Zambia

Land and People

Zambia is largely made up of a highland plateau, which rises in the east. The elevation there ranges from c.3,000 to 5,000 ft (915–1,520 m), and higher altitudes are attained in the Muchinga Mts., where Zambia's highest point (c.7,120 ft/2,170 m) is located. Also in E Zambia are Lake Bangweulu, parts of lakes Mweru and Tanganyika, and the Luangwa and Chambeshi rivers. The Zambezi River drains much of the western part of the country (where the elevation is c.1,500–3,000 ft/460–910 m) and forms a large part of Zambia's southern boundary. The impressive Victoria Falls and the huge Lake Kariba (formed by Kariba Dam), both on the border with Zimbabwe, are part of the Zambezi in the south. The Kafue River drains W central Zambia, including the Copperbelt in the north. There are several large swamps, or flats, in Zambia, which are noted for their concentration of wildlife. The country also has numerous national parks, but their emphasis is on tourism rather than preservation. In addition to Lusaka, other cities include Chingola, Kabwe, Kitwe, Livingstone, Luanshya, Mufulira, Nchanga, Ndola, and Nkana.

The country's population is made up almost entirely of members of several Bantu ethnic and linguistic groups. English is the official language, and approximately 75 African languages and dialects are spoken, including Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, and Tonga. Some 50% to 75% of the population is Christian, while Muslims and Hindus make up between 24% and 49%; a small percentage follow traditional African beliefs. The greatest population density is found in the Copperbelt and the central provinces.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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