fertility, which are high in both cases for Zambia," said Clive Mutunga, a senior research associate at Population Action International, based in Washington.

But both Uganda and Niger have higher fertility rates than Zambia and population growth is projected at just 396% and 766% between 2011 – 2100 respectively.

Zambia's predicted population growth is exceptional because fertility rates are not falling as fast as other countries on the continent. It has dropped from 7.2 to 6.2 in the last 30 years. This owes to a lack of family planning, education for girls and economic opportunities for women.

Mukuku has been born into a very young population – almost half of Zambia's people are under the age of fifteen. Data from the country's Demographic and Health Survey of 2007 – the most recent available – show that educating young people about family planning will be essential to bringing down fertility rates.

On average, poor women with no formal education have more than eight children while educated women in the wealthiest fifth of the population have fewer than four.

According to Owusu-Sarfo, the disparity is due to traditional assumptions, mostly in the rural areas, that some children will die and having more children is a sign of prestige – perceptions also true of other countries in the region. Teenage pregnancies are also common and poorer women tend to get married earlier.

But it is the differences between poor and rich are also down to the young age at which women get married and are expected to give birth. Teenage pregnancies are common - three in ten young women aged 15-19 have given birth already or are currently pregnant with their first child.

Nelson Ncube, county co-ordinator for the People's Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia which lobbies for land allocation for poor people, says part of the problem is serious overcrowding in cities, leaving people in mushrooming slum areas and vulnerability to exploitation.

Girls and boys, men and women, live and sleep in small spaces, and studies have shown that sexual activity is higher in slum conditions. Rape is common, and poor access to contraceptive methods and the healthcare facilities that provide them, together with the reluctance by men to use condoms, compound the high fertility rate.

If land is not allocated to upgrade slum areas, "we will have a serious crisis and case of severe unrest," said Ncube. "People are building illegally because there is no other option, yet cities have no facilities to cope."

Of course, population growth also brings opportunity. Jimmy Mwambazi, an economic analyst at Stockbrokers Zambia, a member of the Lusaka Stock Exchange, believes that Zambia is under-populated, so population growth means a larger consumer base with major opportunities in retail and manufacturing.

"With copper mining coming back to the fore we have had good economic growth over the last 10 years," he said. Macroeconomic stability has also led to rising incomes and investment in the country.

But, he added, there has been concern over the quality of that growth: "It hasn't trickled down to the extent it could have."

Back in George compound, Adnes Zulu has to get back to work, making a local brew to sell in the compound bars. She hands baby Mukuka wrapped in a blanket to her son, his father. At 26, he has no job and still relies on her for an income.

"I have no education," she said. "I have tried to tell my children about family planning, but it's difficult to teach them." On the wall is a picture of a spacious western-styled kitchen complete with dining table and chairs. "The children put it up," she said. "They like to dream of that."

