Zambia History Facts and Timeline

(Zambia, ZM, Southern Africa)

The history of Zambia is a lengthy one, with the native Khoisans living here quite peacefully for many centuries as hunter-gatherers. However, roughly 2,000 years ago, the arrival of the migrating Bantu people from the Congo Basin saw a period of great change.

Many of the Khoisans were effectively displaced, while others chose to join forces with the Bantus and set up new communities. Further notable waves of migration came along in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, when immigrants came to Zambia from Congo, in search of a new life.

The Europeans Arrive

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the Europeans came along, in the guise of Portuguese explorers. At this time, David Livingstone, a pioneer medical missionary and renowned British explorer, made his way up the Zambezi River. In the year of 1855, Livingstone made one of his most famous discoveries, a giant waterfall which he promptly named Victoria Falls, honouring Queen Victoria.

Inspired by the reports from Livingstone, many missionaries soon began arriving in Zambia, flocking to the region around the northern banks of the Zambezi River. In the year 1890, this area was named as Northern Rhodesia, being governed by the British South Africa Company. A wealth of copper deposits were discovered on the northern side of central Uganda, leading to the area being referred to as the Copperbelt, a name still used today.

Under the Control of the British

History remembers that the year 1924 saw the colony ruled by the British, while in the early 1950s, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was established, grouping together Northern and Southern Rhodesia with Malawi (formerly Nyasaland). African nationalism started to become a more prominent force, particularly after the United National Independence Party (UNI) was founded.

Independence Follows

Northern Rhodesia gained its independence in 1964 and at that time this region changed its name to Zambia. Kenneth David Kaunda was elected as president and served in office until 1991. However, the government soon became known for corruption and general poor management. Nearby civil wars compounded problems with the local economy and politics.

A 'Movement for Multiparty Democracy' came to power in 1991 and a brighter future for Zambia dawned, with President Frederick Chiluba at the helm. The country began to attract investors, although high inflation and unemployment were constant issues, together with rumours of election rigging.

The Zambia of Today

At the beginning of the new millennium, Zambia turned over a new leaf in its history books. A third president was duly elected, Levy Mwanawasa, and he began to investigate the wrong-doings of his predecessors whilst also dealing with an HIV / AIDS epidemic.

Much of Zambia's huge debt (estimated at some US$7 billion) was effectively removed in 2005, when international banks wrote off their loans. The economy subsequently began to stabilise, agriculture and mining flourished once more, and foreign aid flooded in. Tourism was even promoted and visitor numbers slowly began to rise.