Zambia is a land of paradox. The southern African nation is rich in minerals such as copper, cobalt and zinc, and has some of the world's greatest remaining herds of wildlife. But only 7% of the land is arable, and only some 300 square kilometers are irrigated for crop growth. Around 80% of the country's 11.5 million people live below the national poverty line. Like many other countries in Africa, Zambia has been ravaged by HIV/AIDS, and its life expectancy of 33 years is possibly the world's lowest.
|Population growth:||1,9% (2005-2015)|
|Area:||752.614 km2 (18 x The Netherlands)|
|BBP/Capita:||US$ 623 (2005)|
|Economic growth:||5,8% (2008)|
|Major religions:||Christianity (80%), Local (15%)|
The official national language in Zambia is English. In practice, however, the total number of languages spoken in Zambia adds up to 70. Zambia therefore is very ethnically diverse. No one tribe dominates Zambia in terms of either areal extent or population numbers, wrote George Kay in 1967.
The choice for English is particularly motivated by the benefits it has in its external relations. This in contrast to neighboring country Tanzania, where they picked an 'African' language - Swahili, a language that used to exist in only a very small area.
It's landscape consists mostly of a series of gently undulating plateaus. The landscape rises gradually in the north and east. Along the border with Malawi it reaches over 1500 m. The valleys of Middle Zambezi in western Zambia and the Luangwa in eastern Zambia are the lowest parts of the country. In the west of Zambia we find a cover from a thick layer of sand from the Kalahari Desert.
Two of the largest rivers in Africa begin their journey in Zambia, the Zambezi and the Congo River. Approximately 1/3 of the country belongs to the areas around the Zambezi and its roots: Kabompo, Kafue and Luangwa. The remainder, except a small area in the extreme northwest, drains into the Congo and its roots: Chambesi and Luapula. The rivers have highly variable water levels and many rapids and waterfalls, including the famous Victoria Falls.
The vegetation in most of the country consists of the savanna: tall grass with scattered trees. In the north lakes and river valleys offer tropical rainforests. Near Mweru and Bangweululakes we find highly fluctuating water levels bringing a unique variaty of flora and fauna.
The original animalworld is that of the savanna, characterized by large herbivores (elephant, black rhino, zebra, warthog, buffalo, antelope, etc.) and predators ( lion, leopard, spotted hyena, etc.).
The relatively sparse forests of various types often contain a very characteristic fauna. Altogether about 225 species of mammals and 700 birds can be found in Zambia. Lower vertebrates such as reptiles are also very well represented and also the insect-world shows a great richness.
Zambia has an extensive network of national parks and game reserves. The nature is fairly organized, but suffers from poaching (especially elephants and rhinos) and financial problems. Although the parks offer a unique location for safari tourism, Zambian tourism develops very slow. Best known are the Kafue National Park and the reserves in the valley of the Luangwarivier.
Zambia is dealing with mass poverty. Part of the reason for this poverty is explained by the fact that Zambia is heavily dependent on its exports of copper. In the seventies the price of copper dropped very strong and as a result the Zambian income decreased. The government decided at that time that Zambia had to produce other products. With this the country would generate more revenue and would no longer be so dependent on the copper industry. The result however, is very limited. The economic growth of Zambia was in the 80s the second worst in southern Africa and in the '90s Zambia had the lowest economic growth in this area. Currently, the low economic growth, combined with rapid population growth, makes almost everyone in the country poorer.
Education in Zambia is characterized by a broad foundation of basic education - the 7 or 9-year primary school - and a narrow top of colleges and Universities. In between is the secondary school. The secondary school has - according to the Anglo-Saxon system - only one manifestation: the examination of results to determine the level one has achieved, and if high enough, decide on further education.
The outflow from can be summarized as follows:
- From those started primary education around 20% drops out the seventh year
- After 7 years primary school approximatly 50 procent drops out, for them the future holds no more education, the remaining children go to the 2-year Upper Primary School (which government aims to increase)
- Of those who finish secondary school approximately one quarter will enter a form of higher education, and a small part enters a form of informal education.
For those who, in various stages, drop out of school there is a limited and heterogeneous range of vocational education, varying in duration and level. Besides the Ministry of Education - in particular responsible for primary, secondary and higher education - there are three ministries and a large number of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) involved in the delivery of vocational education.