Zambia People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


19,077,816 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 65


noun: Zambian(s)

adjective: Zambian

Ethnic groups

Bemba 21%, Tonga 13.6%, Chewa 7.4%, Lozi 5.7%, Nsenga 5.3%, Tumbuka 4.4%, Ngoni 4%, Lala 3.1%, Kaonde 2.9%, Namwanga 2.8%, Lunda (north Western) 2.6%, Mambwe 2.5%, Luvale 2.2%, Lamba 2.1%, Ushi 1.9%, Lenje 1.6%, Bisa 1.6%, Mbunda 1.2%, other 13.8%, unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)


Bemba 33.4%, Nyanja 14.7%, Tonga 11.4%, Lozi 5.5%, Chewa 4.5%, Nsenga 2.9%, Tumbuka 2.5%, Lunda (North Western) 1.9%, Kaonde 1.8%, Lala 1.8%, Lamba 1.8%, English (official) 1.7%, Luvale 1.5%, Mambwe 1.3%, Namwanga 1.2%, Lenje 1.1%, Bisa 1%, other 9.7%, unspecified 0.2% (2010 est.)

note: Zambia is said to have over 70 languages, although many of these may be considered dialects; all of Zambia's major languages are members of the Bantu family; Chewa and Nyanja are mutually intelligible dialects


Protestant 75.3%, Roman Catholic 20.2%, other 2.7% (includes Muslim Buddhist, Hindu, and Baha'i), none 1.8% (2010 est.)

Demographic profile

Zambia’s poor, youthful population consists primarily of Bantu-speaking people representing nearly 70 different ethnicities. Zambia’s high fertility rate continues to drive rapid population growth, averaging almost 3 percent annually between 2000 and 2010. The country’s total fertility rate has fallen by less than 1.5 children per woman during the last 30 years and still averages among the world’s highest, almost 6 children per woman, largely because of the country’s lack of access to family planning services, education for girls, and employment for women. Zambia also exhibits wide fertility disparities based on rural or urban location, education, and income. Poor, uneducated women from rural areas are more likely to marry young, to give birth early, and to have more children, viewing children as a sign of prestige and recognizing that not all of their children will live to adulthood. HIV/AIDS is prevalent in Zambia and contributes to its low life expectancy.

Zambian emigration is low compared to many other African countries and is comprised predominantly of the well-educated. The small amount of brain drain, however, has a major impact in Zambia because of its limited human capital and lack of educational infrastructure for developing skilled professionals in key fields. For example, Zambia has few schools for training doctors, nurses, and other health care workers. Its spending on education is low compared to other Sub-Saharan countries.

Age structure

0-14 years: 45.74% (male 4,005,134/female 3,964,969)

15-24 years: 20.03% (male 1,744,843/female 1,746,561)

25-54 years: 28.96% (male 2,539,697/female 2,506,724)

55-64 years: 3.01% (male 242,993/female 280,804)

65 years and over: 2.27% (male 173,582/female 221,316) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 85.7

youth dependency ratio: 81.7

elderly dependency ratio: 4

potential support ratio: 25.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 16.9 years

male: 16.7 years

female: 17 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 220

Population growth rate

2.93% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Birth rate

35.23 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Death rate

6.24 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Net migration rate

0.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Population distribution

one of the highest levels of urbanization in Africa; high density in the central area, particularly around the cities of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, and Mufulira as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 45.2% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.15% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.906 million LUSAKA (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.2 years (2018 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 20-49

Maternal mortality rate

213 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Infant mortality rate

total: 37.91 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 41.44 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 34.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 65.92 years

male: 64.15 years

female: 67.75 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 196

Total fertility rate

4.63 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

Contraceptive prevalence rate

49.6% (2018)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 89.5% of population

rural: 50.9% of population

total: 67.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 10.5% of population

rural: 49.1% of population

total: 32.5% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

4.9% (2018)

Physicians density

1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

2 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 69.6% of population

rural: 24.8% of population

total: 44.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 31.4% of population

rural: 75.2% of population

total: 55.9% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

11.1% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

1.5 million (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 6

HIV/AIDS - deaths

24,000 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

8.1% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 155

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.8% (2018/19)

country comparison to the world: 49

Education expenditures

4.6% of GDP NA (2018)

country comparison to the world: 76


definition: age 15 and over can read and write English

total population: 86.7%

male: 90.6%

female: 83.1% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 26%

male: 24.7%

female: 27.6% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 48

NOTE: The information regarding Zambia on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Zambia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Zambia 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.