Population development in Zambia since 1960

ChangeBirthrateDeathrate Population
19613.14 M3.13 % 3,075 M1.35 %
19623.24 M3.19 % 3,128 M1.72 %
19633.35 M3.23 % 3,193 M2.07 %
19643.45 M3.22 % 3,258 M2.05 %
19653.56 M3.20 % 3,325 M2.05 %
19663.68 M3.17 % 3,395 M2.10 %
19673.79 M3.15 % 3,464 M2.05 %
19683.91 M3.17 % 3,535 M2.03 %
19694.04 M3.24 % 3,609 M2.11 %
19704.17 M3.34 % 3,685 M2.09 %
19714.32 M3.45 % 3,762 M2.10 %
19724.47 M3.52 % 3,839 M2.04 %
19734.63 M3.57 % 3,915 M1.98 %
19744.79 M3.57 % 3,991 M1.96 %
19754.96 M3.55 % 4,066 M1.87 %
19765.14 M3.51 % 4,139 M1.79 %
19775.32 M3.48 % 4,212 M1.75 %
19785.50 M3.46 % 4,286 M1.75 %
19795.66 M2.81 %47.9 ‰14.9 ‰ 4,358 M1.68 %
19805.85 M3.46 %47.6 ‰15.0 ‰ 4,434 M1.75 %
19816.06 M3.48 %47.3 ‰15.1 ‰ 4,512 M1.76 %
19826.27 M3.48 %46.9 ‰15.3 ‰ 4,593 M1.80 %
19836.48 M3.45 %46.6 ‰15.5 ‰ 4,675 M1.78 %
19846.70 M3.39 %46.3 ‰15.8 ‰ 4,757 M1.75 %
19856.92 M3.31 %46.1 ‰16.1 ‰ 4,840 M1.75 %
19867.15 M3.23 %45.9 ‰16.5 ‰ 4,926 M1.77 %
19877.37 M3.16 %45.7 ‰16.9 ‰ 5,014 M1.78 %
19887.60 M3.06 %45.5 ‰17.3 ‰ 5,102 M1.77 %
19897.82 M2.92 %45.3 ‰17.7 ‰ 5,191 M1.74 %
19908.04 M2.77 %45.2 ‰18.0 ‰ 5,281 M1.74 %
19918.25 M2.61 %45.1 ‰18.3 ‰ 5,369 M1.66 %
19928.45 M2.48 %45.1 ‰18.5 ‰ 5,453 M1.57 %
19938.66 M2.43 %45.1 ‰18.7 ‰ 5,538 M1.56 %
19948.87 M2.46 %45.1 ‰18.8 ‰ 5,623 M1.52 %
19959.10 M2.56 %45.1 ‰18.8 ‰ 5,708 M1.51 %
19969.34 M2.67 %45.1 ‰18.7 ‰ 5,790 M1.45 %
19979.60 M2.76 %45.1 ‰18.5 ‰ 5,873 M1.43 %
19989.87 M2.80 %45.1 ‰18.2 ‰ 5,955 M1.39 %
199910.14 M2.78 %45.0 ‰17.8 ‰ 6,035 M1.35 %
200010.42 M2.72 %44.8 ‰17.2 ‰ 6,115 M1.32 %
200110.69 M2.65 %44.6 ‰16.6 ‰ 6,194 M1.30 %
200210.97 M2.61 %44.3 ‰16.0 ‰ 6,274 M1.28 %
200311.26 M2.60 %43.9 ‰15.3 ‰ 6,353 M1.26 %
200411.55 M2.61 %43.5 ‰14.5 ‰ 6,432 M1.25 %
200511.86 M2.65 %43.0 ‰13.8 ‰ 6,513 M1.25 %
200612.17 M2.68 %42.4 ‰13.0 ‰ 6,594 M1.24 %
200712.50 M2.71 %41.9 ‰12.2 ‰ 6,675 M1.24 %
200812.85 M2.76 %41.4 ‰11.5 ‰ 6,758 M1.24 %
200913.22 M2.85 %41.7 ‰10.9 ‰ 6,841 M1.22 %
201013.61 M2.96 %41.2 ‰10.1 ‰ 6,922 M1.19 %
201114.02 M3.07 %40.6 ‰9.3 ‰ 7,003 M1.17 %
201214.47 M3.15 %40.0 ‰8.6 ‰ 7,086 M1.18 %
201314.93 M3.19 %39.3 ‰8.1 ‰ 7,170 M1.18 %
201415.40 M3.17 %38.6 ‰7.6 ‰ 7,254 M1.18 %
201515.88 M3.11 %38.0 ‰7.2 ‰ 7,339 M1.17 %
201616.36 M3.05 %37.3 ‰6.9 ‰ 7,424 M1.16 %
201716.85 M3.00 %36.7 ‰6.6 ‰ 7,509 M1.14 %
201817.35 M2.96 %36.2 ‰6.5 ‰ 7,592 M1.10 %
201917.86 M2.93 %35.8 ‰6.3 ‰ 7,674 M1.08 %


Zambia’s contemporary culture is a blend of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions of more than 70 ethnically diverse people. Most of the tribes of Zambia moved into the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. They grew in numbers and many travelled in search of establishing new kingdoms, farming land and pastures.

Before the colonial period, the region now known as Zambia was the home of a number of free states. Each having comprehensive economic links with each other and the outside world along trade routes to the east and west coast of Africa. The main exports were copper, ivory and slaves in exchange for textiles, jewellery, salt and hardware. read more


Zambia is a landlocked tropical country situated in southern Africa. The country has a total surface area of 752,614 square kilometers and a population of 10.7 million giving a population density of 11 persons per square kilometer. The country is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to the north, Zimbabwe to the south, Malawi and Mozambique to the east, and Namibia and Angola to the west. Zambia is not only a big country, but it is also one of the most highly urbanized in sub-saharan Africa. About 40 percent of the population live in urban areas. The population density in big urban areas like Lusaka stands at more than 200 persons per square kilometer, implying greater demand for education in urban areas. More than 50 percent of the population is below fifteen years of age indicating that there is a large pool of school age children who need to have access to education. In the rural areas, the sparseness of the population in some communities poses the challenge of providing education to small populations of children who are geographically very distant from each other. The urban and rural differences entail adoption of educational provision strategies that take into account varied geographical circumstances. There are 73 officially recognized ethnolinguistic groups in Zambia. The major ones are the Bemba, Nynja, Kaonde, Lozi, Luvale, Tonga, and Lunda. There are also small numbers of whites, Indians, and other races. The diversity of ethnic groups entails existence of several traditions and cultural practices which have their implications on the education of children. Low school attendance ratios in certain rural parts of the country have been attributed to prevailing traditions and cultural practices (Sibanda et al 1999). More than 50 percent of the people are Christians indigenous traditional religions comprise the second most widespread belief system.

