Profile of Zambia
October 28, 1997
Web posted at: 12:56 p.m. EST (1756 GMT)
In this report:
POPULATION: 9.65 million (1996), divided into 73 ethnic
groups. The biggest is the Bemba tribe in the north. Zambia
is among the most urbanized countries in Africa with over 40
percent living in towns and cities. Its population is growing
at 3.5 percent annually.
CAPITAL: Lusaka, population of about one million in 1990.
Other major towns are Ndola and Kitwe on the copper belt.
AREA: 752,614 sq. km. Landlocked, it borders (clockwise from
north) Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi,
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
ARMED FORCES: Army -- 15,000 men, 30 tanks; air force --
men, 25 fighter jets; paramilitary police -- 1,200 men.
A L S O :
Zambia's Chiluba defeats coup attempt
Zambia is seen as one of the most exciting emerging
markets in southern Africa, with massive privatization plans.
President Frederick Chiluba, who took over from
socialist-oriented Kenneth Kaunda in 1991, speeded up free-market
reforms and has privatized about half the state-owned
concerns, but the biggest, copper producer ZCCM, is still to
His reforms, after decades of fixed commodity prices and
exchange controls under command-economy government, have won
accolades from the World Bank but brought hardship for
ordinary Zambians. Annual per capita income was last
estimated at $350.
Inflation is about 44 percent but is seen to be slowing,
though the currency outlook is worsening. The current account
deficit remains large, and is predicted at around $535
million this year. Foreign debt of $7 billion is Zambia's
Relations with foreign aid donors remain delicate after
donors threatened to freeze balance of payments support this
year in protest at constitutional changes by the government
seen as damaging democracy.
But the 1997 budget assumes that donors will provide the
funds for one-third of proposed government spending, which
suggests that Zambia expects relations with them to improve
Zambia has had a food deficit since 1992, when most of
southern Africa was hit by drought.
It is one of the biggest producers of copper and cobalt,
which account for over 90 percent of foreign exchange
revenue, though production has fallen steadily. Copper
production fell 3.5 percent to 132,400 tons in the first five
months of 1997 from a year earlier.
The former British protectorate of Northern
Rhodesia became independent on October 24, 1964.
Kaunda, who headed the ruling United National Independence
Party (UNIP), governed virtually unopposed for 27 years.
He introduced one-party rule in 1973 and stood for the
presidency unopposed until the end of the Cold War and the
collapse of Soviet-led communism forced him to agree to free
He lost in October 1991 to veteran trade unionist Frederick
Chiluba, of the main opposition Movement for Multi-Party
In 1995, Kaunda re-entered politics after a three-year
retirement and was elected president of UNIP.
Unemployment and inflation were the opposition's main
campaign weapons against the MMD, and Kaunda promised to
reintroduce subsidies and stop privatization.
But the commitment of Chiluba's MMD to democracy showed
cracks when his government pushed through constitutional
changes before last year's national elections which
effectively banned Kaunda from standing on the ground that
his parents were born outside the country.
Western donors suspended aid in protest against the
constitutional changes, which they said were undemocratic,
sparking conflict within aid agencies for whom Zambia is an
example of successful structural adjustment in Africa.
Reuters contributed to this report.