Zambia, officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of 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. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest.
Almost 90% of Zambians belong to the nine main ethnolinguistic groups: the Nyanja-Chewa, Bemba, Tonga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya and Lozi. In the rural areas, each ethnic group is concentrated in a particular geographic region of the country and many groups are very small and not as well known. However, all the ethnic groups can be found in significant numbers in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.
Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region which comprises modern Zambia was colonised during the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, Zambia became the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, the country was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.
On 24 October 1964, the country became independent of the United Kingdom and then-prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the inaugural president. Kaunda’s socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from the 1964 until 1991. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a single-party state with the UNIP as the sole-legal political party, with the goal of uniting the nation under the banner of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’. Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, during which the country saw a rise in social-economic growth and increased decentralisation of government. Chiluba selected Levy Mwanawasa as his successor; Mwanawasa presided over the country from January 2002 until his death in August 2008, and is credited with initiating a campaign to reduce corruption and increase the standard of living. After Mwanawasa’s death, Rupiah Banda presided as Acting President before being elected president in 2008. He is the shortest serving president, having held office for only three years. Patriotic Front party leader, Michael Chilufya Sata defeated Banda in the 2011 elections.
In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is headquartered in Lusaka.
International currencies are accepted at banks and bureau de changes, and at some hotels / activity providers – check prior to travel. Credit cards are generally widely accepted – however ascertain this with the service provider, and your bank, prior to travel. You will be required to produce your passport for credit card transactions, and to change money.
Zambia has a tropical climate and consists mostly of high plateau, with some hills and mountains, dissected by river valleys. At 752,614 km2 (290,586 sq mi) it is the 39th-largest country in the world (after Chile) and slightly larger than the US state of Texas. The country lies mostly between latitudes 8° and 18°S, and longitudes 22° and 34°E.
Zambia is drained by two major river basins: the Zambezi/Kafue basin in the centre, west and south covering about three-quarters of the country; and the Congo basin in the north covering about one-quarter of the country. A very small area in the northeast forms part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Rukwa in Tanzania.
In the Zambezi basin, there are a number of major rivers flowing wholly or partially through Zambia: the Kabompo, Lungwebungu, Kafue, Luangwa, and the Zambezi itself, which flows through the country in the west and then forms its southern border with Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Its source is in Zambia but it diverts into Angola, and a number of its tributaries rise in Angola’s central highlands. The edge of the Cuando River floodplain (not its main channel) forms Zambia’s southwestern border, and via the Chobe River that river contributes very little water to the Zambezi because most is lost by evaporation.
Two of the Zambezi’s longest and largest tributaries, the Kafue and the Luangwa, flow mainly in Zambia. Their confluences with the Zambezi are on the border with Zimbabwe at Chirundu and Luangwa town respectively. Before its confluence, the Luangwa River forms part of Zambia’s border with Mozambique. From Luangwa town, the Zambezi leaves Zambia and flows into Mozambique, and eventually into the Mozambique Channel.
The Zambezi falls about 100 metres (328 ft) over the 1.6 km (0.99 mi) wide Victoria Falls, located in the south-west corner of the country, subsequently flowing into Lake Kariba. The Zambezi valley, running along the southern border, is both deep and wide. From Lake Kariba going east it is formed by grabens and like the Luangwa, Mweru-Luapula, Mweru-wa-Ntipa and Lake Tanganyika valleys, is a rift valley.
The north of Zambia is very flat with broad plains. In the west the most notable being the Barotse Floodplain on the Zambezi, which floods from December to June, lagging behind the annual rainy season (typically November to April). The flood dominates the natural environment and the lives, society and culture of the inhabitants and those of other smaller, floodplains throughout the country.
In Eastern Zambia the plateau which extends between the Zambezi and Lake Tanganyika valleys is tilted upwards to the north, and so rises imperceptibly from about 900 m (2,953 ft) in the south to 1,200 m (3,937 ft) in the centre, reaching 1,800 m (5,906 ft) in the north near Mbala. These plateau areas of northern Zambia have been categorised by the World Wildlife Fund as a large section of the Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands ecoregion.
