Lusaka has become something of a boom town of late. New buildings are going up everywhere and many chain stores and shopping malls are springing up all over the sprawling suburbs. The road development isn’t quite keeping up so peak hour traffic is finally becoming like other cities, but it has an optimistic air of a town on the rise. For many, this is the perfect example of what economic liberalization has done for the country. And viewed from the villages, Lusaka is the glittering capital which still persuades rural Zambians to migrate to the city in search of jobs and dreams. Well over 60% of its 2 million inhabitants are unemployed, but there are surprisingly few beggars. Although petty theft occurs, most people try to make an honest living selling their wares or services, always with a friendly smile.
History of Lusaka, Zambia
Lusaka was the site of a village named after its Chief Lusaka, which, according to history, was located at Manda Hill, near where the Zambia's National Assembly building now stands. In the Nyanja language, Manda means "graveyard." The area was expanded by European (mainly British) settlers in 1905 with the building of the railway.
In 1935, due to its fairly central location, its situation on the railway and at the crossroads of the Great North Road and Great East Road, it was chosen to replace Livingstone as the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia.
After the federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953, it was a centre of the independence movement amongst some of the educated elite that led to the creation of the Republic of Zambia. In 1964, Lusaka became the capital of the newly independent Zambia.
Lusaka in Recent Years
In recent years, Lusaka has become a popular urban settlement for Zambians and tourists alike. Its central nature and fast growing infrastructure sector have increased donor confidence and as such Zambians are seeing signs of development in the form of job creation, housing, etc. Consequently, it is thought that with proper and effective economic reforms, Lusaka as well as Zambia as a whole will develop considerably. Lusaka is home to a diverse community of foreign nationals, many of whom work in the aid industry as well as diplomats, representatives of religious organisations and some business people.
The markets are a hive of activity as the thousands of stalls are set up, graded and cleared away every day. A myriad of motor spares dealers, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruit sellers and rows and rows of “salaula” – stalls of discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale.
The capital covers an area of over 70km2 and is one of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa. It’s population almost trebled in the immediate post-independence era and continues to grow daily. There has been no influx control and the city is bursting at the seams. Grossly inadequate municipal facilities are hard-pressed to cope with the ever-increasing demand. It is a sprawling, metropolis with many multi-storey buildings, high-walled suburbs and busy shanty towns. Development has brought together people of many nationalities, making it a bustling center for economic, political and cultural activities.
The city lies at the junction of the main highways to the north, east, south and west, and at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level. There are air links to most of the major tourist destinations in Zambia from Lusaka International Airport.
Getting to Lusaka, Zambia
Lusaka is close to the centre of Zambia between the eastern and western bulges. All major routes to the east, west, north and south flow through the city.
The Great North Road comes down from Tanzania via Kapiri Mposhi, and is about 1100km from the Tanzanian border.
The Great East Road from Chipata to Lusaka is 570km.
The road from Livingstone in the south meets up with the Kafue Road and is 470km long. From the Chirundu border with Zimbabwe, the route is well paved and 136km long.
The Mongu road coming in from the west via the Kafue National Park is 591km long.
The domestic railway goes to Livingstone, Kapiri Mposhi and the Copperbelt. The Tanzania Zambia Railway - Tazara - comes down as far as Kapiri Mposhi, where the Zambia Railways train links it to Lusaka. Buses arrive from Harare, Lilongwe, Johannesburg, Livingstone and the Copperbelt.
Lusaka International Airport, which is 14km from the city centre, receives most international flights
Things to Do in Lusaka, Zambia
Buy veggies in the open market
Lusaka City Market is placed close to the train station. Local farmers gather there to sell anything, from fruits to grain to clothes. It is a very colorful place, packed with people. Although chances are you might not be interested to buy many things, it is a great way to experience the local culture. If you do decide to buy something, bargain and don’t worry too much if you end up paying more than the locals. Like in any crowded place, take care of your belongings.
Discover Zambian artwork while visiting Namwandwe Art and Sculpture Gallery
Located about 15 km (9.3 miles) away from the city center, it might be a bit tricky to get to if you don’t have your own transportation. The exhibition focuses on contemporary Zambian art, as part of the personal collection of John Kapotwe. The gallery is part of John Kapotwe’s personal house. If you are interested to learn more about Zambian artworks, this is a place you can’t miss. Besides, it’s the only one of its kind in Lusaka.
Munda Wanga Environmental Park
Munda Wanga Environmental Park is a rescue center and a zoo located 16 km (10 mi) away from the city. The animals they have here are diverse, yet it does not compare to viewing wildlife in one of the national parks. In case you feel like going on a walk, another point of interest close by is the botanical garden. Locals enjoy coming here for picnics, since there aren’t many other opportunities in the city.
The National Museum
Pat cheetahs at Chaminuka Luxury Lodge and Game Reserve
Although it’s just 25 km (15 mi) away from Lusaka, it seems a totally different world. Chaminuka is both a lodge and a conservancy. Don’t expect the same amount of animals like in a national park - the area is much smaller and some of the animals are rather accustomed to people. However, they offer a wide range of activities from fishing to bird watching to bush walks and walking with cheetahs!
Observe crocodiles at Kalimba Reptile Park
Enthusiastic to see reptiles of all sorts? This is the perfect place for you. Here you can see pythons, huge crocodiles, turtles and other snake species. If you’re traveling with your kids, this is a place you can consider stopping. It’s northeast from Lusaka, about 20 km (12 mi) away. You can plan spending here an afternoon or just a few hours. In case you’re not vegetarian, they also offer crocodile meat hamburgers and barbecue.
Lusaka National Park
Zambia’s newest and smallest national park is very close to Lusaka, making it a good destination for a day trip. Although there are yet many animals, you should be able to see rhinos and maybe giraffes and zebras. The chosen location of Lusaka National Park is rather curious - close to the city and populated area. You can plan a few hours for the visit.
|Languages spoken||English and Chi-Nyanja or Chi-Chewa|
|Currency used||Zambia Kwacha|
|Area (km2)||360 km²|