The first inhabitants of Zambia were hunters and gatherers of Khoisan background. Approximately 2,000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people from the Congo basin came to Zambia, resulting in the displacement of the Khoisan people who were already settled in the region. From the 14th century onwards, people continued to emigrate from the Congo to Zambia and spread out throughout the country. By the 16th century, the various groups of people who had come to occupy the region formed powerful tribes.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to make contact with Zambians by following early slave routes. Scottish explorer David Livingstone travelled up the Zambezi with the goal of finding a route into the interior of Africa. In 1885 he came across the incredible waterfalls that he would go on to name Victoria Falls. Many people were inspired by Livingstone’s work and as a result, they decided to come to the country. Missionaries, explorers, hunters and prospectors came to see what they could discover on this relatively undiscovered land.
The region was administered by the British South African Company owned by Cecil John Rhodes, and in 1890, it became known as Northern Rhodesia. After copper was discovered in what is now known as “the Copper Belt”, many Africans were forced to work the pits, with a great deal being forced from their lands by European settlers coming to take advantage of the new discovery. Northern Rhodesia came fully under British control in 1924.
Northern Rhodesia was not exempt from the waves of nationalism that hit the African continent during the 20th century. In Northern Rhodesia, it culminated in the establishment of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) in the late 1950s by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. By 1964, Northern Rhodesia was granted independence and the name of the country was changed to Zambia. Dr. Kaunda became the first president and from that position, he ruled for the next twenty-seven years. This was largely in part because he declared all other parties except for the UNIP as illegal rendering him the only presidential candidate.
Zambia’s economy suffered greatly due to government corruption as well as the effect that civil wars in neighbouring nations had on the country. The demand for multiparty elections was high, culminating in street protests. These elections happened in 1991 and Frederick Chiluba, leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) was elected.
In 2001, Levy Mwanawasa was elected as the country’s third president. Mwanawasa worked to clean up Zambia’s poor economy and supported an investigation of Chiluba for charges of corruption. Zambia greatly benefitted from the Western debt relief programme in 2005 which saw a great deal of their foreign debt erased. The nation still faces many financial challenges, yet the future is promising with the World Bank naming it one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries.
Many people have described Zambia as being the “real Africa”, remaining truly African, developing without becoming Westernised. Tourists come from around the world to see the magnificent Victoria Falls and to experience a real African walking safari. For travelers looking to enjoy a true diamond in the rough destination, they need look no further than incredible and natural Zambia.
Zambia Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Zambia.
Learn about the history and culture of Zambia, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Zambia's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Zambia for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Zambia tours & safaris today!
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