A view of one of the gorges carved out by Victoria Falls. The local name for the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders).
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Introduction

Background

Multiple waves of Bantu-speaking groups moved into and through what is now Zambia over the past thousand years. In the 1880s, the British began securing mineral and other economic concessions from various local leaders and the territory that is now Zambia eventually came under the control of the former British South Africa Company and was incorporated as the protectorate of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. Administrative control was taken over by the UK in 1924. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration.

The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices, economic mismanagement, and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule and propelled the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) into power. The subsequent vote in 1996, however, saw increasing harassment of opposition parties and abuse of state media and other resources. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems, with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy MWANAWASA. MWANAWASA was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair. Upon his death in August 2008, he was succeeded by his vice president, Rupiah BANDA, who won a special presidential byelection later that year. The MMD and BANDA lost to the Patriotic Front (PF) and Michael SATA in the 2011 general elections. SATA, however, presided over a period of haphazard economic management and attempted to silence opposition to PF policies. SATA died in October 2014 and was succeeded by his vice president, Guy SCOTT, who served as interim president until January 2015, when Edgar LUNGU won the presidential byelection and completed SATA's term. LUNGU then won a full term in August 2016 presidential elections. Hakainde HICHILEMA was elected president in August 2021.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Southern Africa, east of Angola, south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates

15 00 S, 30 00 E

Area

total: 752,618 sq km

land: 743,398 sq km

water: 9,220 sq km

country comparison to the world: 40

Area - comparative

almost five times the size of Georgia; slightly larger than Texas

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 6,043.15 km

border countries (8): Angola 1,065 km; Botswana 0.15 km; Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,332 km; Malawi 847 km; Mozambique 439 km; Namibia 244 km; Tanzania 353 km; Zimbabwe 763 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)

Terrain

mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains

Elevation

highest point: Mafinga Central 2,330 m

lowest point: Zambezi river 329 m

mean elevation: 1,138 m

Natural resources

copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 31.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 26.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 66.3% (2018 est.)

other: 2% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

1,560 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Tanganyika (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Burundi) - 32,000 sq km; Lake Mweru (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo) - 4,350 sq km; Lake Bangweulu - 4,000-15,000 sq km seasonal variation

Major rivers (by length in km)

Congo river source (shared with Angola, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo [m]) - 4,700 km; Zambezi river source (shared with Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)

Major aquifers

Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Population distribution

one of the highest levels of urbanization in Africa; high density in the central area, particularly around the cities of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, and Mufulira as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic drought; tropical storms (November to April)

Geography - note

landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe; Lake Kariba on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border forms the world's largest reservoir by volume (180 cu km; 43 cu mi)

Map description

Zambia map showing major population centers as well as parts of surrounding countries.

People and Society

Population

19,642,123 (2022 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly taken into account the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

country comparison to the world: 63

Nationality

noun: Zambian(s)

adjective: Zambian

Ethnic groups

Bemba 21%, Tonga 13.6%, Chewa 7.4%, Lozi 5.7%, Nsenga 5.3%, Tumbuka 4.4%, Ngoni 4%, Lala 3.1%, Kaonde 2.9%, Namwanga 2.8%, Lunda (north Western) 2.6%, Mambwe 2.5%, Luvale 2.2%, Lamba 2.1%, Ushi 1.9%, Lenje 1.6%, Bisa 1.6%, Mbunda 1.2%, other 13.8%, unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)

Languages

Bemba 33.4%, Nyanja 14.7%, Tonga 11.4%, Lozi 5.5%, Chewa 4.5%, Nsenga 2.9%, Tumbuka 2.5%, Lunda (North Western) 1.9%, Kaonde 1.8%, Lala 1.8%, Lamba 1.8%, English (official) 1.7%, Luvale 1.5%, Mambwe 1.3%, Namwanga 1.2%, Lenje 1.1%, Bisa 1%, other 9.7%, unspecified 0.2% (2010 est.)

note: Zambia is said to have over 70 languages, although many of these may be considered dialects; all of Zambia's major languages are members of the Bantu family; Chewa and Nyanja are mutually intelligible dialects

Religions

Protestant 75.3%, Roman Catholic 20.2%, other 2.7% (includes Muslim Buddhist, Hindu, and Baha'i), none 1.8% (2010 est.)

