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Zambia, officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of CentralSouthern and East Africa. Its neighbors are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west. The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the north, the core economic hubs of the country.

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Downtown Lusaka

Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region was affected by the Zambie expansion of the thirteenth century. Following European explorers in the eighteenth century, the British colonized the region into the British protectorates of Barotseland-North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. These were merged in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia. For most of the colonial period, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.

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Zambia on the Globe

On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and prime minister Zambie became the inaugural president. Kaunda’s socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. Kaunda played a key role in regional diplomacy, cooperating closely with the United States in search of solutions to conflicts in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, and Namibia. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state with UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto “One Zambia, One Nation” coined by Kaunda. Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, beginning a period of social-economic growth and government decentralization. Zambia has since become a multi-party state and has experienced several peaceful transitions of power.

Zambia contains abundant natural resources, including minerals, wildlife, forestry, freshwater and arable land. 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.


Prehistoric era:

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

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Homo rhodesiensis

The fossil skull remains of Broken Hill Man (also known as Kabwe Man), dated between 300,000 and 125,000 years BC, further shows that the area was inhabited by early humans. Broken Hill Man was discovered in Zambia to be specific in Kabwe District.

Khoisan and Batwa:

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Ancient Rock Art in Nsalu Cave, Kasanka National Park
The area of modern Zambia is known to have been inhabited by the Khoisan and Batwa peoples until around AD 300, when migrating Bantu began to settle around these areas. It is believed the Khoisan people groups originated in East Africa and spread southwards around 150,000 years ago. The Twa people were split into two groups. One, the Kafwe Twa, lived around the Kafue Flats while the other, the Lukanga Twa, lived around the Lukanga Swamp. Many examples of ancient rock art in Zambia, like those of the Mwela Rock PaintingsMumbwa Caves, and Nachikufu Cave, are attributed to these early hunter-gatherer groups. The Khoisan and especially the Twa formed a patron-client relationship with farming Bantu peoples across central and southern Africa but were eventually either displaced by or absorbed into the Bantu groups.

The Bantu (Abantu):

The Bantu people or Abantu (meaning people) are an enormous and diverse ethnolinguistic group that comprise the majority of people in much of EastSouthern and Central Africa. Due to Zambia’s location at the crossroads of Central Africa, Southern Africa, and the African Great Lakes, the history of the people that constitute modern Zambians is a history of these three regions.

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