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History of Lusaka

Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia that is located in south central Zambia. According to the 2000 census, the city has a population of 1,084,703. Lusaka is the central province of Zambia hence making it the most densely populated and tribally diverse region.

It is an administrative, financial, and commercial center. Manufactures include foodstuffs, beverages, clothing, and cement. Lusaka is located at the junction of the Great North Road (to Tanzania) and the Great East Road (to Malawi) and is on Zambia's main railroad. The Great Uhuru (Tanzam or Tazara) Railway connects Lusaka and Dar-es-Salaam.

While forming Northern Rhodesia in the 1890s, the area in which Lusaka is situated was taken over by the British South Africa Company from the local chiefs. The city was founded in 1905 and was named after David Livingstone, the Scots explorer. The city served as the capital city of the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. In 1924 the British Colonial took office. Lusaka was then named after the headman of a nearby African village. The city’s growth occurred after 1935, when it replaced Livingstone as the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia.

During the struggle for independence the city featured highly. It was where the Federation of African Societies founded the Northern Rhodesian Congress in 1948. After the federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia took place in 1953, Lusaka was a hub of the civil-disobedience movement in 1960 that led to the creation of the independent state of Zambia, Lusaka becoming the capital. In 1976 the city and its surrounding became a province.

The choice of Lusaka to become the capital did not follow any traditional development pattern. The city was not the home of an established ruler, neither was it a natural fortification nor the most convenient point of meeting for travelers from all parts of the land. The town's main feature was its central location and healthy climate.

Today, the city is the site of Livingstone Museum. The museum contains archaeological, ethnological, and historical materials. Victoria Falls is located nearby. Attractions include Lusaka National Museum, the Political Museum, Zintu Community Museum, the Freedom Statue, the Zambian National Assembly, the Agricultural Society Showgrounds, the Moore Pottery Factory, the Lusaka Playhouse theatre, a cinema, the zoo and botanical gardens of the Munda Wanga Environmental Park among others.  

Lusaka has a mixed economy. An international airport and the University of Zambia are just outside the city.  The area surrounding the city consists of mostly flat grassland that supports ranches and farms. Farming and stock rearing are the principal economic activities in this region.


By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer

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