Zambia attained independence from Britain in 1964. At independence Zambia had one of the most poorly developed education systems of Britain's former colonies, with just 109 university graduates and less than 0.5 percent of the population estimated to have completed primary education. Kenneth Kaunda became the country's first president and proclaimed one-party rule. Opposition parties were legalized in 1990. In a subsequent election in 1991, Fredrick Chiluba, the leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), defeated Kaunda. Zambia's economy is heavily dependent on the mining of copper, cobalt, and zinc. Copper and other metal exports account for about 75 percent of the country's export earnings. A collapse in copper prices, oil price shocks, and static economic policies in the early 1970s had a devastating effect on Zambian economy. This has been compounded by a continual contraction, since independence, of Zambia's food production turning the country into a food-deficit nation. The resulting economic decline has been catastrophic with per capita income falling almost 5 percent annually between 1974 and 1990 (World Bank, 1995). Since taking office in 1991, the new government has been vigorously implementing a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) under the auspices of the IMF and the World Bank. This program has involved liberalization and privatization of the economy. Controls were removed on imports, interest rates, and exchange rates. The local currency, the Kwacha, has depreciated considerably against other currencies. More than 118 parastatals have been privatized. Zambia's GNP per capita in 1999 was US$320, and its outstanding debt was US$5.5 billion (McCulloch et al. 2000).

Rapid implementation of the Structural Adjustment Program has had a devastating effect on the social sectors. The requirements of the Structural Adjustment Program have resulted in deep cuts on the education and health budgets. In the social sectors the new policy framework has involved the elimination of state subsidies and free social services and the introduction of user fees for schools, clinics, and hospitals. The liberalization and privatization of the economy has been accompanied by retrenchments of the workforce consequently employment prospects have not risen. These economic changes have affected education investments at the household level in particular. Many families have faced the difficulties of meeting the educational needs of their children. An analysis of household survey data from 1991, 1996, and 1998 shows a dramatic increase in poverty and inequality in urban areas between 1991 and 1996 due to stabilization, the removal of maize meal subsidies, and job losses resulting from trade liberalization and the privatization program (McCulloch et al. 2000). These increases in poverty have severely affected the education of children coming from poor families.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Zambia


The Bemba ethnic group constitutes 21% of the total population and they are also referred to as the Babemba meaning the people of Bemba. They trace their origin to the upper Congo basin and are said to have entered Zambia through a mythical land called Kola. Their language of Chibemba is spoken by 33% of the population. They are a matrilineal group who were initially hunters and gatherers but turned to copper mining after the influence of the British who colonized the country.


The Tonga ethnic community constitutes 14% of the Zambian population and they are also known as Batonga and live in the Zambezi Valley. The term Tonga means independent which explains their lack of a centralized government. However, there were entitled men among the Batonga known as the sikatongo who were the priest and the ulanyika who were the land owners. The priest was believed to communicate with the spirits and could ask for rain and blessings. The Ulanyika was usually the first settler in the area. They believed they originated from a certain chief Monze who came from heaven and invited Batonga into his chiefdom. Their main economic activity is trade owing to their location which was a major trade center with routes leading all the way to China, India, and the Arabian Peninsula.


The Chewa ethnic community makes up 7% of the Zambia’s population. Bachewa is said to have originated from DRC with the Bemba and their language is called Chichewa, and they occupy the southern region of Zambia. Bachewa is divided into two clans namely Phiri and Banda. The Phiri are known to be aristocrats and kings while the Banda are associated with healing and mystics. They differentiate themselves with special tattoos and their religion which is based on Nyau, their secret society. Women are considered special, and the community is matrilineal. The hierarchy comprises of a village headman or woman, Mfumu who answers to a regional chief, Mwini Dziko who in turn answers to the paramount chief.

The Lozi ethnic group forms 6% of the Zambia’s population. Their culture is influenced by the flood cycle of the Zambezi River. They celebrate the Kuomboka festival around February or March, during which they migrate from their plain land to higher grounds as a result of the floods.

