Once known as Northern Rhodesia while under British colonial rule, Zambia was the richest of the British possessions in southern Africa, thanks to the vast copper deposits found in the 1920s. In 1964, after years of debate and national demonstrations, Zambia was granted independence.
By the mid 1970s, a combination of disastrous economic policy as well as the bottoming out of the world's copper market led to a severe recession in Zambia. Another recession followed in the Eighties, the effects of which are still being felt in the country today.
The country's capital, Lusaka, with its wide streets and lackluster architecture, may not have much to offer a typical tourist, but if you are in Lusaka for a few days, the Luburma Market is a good place to take in the local atmosphere of the city. Hundreds of goods are sold here, and you can spend a good day wandering about the different stalls.
At the Kabwata Cultural Center, you can learn more about Zambia's different ehnic groups, and take a look at tribal arts and crafts. The Mundawanga Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers up Zambian animals and plants, a very small preview of the real thing.
The real thing is, of course, any one of the 19 wildlife parks found throughout Zambia. Although tourism is not as highly developed in Zambia as in other African countries, such as Kenya or neighboring Tanzania, most visitors who come to Zambia are on their way to the country's national wildlife parks, which, along with its game preserves, cover about 32 percent of the land.
The very best is South Luangwa National Park, which boasts such a high concentration of wildlife it's called the Crowded Valley. The park is famous for its walking safaris, a leisurely, up-close look at the land. Other parks include North Luangwa National Park, and Kafue, Zambia's largest reserve. Be warned: accommodations, restaurants, and tourist activities can be very expensive, and usually cater to more affluent tastes. Safari accomodations can run an average of $200 a night, and if you're seriously thinking of the budget travel route, bring your own tent.