The Republic of Zambia is in Southern Africa. Neighbouring countries are Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lusaka is the capital city. Other important cities include Kabwe, Kitwe and Ndola.
Zambia's terrain consists of high plateau with some hills and mountains. The Zambezi is the main river.
The country has a tropical climate with temperatures varying according to altitude. The rainy season runs from October to April.
The Victoria Falls on the Zambezi are on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
At the end of the 1950s the Zambezi was dammed at Kariba to provide hydro-electric power to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba is one of the world's largest man-made lakes.
Other lakes in Zambia are Lake Bangweulu, Lake Mweru shared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Lake Tanganyika, also shared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as Tanzania.
Zambia's National Parks are the Bangweulu Swamps, Kafue, Kasanka, Liuwa Plain, Lower Zambezi, Luambe, Lochinvar, Nyika, Sioma Ngwezi, North Luangwa, South Luangwa, Sumbu and Mosi-O-Tunya. Many species of birds and other wildlife can be seen in the parks. Animals include baboons, antelopes, cheetahs, giraffes, elephants, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, cheetahs, leopards and lions.
Traditional buildings in Zambia were constructed from materials such as bamboo, mud and thatch.
Colonialists introduced European styles of architecture and today examples of Edwardian Colonial architecture can still be seen in Livingstone.
Architecture in the capital city, Lusaka, is westernised with modern buildings and skyscrapers.
The population of Zambia was estimated at 11,261,795 in 2005.
English is the official language but around seventy languages are spoken.
Over fifty percent of the people are Christian. A number of Zambians have indigenous religious beliefs and some people follow Islam.
Maize is the staple food crop for much of the population. The more drought resistant millet and sorghum are also grown. Other produce includes cassava (a root vegetable), cowpeas, peanuts, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Fish is available from lakes and rivers and cattle, pigs and poultry are reared.
During times of drought, villagers supplement their diet by collecting wild fruit and vegetables.
Zambia has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Evidence of early human habitation has been found at the Victoria Falls (in the South) and the Kalambo Falls (in the North). The areas around the Falls are important prehistoric sites. Artefacts have been excavated which are over three hundred thousand years old.
Over the centuries various groups migrated to the area; Bantu people were in the region by 1500. The Lunda Empire became a dominant force. Other groups included the Bemba, the Chewa and the Lozi.
Trade took place with African states on the east and west coasts and with the Portuguese. Goods sold included copper, ivory, rhino horn and slaves.
By the end of the nineteenth century the British South African Company, run by Cecil Rhodes, had occupied the area as well as much of the neighbouring country.
In 1911 the country was known as Northern Rhodesia and later, in 1924, the region became a British Protectorate.
During the early twentieth century the Zambian Copperbelt was discovered. The find proved to be one of world's richest sources of copper but was not commercially exploited until the 1920s and 30s when improvements in technology made this economically viable. The Copperbelt had an enormous impact on the country's history. Colonial interest increased in Northern Rhodesia and work in the copper mines gave impetus to Zambian nationalism.
In 1953 Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) became a Federation. The Federation lasted until the end of 1963 - both Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) gained independence in 1964.
Dr Kenneth Kaunda, an activist for independence, was the first President of the Republic of Zambia.
From the 1920s and 30s copper was Zambia's major industry. Copper revenues financed roads, schools and hospitals. However, by the end of the twentieth century a fall in copper prices and a slowdown in production caused great losses. Advised by the World Bank, Zambia embarked upon a privatisation programme that included the copper industry.
Apart from copper mining, Zambia mines emeralds, cobalt, lead, zinc and coal. Other industries include hydropower, construction, chemicals, fertiliser, furniture, clothing, food processing and beverages. Tourism is an important earner of foreign currency.
Much of the labour-force work in agriculture. Agricultural products are maize, sorghum, rice, cassava, groundnuts, sunflower seeds and sugarcane. Cotton and tobacco are also grown. Cattle, goats, pigs and poultry are reared.
Zambia has a number of rock art sites, for example, the Kundabwika rock painting, the Mkomo Rock Shelter, the Nachikufu Cave and the Nsefu Cave and Rock Painting.
Traditional crafts include pottery, basketry and woodcarving.
Music, song and dance were an integral part of traditional Zambian life. Song was used to pass on values, duties and beliefs. Traditional instruments, particularly the drum, are still played at Zambian ceremonies.
In the literary world, Binwell Sinyangwe, the well-known Zambian writer, has published novels about life in Zambia - Quills of Desire (1996) and A Cowrie of Hope (2000).
Football is very popular in Zambia. Other sports played include rugby and cricket.
Christmas Day, Easter and New Year's Day are celebrated. Other holidays are Youth Day (12 March), Labour Day (1 May), Africa Freedom Day - the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, (25 May), Heroes Day (2 July), Unity Day (3 July), Farmers Day (6 August) and Independence Day (24 October).