25 interesting facts about Zambia

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The most interesting facts about Zambia, from the world’s largest curtain of falling water to near-blind rats that can sense magnetic fields.

Interesting facts about Zambia include the spectacular Victoria Falls
Interesting facts about Zambia include the spectacular Victoria Falls (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Zambia
Capital city: Lusaka
Population: 17,426,623
Area: 752,618 sq km
Major languages: English, Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga
Time zone: UTC+2 (Central Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Zambia

1. Zambia is a landlocked country located in Africa. A landlocked nation is enclosed by land with no access to the open sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries and five partially recognised nations in the world.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

2. In 1921, the Broken Hill skull was discovered in Zambia. Estimated to be about 299,000 years, the skull is one of the best-preserved fossils of an ancient human species called Homo heidelbergensis.
– Source: Natural History Museum

3. It is believed that modern humans, Homo sapiens, have inhabited the region since 20,000 BC.
– Source: Britannica

4. During the 12th Century, the Shona people arrived in the area and established the empire of the Mwene Mutapa, which included southern Zambia.
– Source: BBC News

5. During the 16th Century, people from the Luba and Lunda empires of Zaire (modern-day DR Congo) set up small kingdoms in Zambia.
– Source: BBC News

6. Zambia has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations with the UN projecting that its population will triple by 2050 from 13 million in 2011.
– Source: BBC News

Zambian woman with children
Zambia has one of the world’s fastest-growing population (Shutterstock)

7. In 1889, Britain established control over Zambia calling it Northern Rhodesia after a man called Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes and his British South Africa Company used a British mandate to lead the colonisation of Zambia and Zimbabwe during the 19th century.
– Source:BBC News, The Guardian

8. In 1964, Northern Rhodesia gained independence and was renamed Zambia, ending 73 years of British rule.
– Source: New York Times

9. Zambia’s first post-independence leader was President Kenneth Kaunda who ruled the country for 27 years from 1964 to 1991.
– Source: Britannica

10. Unlike many of its neighbours in the region, Zambia has managed to avoid war and upheaval that has marked many African nations’ post-colonial years. As such, Zambia ahs earned a reputation for political stability.
– Source: BBC News

11. In Zambia, it’s possible to see the celebrated ‘big five’ game animals of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.
– Source: National Geographic

A leopard in Zambia
A leopard in Zambia (Shutterstock)

12. Zambia boasts 20 national parks and reserves, 34 Game Management Areas and protects over 30% of its land.
– Source: Bainbridge et al. (2010) Southern Africa. Lonely Planet: London

13. It’s thought that Zambia has more than 70 languages, although many of them are considered dialects. Other than English, all of Zambia’s major languages are members of the Bantu family.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

14. Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer after DR Congo and the world’s seventh-largest.
– Source: Reuters, Statista

15. Zambia’s flag has a green background with an orange eagle and vertical stripes of red, black and orange at the fly end. The green symbolises agriculture, red is for the freedom struggle, black for the African people and orange for copper. The eagle symbolises freedom and the ability of the Zambian people to rise above national problems.
– Source: Britannica

16. The African fish eagle depicted in the flag is also Zambia’s national symbol.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Zambia's flag
Zambia’s flag (Shutterstock)

17. Zambia is home to the UNESCO-listed Victoria Falls – the world’s largest curtain of falling water. The falls span the entire breadth of the Zambezi River at more than 1,700m wide and drop approximately 108m. Zambia shares the falls with Zimbabwe.
– Source: UNESCO

18. The falls were named in 1855 after the British Queen Victoria, by Scottish explorer David Livingstone. They are known locally by the Kalolo-Lozi people as Mosi-oa-Tunya, ‘the smoke that thunders.’
– Source: National Geographic

19. In 2019, the Victoria Falls diminished to just a trickle of water following the worst drought in the region for a century.
– Source: The Guardian

20. The Victoria Falls are home to the Devil’s Pool, a natural pool that can be safely swum in during the dry season. At first glance, the pool looks extremely dangerous but due to an underwater lip, it’s actually quite safe.
– Source: National Geographic

A man jumps into the Devil's Pool
A man jumps into the Devil’s Pool (Shutterstock)

21. Zambia is also home to the second-highest waterfall in Africa after the Tugela Falls in South Africa. At 221m, Kalambo Falls is twice as high as Victoria Falls.
– Source: Lonely Planet

22. Zambia is part-home to the world’s largest artificial lake by volume. Lake Kariba lies on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and has a water capacity of 180 km3.
– Source: Plos One (Journal)

23. Zambia is home to the near-blind species of Ansell’s mole-rats which can sense magnetic fields with their eyes according to a recent study. The mole-rats also live in complex underground tunnel systems of up to 2.8km (1.7mi) long.
– Source: The Guardian

24. Zambia’s name derives from the Zambezi River, which flows through the western part of the country and forms its southern border with Zimbabwe.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

The Zambezi River
The Zambezi River (Shutterstock)

25. In 2017, Zambia’s planning minister announced plans to move the country’s capital city from Lusaka in the south of the country to a village called Ngabwe. Ngabwe, located in the centre of the country, has no proper roads or infrastructure and frequently floods. As of 2020, the capital remains in Lusaka.
– Source: The Times (paywall)

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Zambia. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.