The Republic of Zambia is located in central Southern Africa. The country has no coast, and is surrounded by eight neighboring countries: Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, and Angola. Known as Northern Rhodesia from 1911 until independence in 1964, the country is named after the Zambezi River, meaning ‘God’s river’.
About 44% of Zambia’s population, including most expats, lives in urban areas, making it one of the most highly urbanized countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the country’s population is concentrated around the capital Lusaka in the south central part of the country and the Copperbelt Province in the north-west.
There are 72 ethnic groups represented in Zambia, the majority of which are Bantu-speaking. The expatriate population is mostly comprised of British and South African people, although nationals from many other countries are represented.
In recent years, several hundred dispossessed white Zimbabwean farmers have relocated to the southern province of Zambia, at the invitation of the Zambian government. There is also a large Asian population, predominately Indian and Chinese.
As a landlocked country, the easiest way to get to Zambia, particularly if you’re coming from further afield, is to fly. From the UK and the rest of Europe there are regular flights with British Airways, KLM, or with South African Airways, with a stopover in Johannesburg or another African hub. International flights arrive into Lusaka, Ndola, or Livingstone.
If you’re moving to Zambia from elsewhere in Africa, flying may again be the easiest option, unless you’re coming from one of Zambia’s bordering neighbors. There are main roads that connect Zambia with cities in neighboring countries, such as Harare in Zimbabwe and Lilongwe in Malawi. Caution should be taken if you choose to drive across the border.
Zambia has a predominantly tropical climate, although this changes in some areas due to elevation across the East African Plateau. Most of the country is classified as humid subtropical or tropical wet and dry.
Zambia has two distinctive seasons: the wet or rainy season from November to April, with temperatures up to 27°C, and the dry season from May/June to October/November, where the temperature can dip down to 15°C, depending on where you are.
The coolest time of the year is between May/June and August, although typically temperatures remain above 20°C across most of the country for more than eight months of the year. The winter months are extremely dry, often with almost no rainfall between June and August. Conversely, during the wet season, up to 300 mm of rain can fall in a month.