Photos of Zambia



Bantu-speaking groups mainly from the Luba and Lunda Kingdoms in the Congo River Basin and from the Great Lakes region in East Africa settled in what is now Zambia beginning around A.D. 300, displacing and mixing with previous population groups in the region. The Mutapa Empire developed after the fall of Great Zimbabwe to the south in the 14th century and ruled the region, including large parts of Zambia, from the 14th to 17th century. The empire collapsed as a result of the growing slave trade and Portuguese incursions in the 16th and 17th centuries. The region was further influenced by migrants from the Zulu Kingdom to the south and the Luba and Lunda Kingdoms to the north after invading colonial and African powers displaced local residents into the area around the Zambezi River, in what is now Zambia. In the 1880s, British companies began securing mineral and other economic concessions from various local leaders. The companies eventually claimed control of the region and incorporated it as the protectorate of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. The UK Government took over administrative control from the British South Africa Company in 1924. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred British economic ventures and colonial settlement. 

Northern Rhodesia’s name was changed to Zambia upon independence from the UK in 1964 under independence leader and first President Kenneth KAUNDA. 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.

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

Geographic coordinates

15 00 S, 30 00 E


total: 752,618 sq km

land: 743,398 sq km

water: 9,220 sq km

comparison ranking: total 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


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


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


mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains


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)

People and Society


20,216,029 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 63


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.)


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


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% annually between 2000 and 2010, and reaching over 3.3% in 2022. 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: 42.49% (male 4,334,425/female 4,255,464)

15-64 years: 54.77% (male 5,529,526/female 5,541,857)

65 years and over: 2.74% (2023 est.) (male 250,984/female 303,773)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 81.8

youth dependency ratio: 78.7

elderly dependency ratio: 3.2

potential support ratio: 31.6 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 18.2 years (2023 est.)

male: 18 years

female: 18.4 years

comparison ranking: total 218

Population growth rate

2.86% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 12

Birth rate

34.5 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 16

Death rate

6 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 158

Net migration rate

0.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 78

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


urban population: 46.3% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

3.181 million LUSAKA (capital), 763,000 Kitwe (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.2 years (2018 est.)

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

Maternal mortality ratio

135 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 56

Infant mortality rate

total: 36.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 39.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 32.8 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 38

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.6 years (2023 est.)

male: 64.9 years

female: 68.4 years

comparison ranking: total population 199

Total fertility rate

4.49 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 18

Gross reproduction rate

2.21 (2023 est.)

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.)

Current health expenditure

5.6% of GDP (2020)

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 (2023)

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

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

note: on 31 August 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Zambia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

8.1% (2016)

comparison ranking: 155

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.82 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.26 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.04 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.36 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 2.16 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 98

Tobacco use

total: 14.4% (2020 est.)

male: 25.1% (2020 est.)

female: 3.7% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 107

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.8% (2018/19)

comparison ranking: 46

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 5.2%

women married by age 18: 29%

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

Education expenditures

3.7% of GDP (2020)

comparison ranking: 131


definition: age 15 and over can read and write English

total population: 86.7%

male: 90.6%

female: 83.1% (2018)


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


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.)


urban population: 46.3% of total population (2023)

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

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to reduced incomes and localized shortfalls in cereal production - cereal production declined to a below‑average level in 2022 and along with the impact of rising food prices, the number of food insecure is foreseen to increase at the end of 2022 to levels above the 1.6 million people estimated in the first quarter of 2022 (2022)

Revenue from forest resources

4.45% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 15

Revenue from coal

0.04% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 33

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 16.9 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 5.14 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 14.1 megatons (2020 est.)

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 (2020 est.)

industrial: 130 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 1.15 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

104.8 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)


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


name: Lusaka

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


24 October 1964 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 October (1964)


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 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


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

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

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (167 seats statutory, 166 seats current; 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 as of February 2024 - men 142, women 25, percent of women 15%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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 [Dr. Nevers MUMBA]
Party of National Unity and Progress or PNUP [Highvie HAMUDUDU]
Patriotic Front or PF [Edgar LUNGU]
United Party for National Development or UPND [Hakainde HICHILEMA]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Chibamba KANYAMA (since 30 June 2023)

chancery: 2200 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 234-4009

FAX: [1] (202) 332-0826

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael C. GONZALES (since 16 September 2022)

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:

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


Economic overview

lower middle-income Sub-Saharan economy; major copper exporter; high public debt is held mostly by China; systemic corruption; one of youngest and fastest growing labor forces; regional hydroelectricity exporter; extreme rural poverty

