Zambia is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most highly urbanized countries. About one-half of the country's 13 million people are concentrated in a few urban zones strung along the major transportation corridors. Rural areas are under-populated and unemployment is a problem throughout the country.
Per capita GDP stands at about 8 million Zambian Kwacha (USD1600), which places the country among the world's poorest nations. Life expectancy is at about 53yrs old, which has risen in recent years from a previous age of around 37 and continues to improve, and infant mortality is at about 66 per 1,000 live births.
The Zambian economy has historically been based on the copper-mining industry. Output of copper however fell consistently after Independence until, in 2001, the first full year of a privatized industry; Zambia recorded its first year of increased productivity since 1973. Copper output has increased steadily since 2004, due to higher copper prices and the opening of new mines.
Today copper mining is central to the economic prospects for Zambia, but concerns remain that the economy is not diversified enough to cope with a collapse in international copper prices.
China has become a major investor in the Zambian copper industry, and in February of 2007, the two countries announced the creation of a Chinese-Zambian economic partnership zone around the Chambishi copper mine.
Agriculture is the country's second most important industry with exports of flowers and specialist vegetables to European markets comprising the bulk of exports. This sector has been in jeopardy in recent years with escalating transport costs rendering our exports uncompetitive but the Government has made agriculture as well as tourism one of its main priorities in the drive to diversify the economy.
Tourism is the third pillar of the economy. Zambia has huge potential in terms of what it can offer to international tourists but with escalating costs the country has struggled to offer enough quality products easily accessible to overseas visitors.