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Geography

The Republic of Zambia is a land-locked state occupying elevated plateau country in south-central Africa. Zambia has an area of 752,614 square kilometres. The country is irregularly shaped, and shares a boundary with Zaire, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.

Demography

The total population was 8.3 million in 1992. The average annual population growth rate of 3.7% between 1980 and 1990 accelerated from 3% between 1965 and 1980. The urban population was 50% in 1990, 10% bigger than 10 years earlier. One-fifth of the population lives in the so-called Copper Belt, to the north of the capital Lusaka (982,000 inhabitants) and bordering the Shaba province of Zaire.

There are no fewer than 73 different ethnic groups in Zambia. Major groups are: the Bemba of the north-east; the Nyanja of the Eastern Province, also numerous in Lusaka; the Tonga of the Southern Province and Lozi of the west. Over 80 languages are spoken although English is the official language of the government and business.

95% of the relevant age group enrolled in primary school in 1989, of which 20% continued into secondary education. 2% of the 20-24 age group enrolled into higher education. The illiteracy rate was 27% in 1990 and the labour force was estimated at 3.8 million in the same year of which 350,000 were in the formal sector.

History and Political Situation

By 1890 the British South Africa Company (BSA) had obtained treaties and concessions from various African chiefs north of the Zambezi and occupied Southern Rhodesia south of the Zambezi. In 1924 the BSA transferred its administrative responsibilities in Northern Rhodesia to the British Colonial Office and a legislative council was established, from which Africans were effectively excluded. The first decade of colonial office rule witnessed the exploitation on a large scale of the mines generally known as the Copper Belt and by the mid-1930s the copper industry was firmly established.

In 1953 Northern Rhodesia formed the Central African Federation (CAF) with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). However, the demand for independence grew greater and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) was formed by Kenneth Kaunda. Following a massive campaign of civil disobedience organised by UNIP, the CAF was dissolved at the end of 1963.

Pre-independence elections, held in January 1964, enabled Kaunda to form an all-UNIP government. On 24 October, independence of the Republic of Zambia, with Kaunda as president, took effect. Kaunda maintained his position until 1991, although by then there were massive problems, triggered by declining copper prices, political unrest, and gross mismanagement of the economy.

Following Kaunda's announcement in 1990 permitting a multi-party system the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) headed by Frederic Chiluba and 11 other opposition movements were formed and in October 1991, presidential and legislative elections took place. In the presidential election Chiluba, who obtained 76% of the votes cast, defeated Kaunda, who obtained 24%. In the legislative election, the MMD secured 125 seats out of 150 in the national assembly, while UNIP won the remaining 25 seats.

Economy

Until 1975 Zambia was one of the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1938, the first date for which national income estimates are available, GDP grew at an astonishingly high rate of around 10% per annum. This wealth, and the development of infrastructure and public services which went with it, was founded on one export - copper. Copper and its by-products, mainly cobalt, account for 90% of Zambia's metal production. Metal mining has been providing about 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and until the early 1970s it contributed up to one-half of GDP.

Independence saw a process whereby the government socialised the structure of the economy. President Kaunda started to nationalise the foreign-dominated major private companies, while in the mining industry, two major copper mining groups, Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines and Roan Consolidated Mines, were merged as Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) in 1982, and transferred to the Ministry of Mines.

When the copper price slumped in 1975, so did the rest of the economy. Zambia was left with a legacy of debt, foreign exchange shortages, little investment and falling output. To add to the country's problems, copper reserves were declining rapidly. The next 14 years saw a succession of failed recovery plans. In parallel with the austerity programme started in 1983 with IMF backing, the government embarked on a series of measures to restructure the economy. Early emphasis on import substitution industries was later replaced by incentives to develop exporters and the agricultural sector received new encouragement. However, the most serious obstacle to reform was Mr. Kaunda himself, who to the end was reluctant to relinquish his socialist vision, and must be credited for impoverishing virtually single-handed one of the richest countries in Africa.

Soon after President Chiluba took office, his predecessor's policy was reversed. Subsidies were cut, the kwacha was soon to be further devalued and the agricultural marketing system liberalised. ZCCM is likely to be privatised along with more than 150 state-owned enterprises. 1992 was a bad year for Zambia. GDP declined 10% as a result of the worst drought in decades, the inflation rate is still high and money supply out of control. Further painful reforms lie ahead and the impact on Zambia's social and political fabric will be severe. However, the Chiluba administration has clearly breathed new life into the Zambian economy, and while it is still early days, the new government seems to be embarking on a course of structural economic reform which has generally been successful in Latin America. As elsewhere, much will depend on its will to push through unpopular measures and to follow a consistent policy.

Soon after President Chiluba took office, his predecessor's policy was reversed. Subsidies were cut, the kwacha was soon to be further devalued and the agricultural marketing system liberalised. ZCCM is likely to be privatised along with more than 150 state-owned enterprises. 1992 was a bad year for Zambia. GDP declined 10% as a result of the worst drought in decades, the inflation rate is still high and money supply out of control. Further painful reforms lie ahead and the impact on Zambia's social and political fabric will be severe. However, the Chiluba administration has clearly breathed new life into the Zambian economy, and while it is still early days, the new government seems to be embarking on a course of structural economic reform which has generally been successful in Latin America. As elsewhere, much will depend on its will to push through unpopular measures and to follow a consistent policy.

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