Zambia is one of the larger countries in southern Africa. Once known for its large copper mining industry, the country is also gaining reputation as a safari destination. Numerous reserves dot the landscape offering visitors the chance to view animals in an environment untouched by man and far removed from the vagrancies of civilisation,
The 11.7 million inhabitants of Zambia are a diverse group of different ethnic origins. While there are at least 72 different ethnic groups living in Zambia, the vast majority of them are of Bantu descent. Amongst them are groups of expatriates, mostly of British and South African origin, and Asians, mostly Indian and Chinese, that play an important economic role. Recently the Zambian government has invited white farmers, forced from their farms in Zimbabwe, to farm the southern areas of the country.
The 'Zambian culture' is a diverse conglomeration of various cultures that have been forced together through circumstance. Almost 44% of the country's population live in the urban areas with rural peoples mainly focused on subsistence farming. This urbanisation has created a culture where local groups have evolved into a single 'culture' with a dash of European influence.
One of the effects of this conglomeration is that English is the official language of Zambia. Throughout the country, 72 other various languages and dialects are spoken, but even in the most rural areas visitors will be able to find someone that speaks English.
The landscape of Zambia is as diverse as its people and history. It is a landlocked country that is made of high plateaus, hills, river valleys and vast floodplains. The western part of the country is broad and flat that flood during the rainy season turning the area in a rich, lush swampland. The eastern region is a vast plateau that gradually rises from as low as 900 metres above sea level to nearly 1 800 metres. The highest point, in the Muchingwa Mountains, the Mumpu peak reaches 1 892 metres into the air.
Zambia is a tropical country modified by its high elevation. The higher altitude of many parts of the country gives the country a sub tropical climate rather than a tropical climate, with mostly warm days throughout the year. As with many African, equatorial countries, there are few differences between the seasons in Zambia. For the most part the country has two 'seasons'.
These 'seasons' are essentially the dry season and the wet season. The dry season equates to winter and stretches from May to October. In some parts of the country, notably the north, the dry season can be divided into he hot dry season of September and October and the cold dry season in June and August. The wet season equates to summer and stretches from November to April. This season is marked by frequent afternoon thunderstorms and flooding.
One of the advantages of Zambia's urbanisation is the large amounts of land that have been left uninhabited. While rural communities do exist, their impact on the land is minimal since most of the people only engage in subsistence farming. With so much untouched by civilisation, visitors have the opportunity to see the wildlife of Africa in an environment that almost as natural as they are likely to find anywhere in the world.
While rhinoceroses are rare, some black rhinoceroses have been reintroduced into the wild. This makes Zambia a destination where the Big 5 is likely to be spotted along with other iconic African animals like giraffes, warthogs, baboons and many more. Along with the variety of accommodation available – from 5 star lodges to simple bush camps – Zambia can offer visitors an unparalleled safari experience.
From the high plateaus to the broad floodplains to the bustling cities, Zambia has something to offer all who visit her.