SR article

Geography of Zambia

This article contains a brief introduction to the geography of Zambia, while some of the highlights are noted.

The name Zambia is derived from the Zambezi River. The Zambezi River means 'God's river' and is the fourth biggest river in Africa, whereas its origin is inside Zambia. [1] The Zambezi River has a big impact on the landscape in Zambia, as well as an economic impact. The origin of the Zambezi is in the northwestern corner of the country, near neighbours Congo DR and Angola. 
Zambia is landlocked between Congo DR (north west and north), Tanzania (northeast), Malawi (east), Mozambique (southeast), Zimbabwe (south), Botswana (southwest), Namibia (southwest) and to conclude the list Angola to the west of the country. Its precise location can be seen in figure 1: Location of Zambia within Africa. 

Figure 1: Location of Zambia within Africa


Zambia is bigger than the United Kingdom and Germany together, whereas the population difference is more than 128 million in the advantage of the latter two. [2] In fact Zambia inhabits less habitants (16.212.000) than the Netherlands. The country is 752.000 square kilometres big, 18 times the size of The Netherlands.

The density of the country is 17,2 inhabitants per square kilometre, but the urban areas are some of the most dense urban areas of whole sub-Saharan Africa. In fact over 44% of the population lives in towns and cities. 
The countries most dense areas are the capital city Lusaka followed by Kitwe and Chipata. [3] The largest cities by population are the following five respectively: Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe, Chingola. 


Zambia has a diverse landscape, containing several mountains and many waterfalls. The land in general is on an altitude of 1.060 - 1.363 meters. Its altitude is not much noticeable, since the whole country is on a plateau. The highest altitude can be achieved in the east, on the Nyiaka Plateau with a hight of approximately 2.130 meter. 
The country is rich to minerals, which are settled underneath the high plateau and eroded during a long time process. Especially copper is a mineral won in mines and an important export product.

The country has several national parks, waterfalls (Victoria Falls to the south especially), lakes and rivers. The biggest lakes in Zambia are the Bangweulu, Mweru and Lake Tanganyika (seen in figure 2: Lake Tanganyika), of which the lateral one is also the second deepest natural lake in the world. [4]

Figure 2: Lake Tanganyika

One of the most known touristic attractions of Zambia are the Victoria Falls (seen in figure 3: Victoria Falls), on the southern border of the country. Other main sights are the North Luangwa, South Luangwa and Kafue National parks. 

Figure 3: Victoria Waterfalls


The climate in Zambia is moderate in general. In the Köppen classification system for climates it is classified as humid subtropical or tropical wet and dry. In the southwest and around the Zambezi also an steppe climate is noticeable. 

The summers are during the rainy season, which is from November till April. The winters are during dry season, which is from May till November. [5]


The country is home to 14 ecosystems with a total amount of 12.505 species. The ecosystems can be classified into forest, thicket, woodland and grassland types.

3.543 species of wild flower plants can be found, with a special diverse range in the northern and north-western parts of the country. 242 mammalian species are living inside Zambia, with the Rhodesian giraffe (seen in figure 4: Rhodesian giraffe) and the Kafue Lechwe as endemic species belonging to Zambia. 757 types of bird species are known to exist in Zambia. The Zambian barbet is again a specie belonging especially to the Zambian fauna. There are 490 known types of fish species, with the most diverse range of fishes in Lake Tanganyika. [4]

Figure 4: Rhodesian giraffe


The country has 40.454 km of roads of which 9.403 km paved, 8 airports of which 4 are international airports, railways and maritime waterways. [5]


[1] Zambia Tourism, 'The Zambezi River', (06-10-2016),

[2] Worldatlas, 'Zambia Geography', (06-10-2016),

[3] Wikipedia, 'Zambia', (06-10-2016),

[4] Zambia Tourism, 'Geography', (07-10-2016),

[5] CIA the World Factbook, 'Zambia', (06-10-2016),