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State

Capital

Zambia

Lusaka

Currency unit

Zambian kwacha

Connections

AIDS

Democracy

Empire

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Zambia is a landlocked country in the area to the south of Tanzania and Zaire.

Like most African states this is an artificial construction by the European powers. Its strange shape comes from negotiations with Portugal and Belgium. The British and Belgians disputed the area of the Copper Belt where a long strip of Congo (the Congo Pedicle) now thrusts into the center of Zambia. In exchange a piece of Congo was added to Uganda - the West Nile District.

It contains several ethnic groups, though all belonging to the Bantu language family. No single ethnic group dominates the others. Several ethnic groups straddle the borders with the neighbors, especially on the eastern side with Malawi and to the north with Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

During colonial times the country was known as Northern Rhodesia, named after Cecil Rhodes who was trying to construct British rule for the whole length of Africa (Cape to Cairo), and there was a small European settler community of farmers, mostly along the Line of Rail in the center of the country. There was a larger group of European workers in the copper mines which were the main wealth of the colonial economy. From 1953 until 1963 it was part of the colonial Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

From independence in 1964 until 1991 there was a de facto one party state of the United National Independence Party and its head Kenneth Kaunda (made 'legal' in 1972).

Considerable state control of industry led to economic failure. The main source of income has been the copper mines of the north which are now becoming worked out and have been suffering from a low world price for copper and low investment. When the price was high, government expenditure rose but has not easily adjusted to a low price.

In 1990 there were riots caused by a rise in food prices on the removal of subsidies as requested by the IMF. There was a call by opposition politicians for multi-party politics and the removal of President Kaunda. He then lost the November 1991 election.

Languages

Official lang.

English

 

Many Bantu langs.

esp. Bemba

Tonga

Rozwe

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

From independence until 1990 the United National Independence Party (UNIP) suppressed other parties.

After demands in 1990 for an end to the one-party system President Kenneth Kaunda agreed to multi-party elections. Aid donors are reinforcing this trend by making political change, along with market policies, a condition of further aid.

But Kaunda believed a multi-party system would lead to violence and civil disturbance.

Elections in November 1991 led to the election of Frederick Chiluba as president. He was the leader of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy. He had a reputation for authoritarianism so that some commentators wondered whether there would be another multi-party election.

Elections in December 2001 ended in a disputed succession with the ruling party's candidate being declared the winner.

But the failure to tax the copper industry prevents governments from providing education and health services and keeps it weak.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Copper mining was the main base of the economy but copper prices have been low for several years and the country feels the lack of foreign currency. There is a huge ($7000 million) debt. Prices have revived with the China boom and the Chinese show signs of wanting to revive the railway to Dar es Salaam.

State control of much of the economy has had the usual result - mismanagement and corruption. There is a shortage of food due to bad government policies of paying too little to farmers. In colonial days Zambia had a maize surplus. For some years it has been importing from South Africa and other countries. Experts believe that Zambia could again have a surplus, as although there is a rapid increase of population there is still plenty of unused but usable land. Food subsidies to urban dwellers distort the market. Their removal might encourage people to return to the rural areas and grow food.

The 1992 drought caused a shortage of food with no possibility of supply from South Africa and Zimbabwe which were also affected. Another drought is being experienced in 2002.

Chinese interests are now reviving the copper industry. However, the Privatisation ordered by the World Bank and IMF in the 1990s means that the government sees very little benefit from the high price of copper. The Copper mining companies pay almost nothing in royalties and very low taxes. Almost all the profits go to the companies and their foreign shareholders.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

30% of urban workers are believed to be infected with HIV and more than half the Zambian army is alleged to be HIV positive. HIV infection is increasing in the professional classes. 20% of the urban population is infected. A former president has died of the disease.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Although Zambia has been a one-party state human rights have not been violated as much as in others. But there were prisoners held without trial for political "offenses" .

Climate effects

Probably the monsoon rains will become more intense.

Last revised 16/04/09


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