Eastern Zambia shows great diversity. The Luangwa Valley splits the plateau in a curve north east to south west, extended west into the heart of the plateau by the deep valley of the Lunsemfwa River. Hills and mountains are found by the side of some sections of the valley, notably in its north-east the Nyika Plateau (2,200 m or 7,218 ft) on the Malawi border, which extend into Zambia as the Mafinga Hills, containing the country’s highest point, Kongera (2,187 m or 7,175 ft). The Muchinga Mountains, the watershed between the Zambezi and Congo drainage basins, run parallel to the deep valley of the Luangwa River and form a sharp backdrop to its northern edge, although they are almost everywhere below 1,700 m (5,577 ft). Their culminating peak Mumpu is at the western end and at 1,892 m (6,207 ft) is the highest point in Zambia away from the eastern border region. The border of the Congo Pedicle was drawn around this mountain.
The southernmost headstream of the Congo River rises in Zambia and flows west through its northern area firstly as the Chambeshi and then, after the Bangweulu Swamps as the Luapula, which forms part of the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Luapula flows south then west before it turns north until it enters Lake Mweru. The lake’s other major tributary is the Kalungwishi River, which flows into it from the east. The Luvua River drains Lake Mweru, flowing out of the northern end to the Lualaba River (Upper Congo River).
Lake Tanganyika is the other major hydrographic feature that belongs to the Congo basin. Its south-eastern end receives water from the Kalambo River, which forms part of Zambia’s border with Tanzania. This river has Africa’s second highest uninterrupted waterfall, the Kalambo Falls
National Parks . Map on http://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/national-parks/
There are many taxis available. Prices are negotiable. There is a good bus service to Chipata, Livingstone, the Copperbelt and Harare, but they don’t always follow strict schedules. The main bus terminus is in Dedan Kimathi Road in Lusaka where one can inquire about timetables. Other private bus companies offer more reliable services to Livingstone, Harare and Johannesburg.
Travel by Bus:
Long range buses frequently leave from Lusaka to all the main towns. The intercity bus terminal can be found one road up from Cairo Road at the station.
Minibuses and taxis, local transport – all painted blue – can be jumped on at pretty much any juncture. They’re not expensive and you can always find a minibus that won’t cost too much to buy all the seats in it to get your own private minibus to wherever you want to go but you’ll have to negotiate so be sharp about the value of money.
Travel by Road:
Zambia has 38,763 kilometres of roads, about 10,000 kms of which are tarred and another 8000 kms all weather gravel road. The rest range from reasonable to bad dirt roads.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Zambia it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads, although most have improved vastly in recent years. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tyre mending services at a very reasonable fee. Road maps are available in Lusaka from the Map Centre in Nationalist Road or the Tourist Board in Lusaka Square, Cairo Road.
Be really careful, especially if travelling at night for road markings are usually non existent. There is much road rehabilitation finally being done so perhaps this won’t be as bad in the near future. Do watch out for animals in the road, vehicles without lights, pedestrians, unannounced roadworks, bad drivers and broken down trucks with no warning triangles. If you see a branch in the road, slow down immediately – these are improvised warning triangles and there’s bound to be a truck or car in the middle of the road up ahead. Never leave a car with anything visible in it in Lusaka, if possible make sure you have an alarm system or steering wheel locking device. Car theft happens, but avoidable if you’re careful.
The gravel roads on the minor routes are fine to drive without a four by four, but if you’re doing a long trip around the country there are wonderful remote places to go to that would require four wheel drive vehicles.
Be sure to have all your vehicle papers on hand as you’re bound to encounter a few roadblocks and if you ever need to stop, pull well off the road.
Visiting drivers must hold an International Drivers Licence. Drivers licences from other countries are not valid except SADC countries. New residents are required to pass a driving test. A person driving into the country on business can have their car admitted without having to pay duty, provided they will not use it for hire or commercial purposes. They will also have to show that the car is owned by themselves or by their company.
