What you need to know about Zambia

Zambia is one of those countries unknown to the vast majority of the population, but when discovered stays in your heart forever. This is what happened to us and, since 2014, KUBUKA works in Livingstone, where the Victoria Falls are found. Its landscapes, its food, its traditions and, above all, its people, are Zambia’s main attraction, a magical place for many reasons which we want to tell you today…

One of its first singularities is that it is one of the countries that borders with a greater number of states, 8 in total: Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Congo and Angola.

It is a republic and has 14,309,466 inhabitants, divided into 72 tribes. If you are one of those people who likes to learn languages, this is your place because each tribe has its own language, so 72 dialects are spoken. The most common tribes and languages are Nyamja, Bemba, Tonga and Lozi. All of these tribes have their own representative called Chief, who is the most respected person in the country, even above the President. The most important Chief is the one of the Lozi tribe. Becoming a Chief is hereditary, which is why it is a position held in the family.

Zambia is divided into 10 provinces: Southern Province, Northern Province, Western Province, Eastern Province, Northwestern Province, Luapula Province, Copperbelt Province, Central Province, Lusaka Province and Muchinga Province in an area of 750,000 km. Each province is represented by a person, all of them guided by the President of the country. Different languages are spoken in each province but there is always a common one that is different in each province.

If Zambia is rich for something, it is for its flora and fauna which are the greatest attraction for tourists. It mainly has the Victoria Falls, named as one of the wonders of the world in 2010. It also has 19 National Parks throughout the country where a great diversity of animals can be found. Monkeys, elephants, hippos, giraffes, lions…, it has a wonderful wildlife.

Another of the traits which the Zambians are very proud of is their flag, formed by an eagle and four colours whose meanings are: Green, representing the flora; black, the colour of the peoples’ skin, its roots; orange, copper because Zambia is rich in this mineral; and red, representing the blood that the heroes of the country poured fighting for independence. The eagle represents freedom and the ability to rise again.

If we talk about food, they also have something they eat with everything, just like in Spain we have bread. This is called nshima, their typical dish, a very solid puree usually made with corn flour and water. It is never swallowed alone, it must be eaten together with whatever you want or can afford, vegetables, eggs, meat, fish…It is eaten with the hands and in the form of small balls with which you mix the side dish of your choice. Mmmm, delicious!

One of the doubts visitors usually have before going to Zambia is the religion of its people. Well, the vast majority of Zambians are Christians and they are believers. Going to church is very important to them, so the day they go, they usually spend the whole day there.

Music is never lacking in the churches and in the streets of Zambia. Each tribe has its own dance with its dress code and its meaning, different from the rest of the tribes. One thing they do have in common is the drums and whistles, and they also use their voices so that together they create the melody to their dances. The dance of the Bembas, for example, is called Kalela.

But surely one of the topics of the African culture that arouses most fascination is their tradictions. In this sense, we must highlight that the most important ceremony in Zambia is the Koumboca, which means “to get out of the water”. It celebrates King Litungas’ (of the Lozi tribe) change from his house in Lealui to his other house in Limulinga. The King carries out this trip using a plane to cross part of the Zambezi River, and a boat to reach the other side. It takes place between the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season. Here is an example…

Another piece of interest for travelers is the currency used in Zambia. Currently it is called Kwacha, although, before the independence, it was called Shilling, and only a couple of years ago it changed its value. What used to be 1,000Kw is now 1Kw, since the amount was starting to be very big, but the price of things remains the same.

Finally, note that Zambia is one of the safest countries in Africa (it appears first in the list of safest countries in the world to visit in 2018, made by Skyscanner). The people are very friendly and hospitable. Besides, Zambians are known for not throwing in the towel easily and for fighting tirelessly for their rights and dreams.

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