Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa whose name comes from the Zambezi River. There are some of the world’s most incredible natural wonders and wildlife here. As one of the best safari destinations in southern Africa, this country is known for its rugged terrain. Known for its waterfalls, lakes, and the big five, the African Nation has plenty to offer visitors. 

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Zambia’s waterfall_©

Geography of Zambia 

As a result of Zambia’s consistently warm tropical climate and the altitude of many of its rural areas, the country’s rural areas are generally rich and fertile. With five vast lakes, three major rivers, 17 waterfalls, and numerous wetland areas, Zambia is one of the most water-rich countries in Africa.

History Of Zambia 

As one of the origins of the human race, the Great Rift Valley stretches from the Zambezi River to the Egyptian Nile River.  A considerable portion of Zambia’s current population lives on lands that have been inhabited by their forebears for untold centuries. Many early stone age sites have been discovered in Zambia, but Kalambo Falls in the north and Victoria Falls in the south are the most significant. As early as the 11th or 12th century, a more advanced iron age culture called Luanga emerged. By the 12th century, long-distance trade was flourishing in the original farming villages.

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Old town of Zambia_©

In the settlements, cotton weaving, ivory carving, and metalworking were all carried out. Bracelets made of copper were used as currency, as were crosses made of copper. It is believed that several free states in the region now known as Zambia before colonisation began. New foods were brought from America, such as maise and cassava.

A slave trade began in the 7th century between the Arabs and the Africans. In exchange for slaves, they offered goods to African rulers. Besides the Swahili and Portuguese influences on Zambia, the Dutch colonisation of the Cape in South Africa and its hinterland from 1652 onwards also had a significant impact.

People and Culture of Zambia

Zambia has 72 ethnic groups, most of which speak Bantu languages, and a population of less than 15 million. Nine major ethnolinguistic groups make up about 90% of the population: Nyanja-Chewa, Bemba, Tonga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya, and Lozi. There are also around 100,000 Asians in Zambia, primarily of Indian and Chinese descent, as well as several European expatriates who were expelled from their farms in neighbouring Zimbabwe and invited to settle in Zambia by the government. In addition to this, Zambia is widely regarded as one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries in the world because of its rich mix of cultures, traditions, and people. The majority of Zambia’s tribes moved to the area in a series of migratory waves a few centuries ago. 

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Culture and People of Zambia_©

Through industrialisation and urbanization, ethnically different people were brought together by economic interests during the colonial era. As a result of these factors and the very clear influence of western standards, a new culture emerged without any conscious effort to establish politically determined guidelines. The rural population, however, has retained many of its indigenous and traditional values and customs. Culture played an important role in the development of a new nation after independence in 1964, and the government began to examine the question of national identity.

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Culture and People of Zambia_©

Wildlife, Birds, and Vegetation

There are no mountains in Zambia, but there are more intact woodlands than any country in its neighbours. The Zambian Region occupies a central position in southern tropical Africa’s summer-rainfall belt. Altitude, rainfall, and soil play major roles in determining the natural vegetation of the region. All the Big Five can be found in Zambia, but rhinos are extremely rare. They can only be found in Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) and North Luangwa National Parks. The Lower Zambezi, Kafue, and South Luangwa are all well-known for leopards, whereas elephants, buffalo, and lions are common in multiple parks.

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Vegetation of Zambia_©

Traditional Zambian Architecture

Different kinds of landscapes and climates affect the way people live in the Central and Eastern parts of Africa. In this part of the world, vernacular architectures reflect the basic needs of the local people. As a result, conditions are mild and comfortable throughout the country with temperatures ranging from 42F to 95F on average. So dwelling types differ more based on the people living in them and how they use them than based on their location and climate.  Zambian buildings are influenced by several factors. Geography, climate, and local materials are all factors that affect tribes.

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Insaka – Locally constructed home_©

Materials used for construction

Poles made of wood are commonly used to carry the roof load and to construct the roof structure itself. Around the perimeter of the building, Y-shaped branches support the beam support system. Smaller poles hold up the load along each side of the building, while larger poles are placed in the corners. Trusses and rafters, as well as battens, form the roof structure. Roofs are usually built after walls and supporting poles are installed, but sometimes trusses are constructed on the ground and hoisted up ready-made. It is easier to construct a hipped roof with local materials than a gable roof. In recent years, shed roofs have become more popular and are seen more frequently. It is common for buildings to have large overhangs to keep the water away from the mud exterior. The materials that make up bricks include clay, sand, and sometimes straw. 

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Insaka – Locally constructed home_©
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Thatch roof _©
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Thatch roof and wooden columns_©

Brick strength is determined by the clay quality and the drying method. In Zambia, elephant grass and many types of grass are used for thatching. During the dry season, between May and June and September and November, this roofing material is gathered. Due to its strength and flexibility, bamboo is grown throughout the country. In addition, it is very renewable. It is possible to use bamboo in many different ways when it comes to construction. In circular buildings, it is commonly woven into walls. Once plastered over, these walls are quite strong even though they are not load-bearing. Poles are placed either on the inside or outside of the wall to support the roof. 

Brick wall of local homes_©

There are 72 ethnic groups in Zambia, many of whom still live in rural areas and rely heavily on subsistence farming for their livelihood. In addition to being one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent, tourism plays an important role in the country’s overall development.


  • People (no date) Zambia Tourism. Available at:
  • 8 best things to do in Zambia (2022) Lonely Planet. Available at:   
  • Behance (no date) Vernacular architecture in Zambia, Behance. Available at:  

Radhika is a storyteller first and an architect second. She believes that architecture is a powerful tool to address society. It is one of the easiest forms of art which is directly used and understood by every person, for ages. She is a writing enthusiast, who loves to capture the world and her ideas with pen, paper and lens.