More than 100,000 years ago, on the ancient land we now call Zambia, mankind’s ancestors (the beginnings of the human race) lived. Economic and cultural activity flourished in this resource rich environment for centuries prior to the European exploitation.
Although most of the villages were self-sufficient, long distance trading began to develop during the 11th and 12th centuries, and ultimately larger political units and more complex social structures resulted.
Due to its inland location, Zambia did not have direct contact with non-Africans until its recent history. The Portuguese were the first recorded European visitors, with Manuel Caetano Pereira arriving in 1796 hoping to establish a trade route between the territories of Mozambique and Angola.
In 1851 David Livingston became the first Briton to step foot on Zambian soil as he explored the upper Zambezi River.
In the late 1800’s, the country of Zambia was divided into two entities: the British South Africa Company, and North-Eastern Rhodesia controlled North-Western Rhodesia, of which.
In 1911, the two units were merged and formed Northern Rhodesia, and in 1923, the British government took control.
The discovery of enormous copper deposits in 1928 saw an onslaught of immigration from Europeans, and the country quickly became the world’s 4th largest producer of copper.
After many years of struggle with the British, independence was achieved in 1964, and the name was officially changed to Zambia.
Zambia faced many challenges during their early years as a new nation, as there were few citizens capable of running the government, and its economy relied heavily on foreign expertise.
By the mid-1970’s, the price of copper had declined worldwide and Zambia’s economy was devastated.
Kenneth Kaunda, the first president, outlawed all opposition political parties. Due to an ever-increasing inflation rate and rising debts, riots took place in Lusaka and many of the protestors were killed, and Kuanda was then forced to establish a multiparty democracy.
In 1991, Kuanda lost the presidential election to Frederick Chiluba. Chiluba brought about economic reforms which included privatization and establishment of a stock market. He was reelected in 1996. Prior to the 2001 elections, Chiluba contemplated changing the constitution in order to allow him to run for another term, but protests followed and he did not pursue the change. Levy Mwanawasa, a former vice president under Chiluba, was elected president.
Mwanawasa suffered a stroke in June 2008 and died in Paris in September. Vice President Rupiah Banda took over as acting president and was elected president in October. Banda has announced his intentions of running for the office in the 2011 elections.