Demographic profile

Zambia’s poor, youthful population consists primarily of Bantu-speaking people representing nearly 70 different ethnicities. Zambia’s high fertility rate continues to drive rapid population growth, averaging almost 3 percent annually between 2000 and 2010. The country’s total fertility rate has fallen by less than 1.5 children per woman during the last 30 years and still averages among the world’s highest, almost 6 children per woman, largely because of the country’s lack of access to family planning services, education for girls, and employment for women. Zambia also exhibits wide fertility disparities based on rural or urban location, education, and income. Poor, uneducated women from rural areas are more likely to marry young, to give birth early, and to have more children, viewing children as a sign of prestige and recognizing that not all of their children will live to adulthood. HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Zambia and contributes to its low life expectancy.

Zambian emigration is low compared to many other African countries and is comprised predominantly of the well-educated. The small amount of brain drain, however, has a major impact in Zambia because of its limited human capital and lack of educational infrastructure for developing skilled professionals in key fields. For example, Zambia has few schools for training doctors, nurses, and other health care workers. Its spending on education is low compared to other Sub-Saharan countries.

Age structure

0-14 years: 45.74% (male 4,005,134/female 3,964,969)

15-24 years: 20.03% (male 1,744,843/female 1,746,561)

25-54 years: 28.96% (male 2,539,697/female 2,506,724)

55-64 years: 3.01% (male 242,993/female 280,804)

65 years and over: 2.27% (2020 est.) (male 173,582/female 221,316)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 85.7

youth dependency ratio: 81.7

elderly dependency ratio: 4

potential support ratio: 25.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 16.9 years

male: 16.7 years

female: 17 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 220

Birth rate

34.86 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Death rate

6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Net migration rate

0.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77

Population distribution

one of the highest levels of urbanization in Africa; high density in the central area, particularly around the cities of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, and Mufulira as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 45.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 4.15% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

3.042 million LUSAKA (capital) (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.2 years (2018 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 20-49

Maternal mortality ratio

213 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Infant mortality rate

total: 37.11 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 40.57 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 33.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.26 years

male: 64.52 years

female: 68.06 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 90.2% of population

rural: 56.6% of population

total: 71.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 9.8% of population

rural: 43.4% of population

total: 28.4% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

1.17 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

2 beds/1,000 population

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 76.3% of population

rural: 31.9% of population

total: 51.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 23.7% of population

rural: 68.1% of population

total: 48.3% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Tobacco use

total: 14.4% (2020 est.)

male: 25.1% (2020 est.)

female: 3.7% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 5.2%

women married by age 18: 29%

men married by age 18: 2.8% (2018 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write English

total population: 86.7%

male: 90.6%

female: 83.1% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 30.1%

male: 32.1%

female: 27.6% (2019 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

air pollution and resulting acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining region; chemical runoff into watersheds; loss of biodiversity; poaching seriously threatens rhinoceros, elephant, antelope, and large cat populations; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; lack of adequate water treatment presents human health risks

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 24.7 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 5.14 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 14.1 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)

Land use

agricultural land: 31.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 26.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 66.3% (2018 est.)

other: 2% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 45.8% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 4.15% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.04% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to reduced incomes and localized shortfalls in cereal production - an estimated 1.58 million people are projected to need humanitarian assistance at least up until March 2022, down from 2 million assessed to be food insecure in the corresponding period in 2020/21; the overall large national agricultural output in 2021 helped to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity in early 2022, however, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have constrained households’ economic access to food as well as localized shortfalls in crop production, have limited a larger improvement (2022)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2,608,268 tons (2002 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Tanganyika (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Burundi) - 32,000 sq km; Lake Mweru (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo) - 4,350 sq km; Lake Bangweulu - 4,000-15,000 sq km seasonal variation

Major rivers (by length in km)

Congo river source (shared with Angola, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo [m]) - 4,700 km; Zambezi river source (shared with Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique [m]) - 2,740 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)

Major aquifers

Upper Kalahari-Cuvelai-Upper Zambezi Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 290 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 130 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 1.152 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

104.8 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Zambia

conventional short form: Zambia

former: Northern Rhodesia

etymology: name derived from the Zambezi River, which flows through the western part of the country and forms its southern border with neighboring Zimbabwe

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Lusaka; note - a proposal to build a new capital city in Ngabwe was announced in May 2017

geographic coordinates: 15 25 S, 28 17 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after a village called Lusaka, located at Manda Hill, near where Zambia's National Assembly building currently stands; the village was named after a headman (chief) Lusakasa

