Located in southeastern Africa, Zambia is a landlocked country bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
For centuries, Zambia remained largely unexplored by Western powers. In the mid-19th century, famed British explorer David Livingstone was the first European to reach the Zambezi River's majestic waterfalls, which he later renamed Victoria Falls. Thirty years later, in 1888, Northern and Southern Rhodesia — named for their colonizer Cecil Rhodes — became part of the British sphere of influence.
Zambia is split into nine provinces. Lusaka is the capital city. The country is 35 percent urban and has more than 70 ethnic groups. Many of the groups speak Bantu, an African language, but the official language is English.
Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia was renamed for the Zambezi River after gaining independence from Great Britain in 1964. For its first years of independence, Zambia was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, mainly due to its copper exports. But the copper market crashed in the mid-1970s, and as a result, Zambia is now one of the poorest countries in the world.
The current president is Levy Mwanawasa, who was reelected to a second term in September 2006, despite his opponent's accusations of corruption.
The face of HIV
The first AIDS case in Zambia was diagnosed in 1984. Urban areas have infection rates two to four times as high as in rural areas. According to a study by the University of California, San Francisco, the disease is primarily transmitted by heterosexual intercourse, but mother-to-child transmission accounts for 30,000 new infections a year.
The study estimates that AIDS will reduce the life expectancy of a Zambian by 26 to 39 percent through 2050. By the same year, a cumulative 6.2 million people in Zambia will have died of AIDS-related deaths.