Home | Facts on Zambia | Zambia History

Zambia History

Original Zambian people included Khoisan, then later Tonga, Ngoni, Sotho, Nsokolo, Mbunda and Nkoya

Painting of David Livingstone peering of the edge of the Victoria Falls on present-day Livingstone Island

A painting of David Livingstone at the edge of the Victoria Falls

Long before European explorers ever set foot in Zambia, part of Zambia was occupied by the Khoisan people (modern day bushmen tribe found largely in Botswana). Around AD300, the Bantu migration slowly saw the filtering of the Tonga (from the east), Nkoya (from the north and north east - modern day DRC and Angola), Mbunda (from the west - Angola), Nsokolo, Ngoni and Sotho (from the south - present day South Africa) people into these areas.

The first Europeans into Zambia entered in the late 1700's, and actually came from Portugal on an expedition through Mozambique with the aim of crossing to the other side of the continent to present day Angola.

Livingstone's Arrival

About 100 years later, David Livingstone set foot in Zambia from the south-west on his famous expedition which led to the discovery by Europeans of the Victoria Falls, and later, the establishment of the two towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone. It was because of his reports that interest in the area grew from the settlers who came from Cape Town South Africa to the the British South Africa (BSA) Company who sought mineral wealth and commerce. Later, it was a member of the BSA Company who discovered the copper deposits in the Kafue area.

1957 Rhodesia & Nyasaland penny

A coin used in Rhodesia and Nyasaland - present day Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi

BSA Company, Rhodesia and Nyasaland

Barotseland-North-Western-Rhodesia and Northern-Eastern-Rhodesia were established and were separate units until 1911 when they came together as Northern Rhodesia. When the British government decided not to renew their charter with the BSA Company, the company relinquished control of Northern Rhodesia in 1923, and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) became a self governing colony. In 1953, the two Rhodesia's came together with Nyasaland (now Malawi), and became the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Opposition to this move came mostly from Northern Rhodesia in the early 1960's. In 1962, elections resulted in an African majority in the council and eventual disbanding of the federation in 1963. Kenneth Kaunda became the first Prime Minister after elections in early 1964, and in October of the same year, Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia, flying its flag for the first time, and with Kenneth Kaunda as the first president.

Zambia History After Independence

Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Samora Machel (Mozambique) and Sam Nujoma (Namibia)

Zambia's first president, the late Kenneth Kaunda (right) with late Mozambique president Samora Machel (middle) and former Namibian president Sam Nujoma (left)

In the 1990's the economy was collapsing and opposition from other political parties to the one-party regime resulted in riots and an attempted coup. In 1991 an election saw the removal of Kenneth Kaunda, the abolishing of the one-party regime, and the succession of Fredrick Chiluba to the presidency. From there, the Zambian presidency changed hands from Chiluba to Levy Mwanawasa, then to Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata and Edgar Lungu in 2015.

Modern Day Zambia

Zambia's economy improved greatly with favourable economic reform under the then president Chiluba. Inflation was brought down to the single digits. Since the BSA Company years, Zambia has been largely dependent on Copper exports, which is why the economy suffered greatly when copper prices dropped in the 1970's. Today, copper is still the largest revenue generator (about 85% of export revenue), which is why the Zambian government aim to increase revenue from other industries - particularly tourism, agriculture (which already employs the most), hydro power and gemstone mining.

[Top of Page]

Download this 100% FREE Travel Guide with all things Victoria Falls

our Bi-Monthly E-Newsletter

Each issue has a destination update, loads of information about conservation and wildlife, specials offers, traveller tips, community projects, website highlights and tons more...

Find out more about our Bush Telegraph

"Your newsletter keeps me informed about new and old and is the best I've seen in a long while - informative, not commercial, just plain perfect!"  - I.Skliros

Don't worry. Your e-mail address is totally secure. I promise to use it only to send you The Vic Falls Bush Telegraph.



Return from Zambia History page to our home page

Download this 100% FREE Travel Guide with all things Victoria Falls

Simunye - We are One - Live theatre show in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Click to book!
Luxury Journeys by train from Pretoria to Victoria Falls, on the Rovos Rail
Stone Dynamics Gallery in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Powered by SBI!

Copyright© 2008 - Tony and Boo Peel. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.