Administrative divisions

10 provinces; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Muchinga, Northern, North-Western, Southern, Western

Independence

24 October 1964 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 October (1964)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest adopted 24 August 1991, promulgated 30 August 1991

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly in two separate readings at least 30 days apart; passage of amendments affecting fundamental rights and freedoms requires approval by at least one half of votes cast in a referendum prior to consideration and voting by the Assembly; amended 1996, 2015, 2016; note - in late 2020, an amendment which would have altered the structure of the constitution was defeated in the National Assembly

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: only if at least one parent is a citizen of Zambia

citizenship by descent only: yes, if at least one parent was a citizen of Zambia

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years for those with an ancestor who was a citizen of Zambia, otherwise 10 years residency is required

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Hakainde HICHILEMA (since 24 August 2021); Vice President Mutale NALUMANGO (since 24 August 2021); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Hakainde HICHILEMA (since 24 August 2021); Vice President Mutale NALUMANGO (since 24 August 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president from among members of the National Assembly

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 12 August 2021 (next to be held in 2026)

election results:
2021
: Hakainde HICHILEMA elected president; percent of the vote -   Hakainde HICHILEMA (UPND) 57.9%, Edgar LUNGU (PF) 37.3%, other 4.8%

2016: Edgar LUNGU re-elected president; percent of vote - Edgar LUNGU (PF) 50.4%, Hakainde HICHILEMA (UPND) 47.6%, other 2%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (167 seats; 156 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote in 2 rounds if needed, and up to 8 appointed by the president; members serve 5-year terms); 3 ex-officio members elected by National Assembly membership

elections: last held on 12 August 2021 (next to be held in 2026)

election results: percent of vote by party - UPND 53.9%, PF 38.1%, PNUP 0.6%, independent 7.4%; seats by party - UPND 82, PF 62, PNUP 1, independent 11; composition - men 136, women 20, percent of women 13.5%; 156 seats filled; 

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice, deputy chief justice, and at least 11 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of the court president, vice president, and 11 judges); note - the Constitutional Court began operation in June 2016

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president of the republic upon the advice of the 9-member Judicial Service Commission, which is headed by the chief justice, and ratified by the National Assembly; judges normally serve until age 65

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; Industrial Relations Court; subordinate courts (3 levels, based on upper limit of money involved); Small Claims Court; local courts (2 grades, based on upper limit of money involved)

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Democracy and Development or ADD [Charles MILUPI]
Forum for Democracy and Development or FDD [Edith NAWAKWI]
Movement for Multiparty Democracy or MMD [Felix MUTATI]
National Democratic Congress or NDC [Chishimba KAMBWILI]
Patriotic Front or PF [Edgar LUNGU]
United Party for National Development or UPND [Hakainde HICHILEMA]
Party of National Unity and Progress or PNUP [Highvie HAMUDUDU]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OPCW, PCA, SADC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Lazarous KAPAMBWE (since 8 April 2020)

chancery: 2200 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 234-4009

FAX: [1] (202) 332-0826

email address and website:
info@zambiaembassy.org

https://www.zambiaembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Martin "Marty" DALE (since 2 November 2021)

embassy: Eastern end of Kabulonga Road, Ibex Hill, Lusaka

mailing address: 2310 Lusaka Place, Washington DC 20521-2310

telephone: [260] (0) 211-357-000

FAX: [260]  (0) 211-357-224

email address and website:
ACSLusaka@state.gov

https://zm.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

green field with a panel of three vertical bands of red (hoist side), black, and orange below a soaring orange eagle, on the outer edge of the flag; green stands for the country's natural resources and vegetation, red symbolizes the struggle for freedom, black the people of Zambia, and orange the country's mineral wealth; the eagle represents the people's ability to rise above the nation's problems

National symbol(s)

African fish eagle; national colors: green, red, black, orange

National anthem

name: "Lumbanyeni Zambia" (Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free)

lyrics/music: multiple/Enoch Mankayi SONTONGA

note: adopted 1964; the melody, from the popular song "God Bless Africa," is the same as that of Tanzania but with different lyrics; the melody is also incorporated into South Africa's anthem

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls

Economy

Economic overview

Zambia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the ten years up to 2014, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed during the period 2015 to 2017, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer. GDP growth picked up in 2017 as mineral prices rose.

