Zambia

Zambia ethical travelZambia is one of the continent’s largest and most sparsely populated countries, shaped like a huge butterfly. Much of the country is an undulating plateau and the most interesting sights are round the edge – the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba in the south; the Luangwa Valley game reserves in the east; Lake Tanganyika, Kasaba Bay and the Kalambo Falls in the north. There are 70 different ethnic groups and seven main languages, as well as English, which is widely spoken.

Although it is the world’s fourth largest supplier of copper (accounting for 75 per cent of its foreign currency), Zambia is a poor country; but after many years of industrial decline the economy has grown in recent years thanks to high prices for copper, cobalt and other exports and to good management, which has led to much of its debt being cancelled as a highly indebted poor country (HIPC). The currency, the kwacha, even appreciated for a time. In one of his last speeches, President Mwanawasa, who died in 2008, regretted that poverty remained as widespread as ever, both in rural areas and urban slums. Two-thirds of the population live on less than US$1 a day and 85 percent are subsistence farmers.

Zambia has always tried to promote tourism, but it has never taken off in a big way. The country’s 19 national parks are being improved and you will not find too many tourists between you and the animals. A speciality in Zambia is walking safaris in the Luangwa Valley. Zambia has the opportunity to learn how to develop tourism from other nations’ mistakes and, in a country where there are few tourists, there is a responsibility on the visitor to tread lightly.