Zambia

Zambia
« Back to Glossary Index

Zambia, is a landlocked country in south-central Africa. It is situated on a high plateau and takes its name from the Zambezi River, which drains all but a small northern part of the country.

Large parts of Zambia are thinly populated. Much of population is concentrated in the country’s most developed area—known as the Line of Rail—which is served by the railway linking the Copperbelt with Lusaka, the capital, and with the border town of Livingstone.

Zambia has a long land border on the west with Angola but is divided from its neighbours to the south by the Zambezi River. To the southwest is the thin projection of Namibian territory known as the Caprivi Strip, at the eastern end of which Zambia and three of its neighbours (Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe) appear to meet at a point—a “quadripoint”—although the precise nature of the meeting is contested. Man-made Lake Kariba now forms part of the river border with Zimbabwe. Zambia’s other neighbours include Mozambique to the southeast, Malawi to the east, and Tanzania to the northeast. The long border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo starts at Lake Tanganyika, crosses to Lake Mweru, and follows the Luapula River to the Pedicle, a wedge of Congolese territory that cuts deep into Zambia to give the country its distinctive butterfly shape. Westward from the Pedicle the frontier follows the Zambezi-Congo watershed to the Angolan border.

The oldest rocks in the country are volcanics and granites of the Bangweulu block in the northeast. These are 2.5 billion years and older and have been unaffected by orogenic processes since Precambrian times (about 4 billion to 540 million years ago). This old structure is partly covered by ancient sedimentary rocks, and together they constitute the basement complex. Sedimentaries of the Katangan Complex (about 620 million years old) are extensive in the central areas, and mineralization of these rocks is the basis of Zambia’s mining industry. Later sedimentary rocks of the Karoo (Karroo) System filled rifted troughs in the plateau surface, some of which, as in the Luangwa and middle Zambezi valleys, have been partially re-excavated. Coal seams occur in Karoo rocks to the north of Lake Kariba. These structural troughs are ancient features. Younger rifts in the north, part of the East African Rift System, are occupied by Lakes Mweru and Tanganyika. Karoo and older sedimentaries are also found in the west, buried under the predominantly sandy deposits of the Kalahari System.

Drainage

The continental divide—between the Congo River drainage, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean, and that of the Zambezi, which drains into the Indian Ocean—runs along the border shared by Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo west of the Pedicle and then northeastward to the border with Tanzania. Both the Luapula (which drains the Bangweulu basin into Lake Mweru) and Lake Tanganyika are tributary to the Congo.

« Back to Glossary Index
About Cameroon

Cameroon

DNA structure

DNA