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Zambia (the Republic of Zambia) is land-locked. It borders Congo (Kinshasa) to the north, Tanzania and Malawi (east), Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia (south) and Angola (west).

Inhabited by San hunter-gatherers until 300 AD, who were replaced by Bantus, waves of immigration introduced a wide range of tribes through to the 19th century and many kingdoms were established. The Portuguese visited after 1790 and Livingstone in 1855. The British South Africa Company, led by Cecil Rhodes, obtained mineral rights in 1888, and founded North Eastern and North Western Rhodesia. In 1911 these two regions merged to form the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia which ceded control to the UK government in 1923.

In 1953 the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created. Campaigns for dissolution led to formation of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Independence was granted by the UK in 1964 when the country was renamed Zambia. A single-party state from 1972, it was forced by unrest to become multi-party in 1991 after which its economy improved with international investment in mineral resources and expanded transport links. The government is now trying to reduce reliance on copper, promoting, tourism and hydro-power.

Land-locked Zambia consists mostly of high plateaus dissected by river valleys. It is drained by two major river basins, the Zambezi/Kafue basin covering most of the country and the Congo basin in the north.

The Zambezi valley along the southern border of Zambia from Lake Kariba to the Victoria Falls is a rift basin. The river drops 100m over the Falls, discovered and named by Livingstone in 1855. Lake Tanganyika in the north, forming the border with Tanzania, is part of the Albertine Rift within the Congo basin and receives water from the Kalambo River.

The country overlies the collision zone of the Congo craton and the African Kalahari craton which, in the south, is called the Zambezi Belt. It is rich in minerals but has no oil or gas resources. The southern edge contains rift grabens within the Karoo basin. These have been explored with seismic data and 2 wells but no petroleum potential has been recognised.

Part of the eastern plateau bordering Lake Tanganyika overlies the East African rift but this area remains very high risk. Globalshift believes that the country is unlikely to achieve any oil or gas production in the future.

Geography, and oil and gas summary

ZAMBIA - Map and National Flag

South and East Africa


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Capital: Lusaka

Population: 13.2 million     


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Brief history of the country

Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)

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Zambia is a presidential democratic republic whereby the president is both head of state and head of government in a multi-party system.The president serves terms of 5 years, limited to 2 terms.

The unicameral 158-member National Assembly is the legislative body of which 150 members are directly elected and 8 are appointed by the president.

The Ministry of Energy and Water Development is responsible for oil and gas resources. It includes the Department of Energy and Department of Geological Survey.