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Friday, May 7, 2010

Zambia


General reference map of Zambia depicting cities, neighboring countries, major lakes, and major rivers

Sandwiched between Lake Tanganyika to the north and the world-renown Victoria Falls in the south, the Republic of ZAMBIA is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Zambia’s bordering countries are Angola located to the west, Botswana to the southwest, Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east-southeast, Namibia to the southwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Zimbabwe to the southeast. The Zambia-Botswana border is essentially a point, where a tiny bit of southwestern Zambia meets northern Botswana. Subdivided into 100 Ngwee, Zambia's currency is the Zambian Kwacha, and its ISO currency code is ZMK.

 People and Places 
Based on the GeoFact of the Day Blog’s 2016 estimate, Zambia’s total population is approximately 12,060,000 and growing. Located in south-central Zambia less than 100 kilometers away from Zimbabwe, the capital and most-populated city is Lusaka with about 982,000 residents. Other Zambian cities include Chingola (170,000), Choma, Kabwe (population: 168,000), Kasama, Kitwe (247,000), Livingstone, Lundazi, Mbala, Ndola (377,000), Serenje, and Zambezi.

Zambians culturally identify themselves in over 70 ethnic groups of people — including the Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Ngoni, and Tonga ethnicities. While English is used as an official language by some citizens and for government purposes, Zambians speak about 70 native ethnic languages, many of which correspond to the namesake ethnic tribe. Major native languages include Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, and Tonga. At least one-half of religious citizens are Christian, while one-fourth of people are Hindu and Muslim adherents.

Protected and publically accessible national parks are scattered throughout the country. Parks in the northeastern “panhandle” include Isangano NP, Kasanka NP, Lavushi-Manda NP, Luangwa NP (split into north and south sections), Lukusuzi NP, Lusenga NP, Mweru-Wantipa NP, and Nsumbu NP. Other national parks include Blue Lagoon and Lochinvar national parks (south-central Zambia), the large Kafue NP (west-central Zambia), Liuwa Plain NP (west), Lower Zambezi NP (southeast), Sioma Ngwezi NP (southwest), and West Lunga NP (northwest).

 Land Features 
Aquatic and physical features in northern and eastern Zambia include the Bangweulu Swamp, Chisimba Falls, Johnston Falls, Lake Bangweulu with Mbabala island, Lake Mweru with Kilwa island, Muchinga Mountains, and Sunzu mountain (elevation: 2,067 meters). Zambians and tourists alike enjoy dramatic cliff views of the Wonder Gorge, located in east-central Zambia along the Lusemfwa River. About 150 kilometers west lies the Lukanga Swamp, home to various endangered species and undoubtedly many pesky mosquitoes! Kuyamba Hills are northwest of the swamp, while the Mufulwe Hills are northeast of Wonder Gorge.

What is the highest point in Zambia, you might (or might not) ask? Well, the answer is unfortunately not 100% clear. On the border between eastern Zambia and western Malawi, Mwanda Peak (elevation: about 2,150 meters, 7,050 feet) is known as the Zambia border's highest point. Near the town of Mkushi in north-central Zambia, Mount Mumpu (1,950 meters, 6,400 feet) is known as the country's highest free-standing mountain. Interestingly, one of the routes up Mt. Mumpu traverses through one of Southern Africa's largest bat caves. Ultimately, though, the highest point designation likely belongs to Mafinga Central (according to Peakbagger.com and other sources) — boasting an elevation of 2,339 meters and 7,674 feet. Could there be an even higher point in Zambia somewhere? That could be a mystery yearning to be solved!

The ridge-like Zambezi Escarpment protrudes from southern Zambia into northern Zimbabwe. Its location is north of Lake Kariba, which stretches along the southern border with Zimbabwe. West and east of Lake Kariba, the Zambezi River stretches completely along the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. Before reaching southern Zambia, Zambezi begins in eastern Angola (location of its headwaters), then flows southward past the town of Zambezi and eventually reaches the borders of Namibia and then Zimbabwe. Arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Zambia, the Victoria Falls are along the Zambezi river in southwestern Zambia, near Zimbabwe’s western tip (see map). Other waterfalls are highlighted in the GeoFact of the Day Blog’s Waterfalls of Zambia post (↗).

This post was comprehensively updated on August 25th, 2016.
The map of Zambia was added on June 18th, 2017.

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