Some 85% of Zambians work the country's relatively infertile soil as subsistence farmers; commercial agriculture is mostly confined to a small number of large farms. The leading crops are corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava, and coffee. Cattle, goats, pigs, and poultry are raised. There is a small fishing industry.
The mining and refining of copper constitutes by far the largest industry in the country and is concentrated in the cities of the Copperbelt. Cobalt, zinc, lead, emeralds, gold, silver, coal, and uranium are also mined. Industries include food and beverage processing, construction, horticulture, and the manufacture of chemicals, textiles, and fertilizer. Most of Zambia's energy is supplied by hydroelectric plants, especially the one at Kariba Dam.
Copper, cobalt, electricity, emeralds, tobacco, flowers, and cotton are the main exports. The principal imports are machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer, foodstuffs, and clothing. The leading trade partners are South Africa, Switzerland, and Great Britain.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.