740,720 sq km
African (98%): main ethnic groups are Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi and Tonga. Smaller groups include Ngoni, Lunda, Kaonde, Luvale and Asian (1%); European (1%)
English and over 70 indigenous languages
For independent travelers Zambia is still a challenge - distances are long,
and getting around takes persistence, particularly once you get off the main
routes. But for many people, the challenge is the main attraction. Without
a doubt, in Zambia you come pretty close to finding the 'real' Africa.
Landlocked Zambia is one of Africa's most eccentric legacies of colonialism. Shaped like a crumpled figure-eight, its borders don't correspond to any tribal or linguistic area. It's bordered by Angola to the west, the Congo (Zaïre) to the west and north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, and Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south. Zambia sits on an undulating plateau, sloping to the south. Areas of high ground include the Copper belt Highlands and the Nyika Plateau on the border with Malawi, which contains Mwanda Peak (2150 m / 7050 ft), the country's highest point. Zambia's main rivers are the Zambezi, which rises in the west of the country and forms the border between Zambia and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; the Kafue, which rises in the highlands between Zambia and the Congo (Zaïre); and the Luangwa, which flows from the north into the Zambezi.
Zambia's great wildlife parks are home to a very wide range of mammals and birds. Aside from the names like lions, elephants, hippos, buffalos, zebras and giraffes, commonly sighted species include warthogs, mongooses, honey badgers, baboons, African striped weasels and Lichtenstein's hartebeests. Zambia's varied bird life includes ostriches, hornbills, wood hoopoes and starlings. Most of Zambia is moist savannah woodland, where broadleaf deciduous trees grow far enough apart to allow grasses and other plants to grow on the woodland floor. In the north, bushveld covers much of the drier southwest. In drier areas, especially the valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa you see sprawling branches of stout baobab trees, some thousands of years old
The safari has come a long way since the days of mustachioed men with big guns and pith helmets; today you're much more likely to see giant telephoto lenses sticking out of a 4WD. Zambia has many excellent safari opportunities, mainly in its great national parks, with endless opportunities for photos. Most popular are wildlife-viewing tours by open-top vehicle. Unusual in Africa, night drives are also permitted, and open up a whole new world. Zambia is also famous for walking safaris, where you leave behind all modern trappings and follow an experienced ranger. Nothing beats being on foot in the African bush for sharpening the senses and heightening the wilderness experience! But it's not all big mammals - bird-watching is also superb in Zambia. Standing at the crossroad between east, central and Southern Africa, the country boasts a wide and varied range of species - well over 700 at the last count. All the major national parks (South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue) are excellent for bird-watching.