Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. It borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania on the north-east, Malawi on the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south, and Angola on the west. Formerly Northern Rhodesia, the country is named after the Zambezi River.
Zambia has one of the lowest populations to land ratios in Africa. Only 10 million people in a country half the size of Europe. The employment opportunities offered in the post independence era in the copper mines and associated industries led to a strong rural-urban migration. The result has been to make Zambia one of the most urbanised countries in Africa. About one fifth of the population lives on the Copper belt to the north of the capital, but the biggest concentration of people is in Lusaka itself with an estimated population of over 2 million. This has resulted in massive tracts of uninhabited land across the country.
Zambias contemporary culture is a blend of values, norms, material and spiritual traditions of more than 70 ethnically diverse people. Most of the tribes of Zambia moved into the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. They grew in numbers and many travelled in search of establishing new kingdoms, farming land and pastures.
Before the colonial period, the region now known as Zambia was the home of a number of Free states. Each having comprehensive economic links with each other and the outside world along trade routes to the east and west coast of Africa. The main exports were copper, ivory and slaves in exchange for textiles, jewellery, salt and hardware.
During the colonial period, the process of industrialisation and urbanisation saw ethnically different people brought together by economic interests. This, as well as the very definite influence of western standards, generated a new culture without conscious effort of politically determined guidelines.
Many of the rural inhabitants however, have retained their indigenous and traditional customs and values. After Independence in 1964, the government recognised the role culture was to play in the overall development of a new nation and began to explore the question of a National identity.
Institutions to protect and promote Zambias culture were created, including the National Heritage Conservation Commission. Private museums were also founded and cultural villages were established to promote the expression of artistic talents.
Zambias present day culture exhibits a blend of historical and cultural features from the past as well as the present. Traditional African practices and understandings continue to influence many aspects of Zambian culture, mainly in how people act towards elders, marriage guidance and ceremonies.