Zambia's economy has traditionally been based on the copper mining industry, as the country has extensive copper deposits. In the 1970's the demand for copper began to fall, and with it went Zambia's economy, placing it in the position of being one of the 30 poorest countries in the world for a significant number of years. The government has endeavored to diversify the economy and has promoted other industries such as farming, tourism, gemstone mining and hydro-power. Copper demand has also been on the increase in the past few years and that has also had a large impact on the economic rebound of Zambia. In 2000 the inflation rate was at 30% but by 2007 it had been reduced to 8.9%.
Geography and Climate
Zambia is made up of mostly high plateaus situated at an average elevation of about 3000 ft above sea level (roughly). It is mostly flat, although in the east there are areas of mountainous terrain and valleys. There are a large number of rivers in the country, and several large lakes as well that dot the landscape. Lake Tanganyika in the far Northwest, extends from Zambia along the border of DRC and Tanzania. This lake was once thought to be the headwater of the Nile River by the great Missionary and Explorer David Livingstone. He explored that lake, as well as Lake Mweru and Lake Bangweulu in his effort to find the source of the Nile. These lakes are also located in northeastern Zambia. Lake Kariba on the southeast border is another important water basin. This lake is used to provide hydroelectric power, and also serves as a buffer to prevent the Lower Zambezi river from flooding as it makes its way through Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the Indian Ocean. South Central and South Western Zambia contain the extreme northern limits of the Kalahari Desert, a desert filled with scrub brush and acacia trees.
Zambia's climate is classified as a Humid Subtropical climate with distinct rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season which corresponds to summer, goes from November to April, and the dry season (equivalent to winter) runs from May thru October. Temperatures in the country are largely temperate with highs in the 80's to 90's in the rainy season and in the 70's in the dry season. In the south central and south west portions of the country, the climate is much more semi-arid in nature, owing to the Kalahari's influence.
Probably the best known landmark in all of Zambia is Victoria Falls, located in the south east corner of the country, on the border with Zimbabwe. This waterfall is the largest waterfall in the world in terms of volume of water passing over it. That is certainly remarkable, for when you visit it in the low water season there is almost no water flowing over it! So, during the high water season it really makes up for it and it is amazing! Named "Mosi o a tunya" or "The smoke that thunders" by the area's local inhabitants, the mist from this waterfall can be seen for miles at peak flow times. In a small aircraft, on a clear day you can see the mist rising on the horizon from up to 30-40 miles away, and it looks just like smoke! When you are walking around it and are near the edge, it is literally raining UPWARDS, the mist being forced upwards by the sheer power and volume of water hitting the gorge floor below.