 

Despite recent strong economic growth and its status as a lower middle-income country, widespread and extreme rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain significant problems, made worse by a high birth rate, a relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, by market-distorting agricultural and energy policies, and growing government debt. Zambia raised $7 billion from international investors by issuing separate sovereign bonds in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Concurrently, it issued over $4 billion in domestic debt and agreed to Chinese-financed infrastructure projects, significantly increasing the country’s public debt burden to more than 60% of GDP. The government has considered refinancing $3 billion worth of Eurobonds and significant Chinese loans to cut debt servicing costs.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$60.12 billion (2020 est.)

$61.99 billion (2019 est.)

$61.1 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 105

Real GDP growth rate

3.4% (2017 est.)

3.8% (2016 est.)

2.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 88

Real GDP per capita

$3,300 (2020 est.)

$3,500 (2019 est.)

$3,500 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 194

GDP (official exchange rate)

$25.71 billion (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

9.1% (2019 est.)

7.4% (2018 est.)

6.5% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 204

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: RD (2020)

Moody's rating: Ca (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: SD (2020)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 35.3% (2017 est.)

services: 57% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 52.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 21% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 27.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 43% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -44.9% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, cassava, maize, milk, vegetables, soybeans, beef, tobacco, wheat, groundnuts

Industries

copper mining and processing, emerald mining, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 54.8%

industry: 9.9%

services: 35.3% (2017 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 30.1%

male: 32.1%

female: 27.6% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 34

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.5%

highest 10%: 47.4% (2010)

Budget

revenues: 4.473 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 6.357 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

63.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

60.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.006 billion (2017 est.)

-$934 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

Exports

$8.55 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$8.26 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$9.98 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 105

Exports - partners

Switzerland 29%, China 16%, Namibia 12%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 9%, Singapore 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

copper, gold, gemstones, sulfuric acid, raw sugar, tobacco (2019)

Imports

$5.92 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$8.04 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$10.19 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 132

Imports - partners

South Africa 29%, China 14%, United Arab Emirates 12%, India 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, crude petroleum, delivery trucks, gold, fertilizers (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.082 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$2.353 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Debt - external

$11.66 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$9.562 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

Exchange rates

Zambian kwacha (ZMK) per US dollar -

21.065 (2020 est.)

15.3736 (2019 est.)

11.855 (2018 est.)

8.6 (2014 est.)

6.2 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 37% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 76% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 6% (2019)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 3.065 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 13,409,685,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 976 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 198 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1,811,480,000 kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 13% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 85.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 1.116 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 1.176 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 39,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 99,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 45 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 25,300 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 12,400 barrels/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

6.798 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 3.186 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 3.612 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 71,844 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2020 est.) less than 1

country comparison to the world: 146

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 17,220,600 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 96.41 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 64

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: following elections held in August 2021, the new government immediately established a Ministry of Technology and Science to promote the use of ICT in developing economic growth and social inclusion; this focus on ICT, and on telecoms in particular, has been central to government strategies for some years; as part of the Smart Zambia initiative, investment has been made in data centers, a computer assembly plant, ICT training centers, and a Smart Education program; these efforts have been combined with the extension of broadband access and improved connectivity to international submarine cables; in turn, this has resulted in a considerable reduction in fixed-line and mobile access pricing for end-users; mobile network operators continue to invest in 3G and LTE-based services, while the government also contracted Huawei to upgrade the state-owned mobile infrastructure for 5G services; delays in holding spectrum have stymied the development of 5G thus far; in mid-2021 the regulator completed a consultation of auctioning low, medium, and high band spectrum for 5G, aiming to provide sufficient spectrum to meet the anticipated increase in data traffic in coming years; fixed-line broadband services remain underdeveloped, though MTN Zambia has initiated an FttP program, initially in Lusaka. (2022)

domestic: fiber optic connections are available between most larger towns and cities with microwave radio relays serving more rural areas; 3G and LTE with FttX in limited urban areas and private Ku or Ka band VSAT terminals in remote locations; fixed-line teledensity less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular roughly 104 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 260; multiple providers operate overland fiber optic routes via Zimbabwe/South Africa, Botswana/Namibia and Tanzania provide access to the major undersea cables

