The population of Zambia is around 19.47 million people (2021).

Official language

English is the official language of Zambia.

Languages Spoken

Although English is the official language, the latest census indicated that Zambia's most widely spoken languages are Bemba (spoken by 35% of the population), Nyanja or Chewa (20%), Tonga (12%) and Lozi (6%). An urban variety of Nyanja (Chewa) is the common language of the capital, Lusaka, used for communication between speakers of different languages.


Zambia has a diverse religious landscape. The majority of Zambians are Christians (95.5%), with various Protestant denominations as the largest religious group. The Catholic Church is also present in Zambia, and there are significant numbers of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the New Apostolic Church. In addition to Christianity, there are also smaller communities of Muslims, Hindus, Baha'is and members of indigenous African religions. There are also some people who do not affiliate with any religion.

National Holiday

Zambia’s National Day is celebrated on October 24th and honours independence from the UK on this day in 1964.

Holiday Schedule

January 1: New Year’s Day

March 8: International Women’s Day

March 12: Youth Day

Late March to Early April: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday

April 28: Birthday of Kenneth Kaunda

May 1: Labour Day

May 25: Africa Day

First Monday in July: Heroes’ Day

Tuesday following Heroes’ Day: Unity Day

First Monday in August: Farmers’ Day

October 18: National Prayer Day

October 24: Independence Day

December 25: Christmas Day


The area now known as Zambia has a long and complex history. The earliest known inhabitants of the region were hunter-gatherers who lived there for thousands of years. In the 4th century AD, Bantu-speaking tribes began migrating into the region from the north and east, bringing with them agriculture and ironworking skills. During the 19th century, the region was dominated by the powerful Kingdom of the Lozi people, which controlled much of what is now western Zambia. Other kingdoms also emerged in the region, including the Lunda Empire in the north and the Chewa Kingdom in the east. In the late 19th century, European explorers and missionaries began to arrive in the area and in the 1890s, the British South Africa Company - led by Cecil Rhodes - began to establish control over what is now Zambia. The area was initially part of the British colony of Rhodesia, but in 1911 became the separate state of Northern Rhodesia. During the 1950s and 60s, nationalist movements emerged in Northern Rhodesia, calling for independence from British colonial rule. The country gained independence in 1964 and Kenneth Kaunda became the first president of the new Republic of Zambia. After independence, Zambia faced a number of challenges, including economic difficulties and political instability. In the 1970s, Kaunda implemented socialist policies and nationalized many industries, but this approach did not lead to significant economic growth. In the 1990s, Zambia transitioned to a multiparty democracy and began implementing economic reforms.


Zambia is a presidential representative democratic republic, with the President serving as both the head of state and head of government. The government is divided into three branches: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The executive branch is led by the President, who is elected to a five-year term and responsible for appointing ministers and other top government officials. The Cabinet, which consists of the President and the ministers, is responsible for developing and implementing government policies. The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the Zambian government and is composed of 156 members who are elected to five-year terms. The National Assembly is responsible for passing laws and overseeing government policies. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice and is responsible for interpreting the law and adjudicating legal disputes. The Zambian legal system is based on English common law and customary law.

Zambia has made progress in implementing economic and political reforms since the 1990s, including privatising many state-owned enterprises, liberalising trade and investment, and strengthening democratic institutions. However, the country still faces challenges related to corruption, poverty and political instability, and there have been concerns about restrictions on freedom of speech and the press in recent years. The Zambian government has prioritised social and economic development, with a focus on reducing poverty, improving health and education outcomes, and promoting economic growth. The government has also launched initiatives to promote gender equality and reduce gender-based violence, as well as efforts to address climate change and protect the environment.

Food and Drink

In Zambia, food is not just a source of sustenance, but also a celebration of culture and community. From the vibrant bustling markets to the warm family dinner table, the flavours and aromas of Zambian cuisine are an experience for the senses. The staple food of Zambia is nshima, a thick, white porridge made from maize flour and forms the backbone of many meals in Zambia. It's often served with savoury stews made from meat or vegetables, including a tasty dish called chikanda (a stew made from ground peanuts and wild tubers). For those with a sweet tooth, Zambia offers a range of delicious desserts. Be sure to get a taste of munkoyo (a sweet and tangy drink made from the fermented roots of the munkoyo tree) and makopa, a dessert made from boiled guava fruit. To quench your thirst after all this delicious food, sip on matebeto, a cold and sweet drink made from hibiscus flowers, or thobwa which is a traditional drink made from maize and water, often flavoured with ginger and lemon.

But what truly sets Zambian cuisine apart is its emphasis on communal dining. Meals are often shared with friends and family, and the act of eating together is seen as a symbol of unity and respect. Whether you're trying a new dish at a local market or savouring a home-cooked meal, food in Zambia is more than just fuel for the body - it's a celebration of life and community.

Contact one of our Zambia specialists