Early history up to the 19th century
Archaeological finds indicate that the area of today’s Zambia was probably populated 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. From the 3rd century AD Bantu-speaking peoples (eg Tonga, Shona, Rozwi, Ndbele) who farmed and raised cattle migrated to the region. Around the 10th century AD they made up the majority of the population.
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The Bantu peoples traded with Arabs as early as the 10th century; copper, gold and ivory were traded. In the 16th century, the Portuguese researched the country’s presumed rich mineral resources, concentrating on the region of the Copper Belt in the northwest of the country. In the north-east, Arabs began to trade lively with slaves who were taken to the north from southern Africa.
In the 17th century there was a new wave of immigration of Bantu peoples, who settled mainly in the west of the country. Here the empire of the Barotse (Rozwi) originated, which was conquered around 1835 by the Kololo under their leader Sebetwane.
Between 1835 and 1873 the British African explorer David Livingstone repeatedly visited the area of today’s Zambia and discovered in 1855 the 110 m high waterfalls of the Zambezi, which he called “Victoria Falls” in honor of the British Queen. The first mission stations were founded around 30 years later.
In 1891 the eastern part of today’s Zambia was taken over by the “British South Africa Company”. Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony and wealthy mine owner, had previously negotiated a “protection contract” with the local population. In 1899 the area became a British protectorate under the name “Northwest Rhodesia” (after Cecil Rhodes). In 1911 the area was combined with “Northeastern Rhodesia” to form the crown protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. The border with southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was the Zambezi River. In 1923 both Rhodesia became British crown colonies.
In the 1920s, the British started mining copper in the Copperbelt in northeastern North Rhodesia (which contains around a third of the world’s copper deposits). After the end of World War II, after several strikes by black miners, the Northern Rhodesian Congress (NRC, from 1951 the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress, ANC) was formed to represent the black population. Despite violent protests, Northern Rhodesia was merged with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Njassaland (now Malawi) in September 1953 to form the “Central African Federation” (until 1963).
In 1959 Kenneth Kaunda founded the United National Independance Party (UNIP) from several splinter groups of the ANC, whose stated goals were the dissolution of the Central African Federation and an independent and sovereign northern Rhodesia under the name “Zambia”. The colonial administration soon banned the UNIP and imprisoned Kaunda and many of his followers. However, the continuing strikes and boycotts of the black population in northern Rhodesia led to the dissolution of the Central African Federation in 1963, northern Rhodesia being given autonomy, and general elections being held. UNIP won an absolute majority of votes and Kenneth Kaunda became Zambia’s first head of government (until 1990).
In October 1964 Great Britain officially released the country as the presidential republic with the capital Lusaka. A year later, Barotseland was annexed to Zambia as an autonomous province.
Head of state Kaundas politics was west-oriented in the first years, but then increasingly oriented towards socialism: In 1968 he had a large part of the companies in Zambia nationalized, which caused the already poorly developed economy to stagnate. In 1971 the UNIP was declared a unity party and opposition parties were banned.
According to AbbreviationFinder, Zambia supports the Rhodesian rebel organizations ZANU and ZAPU in the 1970s, which fought against the white minority government in Rhodesia. Counter-strikes by Rhodesian government troops on the ground of Zambia led to the destruction of bridges, railway lines and roads, which led to supply shortages in many parts of Zambia. In addition, a fall in the world market price for copper (Zambia’s most important export commodity) in 1975 led to the country’s economic situation deteriorating drastically and the population threatened with starvation. This was prevented by extensive deliveries of aid from abroad. The situation only eased after the end of the Rhodesian conflict in 1979/80.
In 1980 Zambia resumed economic relations with Rhodesia, which was now called Zimbabwe. In the same year, the country, along with nine other African countries, was one of the founders of the “Southern African Development Community” (SADC). The aim of the organization was closer economic cooperation between the member states (eg by abolishing customs barriers and establishing a free trade area) and maintaining peace in the South Africa region.
In 1989 Frederick Chiluba, the previous president of the trade union association, launched the “Movement for Multi-Party Democracy” (MMD). In the 1990 elections, in which opposition political parties were also admitted, the MMD emerged victorious; Chiluba replaced Kenneth Kaunda after 27 years in office as head of state and government. At that time, Zambia’s external debt had risen to approximately $ 7 billion. In order to improve the country’s economic situation, Chiluba announced the reprivatization of the companies. Nevertheless, living conditions for the people of Zambia deteriorated dramatically over the next few years as a result of the continuing drought.
The November 1996 elections were boycotted by opposition parties accusing the President and the ruling MMD of corruption and mismanagement. As a result, Chiluba was confirmed as head of Zambia. A failed coup attempt in October 1997 led to the arrest of numerous opposition politicians.
Zambia in the new millennium
During the elections to the President in December 2001 (Chiluba had to refrain from running again after considerable protests in Zambia), foreign election observers reported serious irregularities in the election. Although opposition leader Anderson Mazoka in all likelihood won the majority, Chiluba-proposed MMD candidate Levy Mwanawasa was sworn in as president. Several people were killed in riots in Lusaka after the new president was sworn in. Mwanawasa was confirmed in office in the 2006 elections; According to international observers, these elections were more democratic than in 2001. A national constitutional conference has been advising since December 2007 on constitutional and electoral reform. After Mwanawasa died of a stroke in August 2008, his acting successor, Vice President Rupiah Banda (MMD), was confirmed in the presidential office in October 2008 elections. Former President Frederick Chiluba was acquitted of corruption in August 2009. The process took a total of seven years. Michael Chilufya Sata (PF) has been President since September 2011. His government program focuses in particular on poverty reduction, the fight against corruption and the prevention of HIV.