Background.  Zambia is located in South-Central Africa and has a population of 16 million.  Zambia takes its name from the Zambezi River, which rises in the north-west corner of the country and forms its southern boundary.  The greatest concentrations of people live in the capital Lusaka and along a 90-mile corridor of land known as the ‘Copperbelt', where the country’s major source of revenue is mined.  Zambia is comprised of 72 ethnic groups, most of which are bantu-speaking. About 90% of the population fall into 9 major ethnolinguistic groups: the Nyanja-Chewa; Bemba; Tonga; Tumbuka; Lunda; Luvale; Kaonde; Nkoya; and Lozi.  Zambia claimed its independence in 1964 Zambia and now has a multi-party democracy.  Zambia neighbors: Congo DR to the north and north west, Tanzania to the north east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the south east, Zimbabwe to the south, Botswana and Namibia to the south west and Angola to the West.

Health.  With around one in eight adults in Zambia living with HIV/AIDS, the country has been one of the worst-affected by the epidemic.  HIV/AIDS kills around 50,000 Zambians each year and has left around 700,000 orphans.  According to the WHO there were only 650 doctors working in Zambia between 2000–2010 (less than one doctor for every 10,000 people).  Life expectancy is 59 years of age.

Poverty. Sixty percent of people in Zambia live below the poverty line and 42 percent are considered to be extremely poor.  More than 350,000 people in the country are food insecure, i.e. they do not have access to a regular supply of healthy food. In both rural and urban households, poverty levels are highest amongst female-headed households with extreme poverty levels of more than 60 percent in rural areas and 15 percent in urban areas.

Geography.  The country is home to a huge range of birds; 750 different species are within its borders. All the classic savannah predators – lions, leopards, cheetahs – can be seen in Zambia and protected herds of elephant and buffalo roam the national parks. Zambia also boasts some unusual subspecies of antelope, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra.

Climate.  Although Zambia lies within the tropics, the climate is tempered by its high altitude.  Most of the land is part of an undulating plateau which runs like a backbone through the African continent.  There are three seasons – cool and dry from May to August, hot and dry from September to November, and warm and wet from December to April.  Unpredictable weather patterns have affected communities over the last decade. Farmers rely heavily on seasonal rains and subsistence-style farming is common in the country. The Zambian climate is favorable for growing a range of crops including maize, cotton, tobacco, and groundnuts.