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Zambia: Zambia People Profile



Zambia is one of the majority highly urbanized nations in sub-Saharan Africa with 44% of the people concentrated in a few urban areas along the major transport corridors, while rural areas are sparsely populated. Unemployment and underemployment in urban areas are critical problems, while most rural Zambians are subsistence farmers. The people comprises approximately 72 ethnic groups, most of which are Bantu-speaking.

Almost 90% of Zambians belong to the nine major ethnolinguistic groups: the Nyanja-Chewa, Bemba, Tonga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya and Lozi. In the rural areas, each ethnic group is concentrated in a particular geographic region of the country and a lot of groups are very small and not as well known. However, all the ethnic groups can be found in significant numbers in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

Expatriates, mostly British or South African, inclunding some white Zambian citizens, live mainly in Lusaka and in the Copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are either employed in mines, financial and related activities or retired. There were 70,000 Europeans in Zambia in 1964, but a lot of have since left the country.Zambia as well has a small but economically significant Asian people, most of whom are Indians and Chinese. An estimated 80,000 Chinese are resident in Zambia.In recent years, several hundred dispossessed white farmers have left Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Zambian government, to take up farming in the Southern province.

According to the World Refugee Survey 2008 published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Zambia has a people of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 113,200. The majority of refugees in the country came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (55,400 refugees from the DRC living in Zambia in 2007), Angola (40,800; see Angolans in Zambia) and Rwanda (4,000)

Beginning in May 2008, the number of Zimbabweans in Zambia as well began to increase significantly; the influx consisted largely of Zimbabweans formerly living in South Africa who were fleeing xenophobic violence there.[18] Nearly 60,000 refugees live in camps in Zambia, while 50,000 are mixed in with the local populations. Refugees who wish to work in Zambia must apply for official permits which can cost up to $500 per year.





Population of major cities




  City Pop. 2000 Pop. 2010
1. Lusaka 1,084,703 1,460,566
2. Ndola 374,757 495,004
3. Kitwe 363,734 547,700
4. Kabwe, Broken Hill 176,758 215,015
5. Chingola 147,448 178,092
6. Mufulira 122,336 141,056
7. Luanshya 115,579 132 117
8. Livingstone 97,488 133,936
9. Kasama 74,243 111,588
10. Chipata, Ft. Jameson 73,110 109,344

The Europeans in the Colony numbered 14,000 at the 1931 census and the Africans 1,400,000, or just one hundred times as a lot of. Of the Europeans, additional than 10,000 had entered the country in the previous ten years, since the census in 1921 (mostly to work on the copper mines). In 1938 there were only eight doctors in all country.


The official language of Zambia is English, which is used to conduct official business and is the medium of instruction in schools. The major local language, particularly in Lusaka, is Nyanja. However, Bemba and Nyanja are spoken in the urban areas in addition to other indigenous languages which are commonly spoken in Zambia. These are: Ambo, Aushi, Bisa, Chikunda, Cishinga, Cokwe, Gova, Ila, Inamwanga, Iwa, Kabende, Kaonde, Kosa, Kunda, Kwandi, Kwandu, Kwangwa, Lala, Lamba, Lenje, Leya, Lima, Liyuwa, Lozi, Luano, Lucazi, Lumbu, Lunda, Lundwe, Lungu, Luunda, Luvale, Makoma, Mambwe, Mashasha, Mashi, Mbowe, Mbukushu, Mbumi, Mbunda, Mbwela, Mukulu, Mulonga, Ndembu, Ng\'umbo, Nkoya, Nsenga, Nyengo, Nyiha, Sala, Seba, Senga, Shanjo, Shila, Simaa, Soli, Subiya, Swaka, Tabwa, Tambo, Toka, Tonga, Totela, Tumbuka, Twa, Unga, Wandya and Yombe. Estimates of the total number of languages spoken in Zambia add up to 72,  thirteen (13) dialects are counted as languages in their own right which brings this number to 85.

The process of urbanisation has had a dramatic result on some of the indigenous languages, inclunding the assimilation of words from other indigenous languages and English. Urban dwellers sometimes differentiate between urban and rural dialects of the same language by prefixing the rural languages with \'deep\'. Most will thus speak Bemba and Nyanja on the Copperbelt while Nyanja is dominantly spoken in Lusaka and Eastern Zambia. English is used in official communications and is the chosen language at home part - presently common - intertribal families. If one does visit Zambia it becomes evident that language continuously evolves and has led to Zambian slang which can be heard in daily life throughout Lusaka and other major cities. As a member of the SADC, Portuguese was introduced in the country as an instruction in its primary school system, particularly that there is a strong Angolan people in the country.  Languages like Kaonde, Lunda, Luvale, and Tonga come from other country explorers.


Zambia is officially a Christian country according to the 1996 constitution, but a wide variety of religious traditions exist. Traditional religious thoughts blend easily with Christian beliefs in a lot of of the country\'s syncretic churches. Christian denominations include: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, New Apostolic Church, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah\'s Witnesses and a variety of Evangelical denominations. These grew, adjusted and prospered from the original missionary settlements (Portuguese and Catholicism in the east from Mozambique) and Anglicanism (English and Scottish influences) from the south. Except for some technical positions (e.g. physicians), Western missionary roles have been assumed by native believers. Next Frederick Chiluba (a Pentecostal Christian) became President in 1991, Pentecostal congregations expanded considerably around the country.

Approximately 87% of the people are Christians. Approximately 1% of the people are Muslims with most living in urban areas. There is as well a small Jewish community, composed mostly of Ashkenazis. Notable Jewish Zambians have included Simon Zukas, retired Minister, MP and a member of Forum for Democracy and Development and before on the MMD and United National Independence Party. Additionally, the economist Stanley Fischer, currently the governor of the Bank of Israel and formerly Deputy Managing Director of the IMF as well was born and partially raised in Zambia\'s Jewish community. The Baha\'i people of Zambia is over 160,000,  or 1.5% of the people. The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation run by the Baha\'i community is particularly active in areas such as literacy and primary health care.