Zambia's population comprises more than 70 Bantu-speaking ethnic groups. Some ethnic groups are small, and only two have enough people to constitute at least 10% of the population. The majority of Zambians are subsistence farmers, but the country is also fairly urbanised, with 42% of the population being city residents. The predominant religion is a blend of traditional beliefs and Christianity.
Expatriates, mostly British or South African, as well as some white Zambian citizens (about 40,000), live mainly in Lusaka and in the Copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are either employed in mines, financial and related activities or retired. Zambia also has a small but economically important Asian population, most of whom are Indians.
Languages of Zambia
Zambia is widely claimed to have over 72 languages, although many of these might be better regarded as dialects. Some of these languages have a long history within Zambia, while others, such as Lozi, arose as a result of 18th and 19th-century migrations. All of Zambia's vernacular languages are members of the Bantu family and are closely related to one another.
Seven vernacular languages have official status. Together these represent the major languages of each province: Bemba (Northern Province, Luapula, Muchinga and the Copperbelt), Nyanja (Eastern Province and Lusaka), Lozi (Western Province), Tonga (Southern Province), and Kaonde, Luvale and Lunda (Northwestern Province). These seven languages are used, together with English, in early primary schooling and in some government publications. A common orthography was approved by the Ministry of Education in 1977.
According to the 2000 census, Zambia's most widely spoken languages are Bemba (spoken by 52% of the population as either a first or second language), Nyanja (37%), Tonga (15%) and Lozi (11%).
In some languages, particularly Bemba and Nyanja, Zambians distinguish between a "deep" form of the language, associated with older and more traditional speakers in rural areas, and urban forms (sometimes called "town language" or Chitauni, such as Town Bemba and Town Nyanja) that incorporate a large number of borrowings from English and other innovations.
An urban variety of Nyanja is the lingua franca of the capital Lusaka and is widely spoken as a second language throughout Zambia. Bemba, the country's largest indigenous language, also serves as a lingua franca is some areas.