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Area: 752,614 sq km
Population: 12.9 million
Languages: English, Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, Tonga
Religions: Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Indigenous beliefs
GNI per capita: US$950
Currency: 1 Kwacha = 100 ngwee
Once a British protectorate, Zambia has been independent since 1964. Politically, it switched from colonial government into an era of one-party rule lasting 27 years. A multi-party system emerged in the early 1990s. 
The country is named for the Zambezi River, which flows from its source in northern Zambia to the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,600 miles away. The famous Victoria Falls is located along the Zambezi River. They boast a drop twice as long as that of Niagara Falls.
Zambia consists largely of high plateaus with elevations ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 feet above sea level. The altitude produces a pleasant climate in much of Zambia, even though it is located in the tropics. Changes in temperature and precipitation mark the shifts between the country’s three seasons: the warm, wet season (November to April); the cool, dry season (April to August); and the hot, dry season (August to November).
Life in Zambia can be difficult for both adults and children. Even today, almost half of the population lacks access to safe water. This leads to medical problems and affects the quality of life for individuals, families, and entire communities. Recurring droughts also are a concern because they threaten the food supply.
Malaria is a major problem. Millions of Zambians live below the World Bank poverty threshold of $1 a day. Zambia hosts tens of thousands of refugees who have fled fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo.