Zambia is a landlocked independent republic which is situated in south- central Africa to the east of Angola and forms part of the Southern African region. The capital city is Lusaka. Other major cities are Ndola and Kitwe.
More than 80 languages are spoken although the official language is English. Zambia has a market-based economy in which the public sector is still active. However, an extensive programme to privatise state-owned enterprises has begun. Zambia has a small but active stock exchange in Lusaka. The local currency is the Kwacha. (US$ / Kw – current exchange rate).
Zambia is rich in mineral resources and its mining industry is its dominant sector and major earner of foreign exchange. Metal exports make up about three-quarters of Zambia’s export earnings. The economy was severely damaged by the fall in the copper price and the oil shocks of the early 1970s. Since then per capita income has declined steadily. Since the early 1990s, the government has implemented reforms to deregulate prices and eliminate subsidies. The copper industry was largely privatised in late 1999. Also, the exchange rate and interest rates are no longer fixed by the government. Barriers to trade have also been reduced.
These reforms have had limited success, however, due to the continued fall in the copper price and bad performance by copper mines. This has been compounded by drought and reduction in foreign aid following concern regarding the management of the economy. In late 1999, however, several European countries and organisations cancelled large amounts of Zambia’s outstanding debt, showing confidence in the country’s new economic policies. In 1999 cobalt prices rose as a result of a world shortage of the metal.
Zambia has large amounts of arable land, most of which has not yet been cultivated. Many farms were abandoned under the Kaunda government, however crops such as coffee, tobacco, cotton and sugar are being grown again. Flowers and vegetables are also grown commercially in Zambia.
The Zambian oil industry is another important element in the economy of the country. While there have been no discoveries of oil or gas reserves, the Indeni Refinery in Ndola provides most of the petroleum products required by the local market and for export. Until 1999, the parastatal Zambian Oil Company (Zimco) was responsible for the management and the production and supply of fuel products to Zambia. The government has since developed several licenses for the importation and distribution of petroleum products. The downstream oil industry is also well developed with 5 international oil companies active in the country. In addition to its oil industry, Zambia has an active chemicals industry.
The international time zone for Zambia is GMT +2 and the international dialling code for Zambia is +260. The principal airlines which fly to Zambia are Air Zambia, South African Airways and a number of other African airways. There is an international airport at Lusaka. As at September 1995 most visitors to Zambia require visas except nationals of Commonwealth countries, Ireland and Sweden. Most Commonwealth nationals, members of the EEC and American citizens can obtain visas at the port of entry. Other visitors must obtain their visas before entering Zambia. Visas last for 90 days. Investors investing more than US$ 250000 or employing more than 10 people are entitled to a resident or self-employed permit.
Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever (regional) and schistosomiasis (bilharzia) may be contracted while travelling in Zambia. Travellers should be aware that advance payment for medical services may be required. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers together with the prescription. Vaccinations should be obtained before entering Zambia.