Zambia is located in southern Africa, bordered by Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Originally settled by hunter-gatherers more than 2,000 years ago, the area remained relatively untouched for centuries until the 19th century, when European explorers, missionaries and traders made their way to the central part of the country. Westerner David Livingstone was the first European to see the great waterfalls in the Zambezi River, in 1855, and named it Victoria Falls, after Britain’s Queen Victoria. Northern and Southern Rhodesia, as Zambia and Zimbabwe were then known, both came under Britain’s sphere of influence in the early 20th century, and briefly formed a federation with Nyasaland (now Malawi) before becoming independent in October 1964.
Lay of the Land: Zambia is a kidney-shaped country of high plateaus and temperate climate located on the fringe of southern Africa. The magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, thunders down the Zambezi River, a waterway that separates Zambia from its southern neighbor, Zimbabwe. Also to the south is the Caprivi Strip, a narrow extension of Namibia that is located between Zambia and northwestern Botswana, nearly joining Namibia with the Zimbabwe frontier.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Zambia were established on October 24, 1964, when Zambia became independent.
Zambia is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The US government provides a variety of technical assistance and other support that is managed by the State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), Threshold Program, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Treasury, Department of Defense, and Peace Corps. The majority of US assistance is provided through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in support of the fight against HIV and AIDS. The US has also provided considerable emergency food aid during periods of drought and flooding through the World Food Program (WFP) and is a major contributor to refugee programs in Zambia through the UN High Commission for Refugees and other agencies.
US trade with Zambia is dominated by the importation of nonferrous metals (those lacking iron). From 2004 to 2008, American purchases of such metals rose from $27 million to $35 million. The only other import that came close to these values was copper, which the US began to import in 2008 ($10.5 million).
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According to the State Department, Zambian security forces committed unlawful killings during 2008. The Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), an independent human rights organization that counseled victims’ families and represented them in actions against the government, consistently investigated and publicized such incidents. However, the government rarely punished perpetrators.
Sheila Siwela was appointed as Zambia’s ambassador to the United States on June 25, 2010.
Mark C. Storella, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, was sworn in as ambassador to Zambia on August 30, 2010. Zambia has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, and Storella has substantial experience in global public health efforts. His public health experience came in Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked on the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he helped on the effort to combat HIV/AIDS. He serves simultaneously as the U.S. Representative to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).