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Country information: Zambia



752.614 square kilometres


11.86 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Lusaka (1.3 million inhabitants 2006)

Official language

English (other tribal dialects)

GDP per capita (PPP)

US$ 1 500 (2008)

Population growth

1,6 per cent (2009)

Life expectancy

38,6 years (2009)

Infant mortality

101,2 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

19.4% (2003)




Tourism plays an increasingly important role in Zambia. The Government is currently trying to strengthen the tourism sector and to develop this as an economic alternative to the mining industry. Above all individual tourists from Western Europe and South Africa come to Zambia to see the Victoria Water Falls, the rich fauna, the cultural attractions, as well as for fun and relaxation. According to UNWTO in 2004, approximately 515,000 guests visited the country and brought 129 million Euro into the country.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

Over the past five years there has been a marked increase in prostitution in Zambia and also in the commercial exploitation of children. However, the development is only marginally related to the established tourist industry. Empirical studies of the aid organisation MAPODE (Movement of Community Action for the Prevention and Protection of Young People Against Poverty, Destitution, Diseases and Exploitation) show that the majority of prostitutes in Zambia are between 14 and 18 years old, but younger children are also forced into prostitution. In particular orphans, homeless children, children from broken homes, and victims of sexual abuse are in danger of falling for false promises. The media often report cases of trafficking in children, particularly in places near the boundaries to neighbouring countries. In addition to commercial sexual exploitation, there has also been an increase in the cases of sexual abuse of children in their own families.


Widespread credibility is also given to predictions of native doctors that sexual intercourse with children will lead to good fortune. Such beliefs are closely linked to the desperate situation many find themselves in, and as a result the vicious spiral of poverty and abuse is given a further twist.


Prostitution is illegal in Zambia, and there are also laws against the abuse and sexual exploitation of children, which can be punished with lifelong imprisonment. Zambia also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 6, 1991, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


HIV / Aids

According to estimates of UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, there were 1.1 million people infected with HIV in 2007, including 560.000 women and 95.000 children. In the same year, 56.000 Zambians died following infection with the virus. In the 1980s the rare of life expectancy was at 54 years, now it decreased to 38,4 years. According to estimates every tenth Zambian (15,2 per cent of grown up between 15 and 49 years) is infected by HIV. The southern Africa is deemed to be the region with the highest prevalence rates of HIV in the world.

There is an increasingly widespread misconception among both men and women that children contract infection with HIV less easily, and that sexual intercourse with a virgin has cleansing and healing effects. Particularly for children, whose immune system is often already weakened by the effects of poverty, risk of infection with HIV is particularly high if they are forced into sexual intercourse with adults, since in addition to mental harm they frequently also suffer severe physical damage.


Local Contacts



P.O. Box 33324, Lusaka.

Phone/Fax No: +260-1-290773;

Children’s Helpline: 095-812437; Women’s Helpline: 907-899334

E-mail address:;;;



Advocacy on Human Development

PO Box 40066, Mufulira, Zambia

Phone: +260 97880046

Fax: +260 2410211



Child Abuse Prevention Education

PO Box 660249

Monze, Zambia

Phone: +260 32 50141

Fax: +260 32 50141



Children in Need

14th Floor of Indeco House - South end of Cairo Road.


Phone: +260 97 809011

Fax: +260 1 231 298






State and society

Zambia is a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The country is seen as one of the most politically-stable in Africa and is a member of the Commonwealth. After independence in 1964, Zambia was ruled for 27 years by Kenneth Kaunda. State President and head of government is currently Frederick Chiluba, Chairman of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The legislature is the National Assembly, with the House of Chiefs as a consultational body. Chiefs are the traditional leaders of the 73 ethnic groups in Zambia, which is divided into nine provinces.


The population consists of 73 ethnic groups, most of them Bantu. The most important include the Bemba, Nyanja and Tonga. Some three-quarters of the population are Christian, less than a quarter are Animists. There are also Islamic and Hindu minorities.

Each of the 73 ethnic groups has its own Chief, who has considerable authority and oversees law and order.


Most ethnic groups in Zambia are matrilinear. Traditionally, on marrying, a man moves to his wife's village. If he dies, then his widow and children do not inherit, but the sons of his sister. A man also has more responsibilities towards the children of his sister than towards his own. A result of this is that women have an appreciable say in political affairs, and they also have the responsibility for the children. However, outside traditional rural life, men frequently have a much more important role. Since their husbands usually do not provide for them, women often find themselves in financial difficulty.

The Zambian government has undertaken to introduce a programme which promotes the provisions of credits for women. Another part of the National Gender Policy is to encourage equality of schooling, and in particular to care for girls who leave school prematurely. In Zambia there is compulsory schooling, but more and more children have been missing school, especially since the reintroduction of school fees as part of the World Bank's structural adaptation programme.

Zambian society sees children as a gift of God, and they enjoy a privileged position with various laws for their protection. In April 2000, the country started a National Programme to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. 



Zambia is rich in natural resources, and has a thriving copper and ore mining industry. Some 43 per cent of the population live in towns and cities, so that the services sector with 38 per cent is now almost as important as industry with 45.5 per cent. According to the World Bank, two-thirds of the population live below the absolute poverty level. Zambia is one of the most indebted countries in the world, and has undertaken to implement a structural adaptation programme in order to reduce this debt.