Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia became a republic upon gaining independence from Britain in 1964. Located in Southern Africa, Zambia features rugged terrain, diverse wildlife, parks, and safari areas. It is a landlocked nation that shares borders with eight countries, including Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Located at its border with Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls, locally called Mosi-Oa-Tunya, and one of Africa’s most famous natural features and tourist destinations. Lusaka is Zambia’s capital and largest city and one of the fastest developing cities in the Southern African Development Community. The country’s 19.1 million people, all of them members of the Bantu family, speak several major indigenous languages, while also using English as the official language.
Boasting a relatively stable democracy since 1991, Zambia’s government has peacefully transferred among three political parties: UNIP, MMD, and PF. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has consistently put Zambia among the top 10 most democratic African countries. Zambia attained middle-income status in 2011 and was regarded as one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. However, in recent times, declining copper prices, significant fiscal deficits, and energy shortages have stalled Zambia’s economic performance. Unemployment and under-employment are major issues and Zambia’s per capita GDP stands at $1051 as of 2020. In 2000, the agriculture sector represented 20 percent of Zambia’s GDP and accounted for 85 percent of its employment.
Zambia’s life expectancy of 64 years shows a continuous improvement. But communicable and non-communicable diseases continue to present a challenge to the health of the country, contributing to significant death and disability. Major causes of death include HIV/AIDS, neonatal disorders, stroke, lower respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, ischemic heart disease, malaria, cirrhosis, hypertensive heart disease, and meningitis. Deaths due to non-communicable diseases have increased substantially between 2009 and 2019, particularly stroke and hypertensive heart disease, which both rose by over 50 percent.
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