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress towards 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

according to the Independent Broadcast Authority, there are 137 radio stations and 47 television stations in Zambia; out of the 137 radio stations, 133 are private (categorized as either commercial or community radio stations), while 4 are public-owned; state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) operates 2 television channels and 3 radio stations; ZNBC owns 75% shares in GoTV, 40% in MultiChoice, and 40% in TopStar Communications Company, all of which operate in-country

(2019)

Internet users

total: 3,676,791 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 20% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 102

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 82,317 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.5 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 8,904 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 75.08 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 8

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 80

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 53

under 914 m: 21 (2021)

Pipelines

771 km oil (2013)

Railways

total: 3,126 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 3,126 km (2014) 1.067-m gauge

note: includes 1,860 km of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)

country comparison to the world: 59

Roadways

total: 67,671 km (2018)

paved: 14,888 km (2018)

unpaved: 52,783 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 70

Waterways

2,250 km (2010) (includes Lake Tanganyika and the Zambezi and Luapula Rivers)

country comparison to the world: 40

Merchant marine

total: 2

by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 1 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 178

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Mpulungu (Zambezi)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Zambia Defense Force (ZDF): Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force, Zambia National Service; Defense Force Medical Service; Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security: Zambia Police (includes a paramilitary battalion) (2022)

note: the Zambia National Service is a support organization that also does public work projects

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $450 million)

1.4% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $470 million)

1.3% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $420 million)

country comparison to the world: 114

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 17,000 active troops (15,000 Army; 2,000 Air) (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ZDF's inventory is largely comprised of Chinese, Russian, and Soviet-era armaments; since 2010, China is the leading supplier of arms to Zambia (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age for male and female voluntary military service (16 with parental consent); no conscription; 12-year enlistment period (7 years active, 5 in the Reserves) (2021)

Military deployments

930 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (May 2022)

Military - note

the Zambian Defense Force (ZDF) traces its roots to the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, which was raised by the British colonial government to fight in World War II; the ZDF was established in 1964 from units of the dissolved Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland armed forces; it participated in a number of regional conflicts during the 1970s and 1980s; Zambia actively supported independence movements such as the Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA), the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), and the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Zambia-Angola: because the straight-line segments along the left bank (Zambian side) of the Cuando/Kwando River do not conform with the physical alignment of the unstable shoreline, Zambian residents in some areas have settled illegally on sections of shoreline that fall on the Angolan side of the boundary

Zambia-Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC):
boundary commission continues discussions over Congolese-administered triangle of land on the right bank of the Lunkinda River claimed by Zambia near the DRC village of Pweto

Zambia-Tanzania: some drug smuggling may take place across the Zambia-Tanzania border; there are no known current territorial issues, as both states have continued to recognize the colonial boundaries last modified in 1937; the boundary in Lake Tanganyika remains undefined.

Zambia-Zimbabwe: in 2004, Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river; in May 2021, Botswana and Zambia agreed in principle to let Zimbabwe be a partner in the bridge project as it enters its lasts phase

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 65,911 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers), 4,265 (Burundi) (2022)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Zambia and Zambians abroad; most trafficking occurs within Zambia’s borders, with traffickers exploiting women and children from rural areas in cities in domestic servitude or forced labor in agriculture, textile production, mining, construction, small businesses, such as bakeries, and forced begging; Jerabo gangs force Zambian children into illegal mining operations, such as loading stolen copper or crushing rocks; truck drivers exploit Zambian boys and girls in sex trafficking in towns along the Zimbabwean and Tanzanian borders, and miners exploit them in Solwezi; Zambian boys are exploited for sex trafficking in Zimbabwe and women and girls in South Africa; traffickers exploit victims from Tanzania and Malawi in the Zambian timber industry

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Zambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making efforts to do so; efforts included increasing law enforcement training, establishing two fast-track human trafficking courts, conducting awareness campaigns about human trafficking, slightly increasing prosecutions and convictions, and strengthening prison sentences given to traffickers; however; investigations of trafficking crimes and funding to shelters and other victim assistance programs decreased; authorities did not proactively screen for trafficking among vulnerable populations, including foreign nationals and those involved in commercial sex; authorities detained and deported potential trafficking victims involved in smuggling; the national inter-ministerial committee is weak in overseeing national anti-trafficking efforts and trends (2020)

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for moderate amounts of methaqualone, small amounts of heroin, and cocaine bound for southern Africa and possibly Europe; a poorly developed financial infrastructure coupled with a government commitment to combating money laundering make it an unattractive venue for money launderers; major consumer of cannabis