Here at Raise a Smile we love Zambia: the beautiful landscapes, the stunning orange sky at sunset, the incredible and diverse wildlife but most of all the wonderfully kind and friendly people.
Approximately 13 million people live in Zambia, a country more than 3 times the size of the UK or about the same size as Texas. Nearly 98% of the population is made up of 72 indigenous tribes who live together peacefully. The remaining 2% are mostly citizens of other African countries with a small number of Chinese, Indian, American and European immigrants. With 72 tribes comes 72 different languages, and because of this most Zambians are exceptional linguists, many of them speak 4 or 5 of these indigenous languages as well as the official language of English.
The people of Zambia are incredibly friendly and small talk plays a large part in everyday life. Even in the big cities it is not uncommon to greet a complete stranger. Social interaction and family life play a vital role in the culture here.
Learn some basic words and phrases in Cinyanja, one of Zambia's widely spoken languages:
Muli bwanji? - How are you?
Nili bwino - I'm fine
Zikomo - Thank you
Dzina lanu ndani? - What is your name?
Dzina langa ndi... - My name is...
The population of Zambia is very young with almost 50% of the nation under the age of 18. There is an approximate 40:60 split between people living in urban and rural areas. In recent years there has been an enormous exodus of people leaving rural areas in the belief that they will find a better life in cities and towns. Sadly, this has led to mass unemployment and huge numbers of people living on the streets.
Zambia has been ravaged by HIV/AIDS in recent years. With over 15% of the population infected, the life expectancy has fallen to just 43 years, about half that of Western countries. Tragically with so many parents dying at such a young age, Zambia now has an estimated 1.1 million orphans, which is nearly 10% of the total population.
As a subtropical country, Zambia struggles with the problem of Malaria. As with many other diseases, children are often at greatest risk, with 50% of all Malaria deaths in Zambia being children under the age of 5. One of the most simple and cost effective solutions to the problem is the provision of insecticide treated mosquito nets.
Education is our main focuses as we believe it is the most powerful tool that someone can use to change the direction of his or her life. In Zambia the government has made education free for all pupils up to grade 7. Unfortunately, many children are not able to attend school despite this, as the costs of stationery, school books, uniform and PTA fees (Parents Teachers Association) are out of the reach of many families. Nationally the average classroom has one teacher per 57 pupils, with classes of as many as 100 pupils per teacher not uncommon especially in rural areas. We work predominantly with rural schools, which face many challenges due to their remote locations, lack of infrastructure and overcrowded classes.
There is a significant gender imbalance in education. The number of girls enrolled at schools in Zambia is 25% lower than the number of boys, and attendances are estimated to be much lower than even this figure. One of the main reasons for this is that if money is tight, parents tend to send their boys to school rather than girls.
Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It has a subtropical climate, which includes a rainy season from November to April and a dry season from May to October. In the South of Zambia, in the middle of the Zambezi River, you can find the only place in the World where four country's borders meet at one single point, those countries being Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Zambia also shares a border with Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Mozambique and Malawi.
Zambia is proud to boast one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. At 1708m Victoria Falls (or Mosi-ao-Tunya as it is known in, Kololo, the local language) is the widest waterfall in the World. Mosi-oa-Tunya literally translates to "the smoke that thunders" due to the thundering sound and mist that raises up from the water crashing onto the rocks below. During peak flow, the mist can reach nearly 1 kilometer high and can be seen for miles.
Zambia has a spectacular variety of wildlife and one of the best National Parks in Africa, South Luangwa. It is one of the few countries in the world where you can see both black and white rhinos, as well as lions, elephants, leopards, zebras, giraffe and an incredible array of birds, reptiles and insects.
Sadly with such an uneven distribution of wealth in Zambia only a small percentage of Zambians will ever get to visit and appreciate some of the amazing sights in their own country. With your help, we can ensure that more of the children growing up now in Zambia can have the chance to shape their own future, with your help.
Top 10 facts you probably didn't know about Zambia