In Zambia, one drives on the left hand side of the road. The general speed limit on national highways is 100km/h, secondary roads 100km/h and in urban built up areas 65 km/h unless otherwise indicated.
To bring a vehicle into Zambia one must obtain a temporary import permit (TIP) or, depending on the country of origin of the vehicle, a carnet de passage. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, they must have a letter of authorisation from the owner for use of the vehicle in Zambia. Your local AA office should be consulted before leaving for Zambia to check whether any of these conditions have changed. Otherwise, write to the Controller of Customs and Excise Headquarters, Box 60500, Livingstone, Zambia.
There are many car hire companies in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe and Livingstone, offering a range of vehicles. Some offer a flat weekly rate, but most charge a daily rate plus mileage, insurance and petrol. You can also hire a chauffeur. See Car Hire Companies for Rates.
Petrol and diesel can be readily obtained in all major towns, but shortages can happen in the very remote areas so make sure you have spare fuel for emergencies. Both petrol and diesel get more expensive the further away you are from the line of rail. Unleaded petrol is available at most stations. If travelling in the more remote areas be sure to take extra supplies as availability is not always guaranteed. If it’s an emergency, try the local markets. They sometime have cans of petrol for sale.
Travel by Train:
Zambia has three main internal train lines.
Livingstone / Lusaka
Lusaka / Copperbelt
Kapiri Mposhi to the Northern border with Tanzania.
The main train station is in Dedan Kamathi Rd in central Lusaka, one road east of Cairo Rd.
The Kitwe-Lusaka-Livingstone (The Day Train ) line runs daily, leaving Kitwe at 20h00 arriving in Lusaka at 7h35, leaving for Livingstone at 8h05 and arriving there 18h00. This is called the ordinary train and stops at every station along the way. It leaves Livingstone everyday at 09h00, arriving in Lusaka at 20h10, leaves Lusaka at 21h10 and arrives in Kitwe and 8h50.
There is also an express train (The Zambezi Express) leaving Livingstone on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 14h30, arriving in Lusaka at 11h00 the next morning! Yes, 18 hours to travel 570kms – but although this sounds like wasted time – it’s actually a great option because everyone else will be catching the bus so you’ll probably have the whole of first class to yourself and for around $10 you have a bed for the night and can see a bit of the real Zambia along the way. It leaves Lusaka on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 19h30 and arrives in Livingstone at 6h10. Fares are very reasonable and although the trains are a little shabby and unkept, the linen is clean and they are and reliable give or take an hour. Make sure you book a family compartment, first class, although they’re not much better than second class, and bring all your own food as well as drinking and washing water. Seats can be prebooked at the station or by phoning 228023 in Lusaka, 321001 in Livingstone and 224027 in Kabwe.
The Tazara Line from Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania leaves every Tuesday and Friday at 16:00 and takes 2 days. On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, a train leaves from Kapiri Mposhi to the border town of Nakonde and back, stopping at all main towns along the way. Bookings for the Tazara line must be done a week in advance at Tazara House, opposite the market in Independence Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tel: +260 1 220646. To be safe, ask the station police to escort you to a taxi.
Zambian Border Post Hours :
- Chirundu 06.00 – 18.00 hrs
- Kariba 06.00 – 20.00 hrs
- Victoria Falls 06.00 – 22.00 hrs
- Kazungula Ferry 06:00 – 18:00
- Nakonde 24 hours
- Chitipa 06:00 – 18;00
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Kusumbalesa / Kasile 06.00 – 18.00
- Imusho 06.00 – 18.00
- Sesheke 06.00 – 18.00
- Cassacatiza 24 hours
Getting Around In Towns:
Taxis are normally a convenient way to get around in towns and are reasonably priced. They are easily identified in designated stations or can be contacted by telephone.
March 12-Youth Day
April 6-Good Friday
April 9-Easter Monday
May 1-Labour Day
May 25-African Freedom Day
July (first Monday)-Heroes’ Day
July (first Tuesday)-Unity Day
August (first Monday)-Farmers’ Day
October 24-Independence Day
December 25-Christmas Day
Source of information : http://www.zambiatourism.com/