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$67.377 billion (2022 est.)
$64.016 billion (2021 est.)
$60.259 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 104

Real GDP growth rate

5.25% (2022 est.)
6.23% (2021 est.)
-2.79% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 68

Real GDP per capita

$3,400 (2022 est.)
$3,300 (2021 est.)
$3,200 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 188

GDP (official exchange rate)

$29.164 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

10.99% (2022 est.)
22.02% (2021 est.)
15.73% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 169

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: RD (2020)

Moody's rating: Ca (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: SD (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 35.3% (2017 est.)

services: 57% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 143; industry 46; agriculture 106

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


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

Industrial production growth rate

-2.23% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 192

Labor force

6.827 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 68

Unemployment rate

4.37% (2022 est.)
5.2% (2021 est.)
6.03% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 88

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 26.1% (2021 est.)

male: 26.7%

female: 25.4%

comparison ranking: total 59

Population below poverty line

54.4% (2015 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

55.9 (2015 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 3

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.1%

highest 10%: 43.5% (2015 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


0.83% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.08% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.74% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $4.758 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $7.044 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-7.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 195

Public debt

71.41% of GDP (2021 est.)
103.7% of GDP (2020 est.)
61.93% of GDP (2019 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 52

Taxes and other revenues

16.78% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 116

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$1.067 billion (2022 est.)
$2.63 billion (2021 est.)
$2.174 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 47


$12.444 billion (2022 est.)
$11.728 billion (2021 est.)
$8.558 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 104

Exports - partners

Switzerland 32%, China 14%, Namibia 12%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 9%, Singapore 8% (2020)

Exports - commodities

copper, gold, gemstones, tobacco, cement (2020)


$10.022 billion (2022 est.)
$7.691 billion (2021 est.)
$5.836 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 123

Imports - partners

South Africa 31%, China 16%, United Arab Emirates 9%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 6%, India 5% (2020)

Imports - commodities

copper, petroleum, fertilizers, packaged medicines, delivery trucks (2020)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.968 billion (2022 est.)
$2.754 billion (2021 est.)
$1.203 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 131

Debt - external

$11.66 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$9.562 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 109

Exchange rates

Zambian kwacha (ZMK) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
16.938 (2022 est.)
20.018 (2021 est.)
18.344 (2020 est.)
12.89 (2019 est.)
10.458 (2018 est.)


Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) 12 million

electrification - total population: 46.6% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 85.7% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 14.5% (2021)


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.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 106; transmission/distribution losses 123; imports 103; exports 62; consumption 86

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.)


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.)


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

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

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

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

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

Refined petroleum products - production

13,120 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 98

Refined petroleum products - exports

371 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 113

Refined petroleum products - imports

10,150 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 149

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.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 127

Energy consumption per capita

11.595 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 149


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 96,284 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2021 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 135

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 20 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 100 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 62

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, the government contracted 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 (2022)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular is 100 per 100 (2021)

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

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


Internet users

total: 3.99 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 21% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 109

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 82,317 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.5 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 131


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


119 (2024)

comparison ranking: 44


4 (2024)


771 km oil (2013)


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)

comparison ranking: total 57


total: 67,671 km

paved: 10,150 km

unpaved: 57,520 km (2021)

comparison ranking: total 73


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

comparison ranking: 39

Merchant marine

total: 2 (2023)

by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 1

comparison ranking: total 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) (2024)

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

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 111

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 17,000 active troops (15,000 Army; 2,000 Air) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ZDF's inventory is largely comprised of Chinese, Russian, and Soviet-era armaments; in recent years, leading suppliers have included China and Italy (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age (17 with parental consent) for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription; 12-year enlistment period (7 years active, 5 in the Reserves) (2023)

note: Zambia had military conscription from 1975-1980

Military deployments

925 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2023)

Military - note

the Zambia Defense Forces (ZDF) are responsible for preserving the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; it also has some domestic security responsibilities in cases of national emergency; border security and support to African and UN peacekeeping operations are priorities; the ZDF is part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Standby Force and participates in multinational training exercises; it has received training assistance from China and the US

the Army’s principal combat forces are three light infantry brigades, supported by armored and artillery regiments; it also has a maritime patrol unit to provide security for the country’s lakes and rivers; the Air Force has small numbers of mostly Chinese-made combat aircraft and helicopters 

the 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) (2023)

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): 8,436 (Burundi) (2023); 62,660 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2024)

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