Zambia Population - History

Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. The country has a rugged terrain, a diverse wildlife, many parks and safari areas. On its border with Zimbabwe are the famed Victoria Falls, which plunge 108 meters below into the narrow Batoka Gorge. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Zambia.

1. Zambia is bordered by the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west.

2. Lusaka is the capital and biggest city of Zambia. It’s one of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa.

3. The terrain of Zambia is mostly high plateau, with some hills and mountains.

4. The lowest point is the Zambezi river, at 329 meters, or 1,079 feet, above sea level. The highest point is Mafinga Central in the Mafinga Hills, at 2,339 meters, or 7,694 feet, above sea level.

5. The major river systems, which is formed by the Zambezi and its tributaries, are the Luangwa and Kafue Rivers. They cut into the plateau forming deep valleys and waterfalls such as the Victoria Falls on the southern border with Zimbabwe.

6. The network of protected areas in Zambia covers about 38% of the national territory. It’s made up of 19 national parks, and other types of protected areas.

7. Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s home to one half of the Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the “Smoke Which Thunders,” which is known worldwide as Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.

8. Devil’s Pool is the naturally formed “armchair” near the edge of the falls on Livingstone Island on the Zambian side. When the river flow is at a certain level, usually between September and December, a rock barrier forms an eddy with minimal current, allowing swimmers to hang out in relative safety a few feet from the point where the water cascades over the falls.

9. Lake Kariba is the world’s biggest man-made lake and reservoir by volume. It’s located 1,300 kilometers, or 800 miles, upstream from the Indian Ocean, along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

10. The Livingstone Museum is the biggest and the oldest museum in Zambia. It’s located in Livingstone near Victoria Falls. The museum has exhibits of artifacts related to local history and prehistory, such as photographs, musical instruments and possessions of David Livingstone, who was an explorer and missionary.

11. A discover of the Broken Hill skull in Kabwe, in 1921, showed that humans were present in Zambia at least 200,000 years ago. The skull was the first human fossil ever discovered in Africa.

12. Originally inhabited by the Khoisan people, the region was affected by the Bantu expansion of the 13th century.

13. In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained mineral rights concession from local chiefs. That same year, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia and Zimbabwe, were proclaimed a British sphere of influence.

14. For most of its colonial history, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.

15. On October 24, 1964, Zambia became independent and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda become the inaugural president.

16. Kaunda’s socialist United National Independence Party maintained power from 1964 until 1991.

17. The Zambian economy is largely based on the copper mining industry. Zambia is one of the top ten producers of copper.

18. In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa is headquartered in Lusaka.

19. The city of Chingola is found in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. Chingola is popular for having the second biggest open cast mine on the planet.

20. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, there came an emergence of organized Iron Age kingdoms as well as widespread immigration. Four kingdoms were established in this period, the Kazembe-Lunda in the north centered on the lower Luapula River, the Bemba in the north east, the Chewa in the east and the Lozi in the west, centered on the upper Zamezi River.

21. Today, Zambia is made up almost entirely of Bantu-speaking people.

22. In Zambia, a greeting is always exchanged before any conversation. The person that approaches first but always offer the first greeting. However, a man should always withhold his hand in greeting until a woman offers hers.

23. Gifts are often offered to a visitor as a sign of honor, friendship and gratitude. One should never refuse a gift and accept it with both hands at the same time expressing thanks.

24. “Lobola,” or the bride price, is still widely practiced and is a token of appreciation to the parents of the girl. In most tribes, the bride is taken to the man’s village the evening before the wedding.

25. Funerals are a major event, with family members coming from vast distances to attend. A funeral may last for many days, with the men outside drinking and talking, and women inside crying.

26. Animism is practiced by a large amount of the population, even if they’re Catholic, Seventh Day Adventists, or practitioners of another religion.

27. Animism beliefs vary from tribe to tribe, but most are based on beliefs in the power of ancestors and in nature. Many areas believe that crocodiles have strong powers.

28. The traditional dress of Zambia is a cluster of painted masks, fiber wigs and headdresses, skirts made with fiber and animal skins and ornaments of beads and rattles.

29. Archaeological excavation work on the Zambezi Valley and Kalambo Falls show a succession of human cultures. In particular, ancient camping site tools near the Kalambo Falls have been radiocarbon dated to more than 36,000 years ago.

30. In 2017, Zambia hosted and won the Pan-African football tournament U-20 African Cup of Nation for players age 20 and under.