Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Zambia's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Zambia's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Zambia is a large, landlocked, resource-rich country with sparsely populated land in the center of Southern Africa. It shares its border with eight countries (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) that serve as an expanded market for its goods. Zambia is experiencing a large demographic shift and is one of the world’s youngest countries by median age. Its population, much of it urban, is estimated at about 18.4 million (2020) and growing rapidly at 2.8% per year, partly because of high fertility, resulting in the population doubling close to every 25 years. This trend is expected to continue as the large youth population enters reproductive age, which will put even more pressure on the demand for jobs, health care and other social services. 

Zambia achieved its middle-income status in 2011. Its economy is predominantly dependent on exploitation of its natural resources, particularly through mining and forestry. Zambia’s climate is highly variable and over the last few decades has experienced a series of climatic extremes, e.g. droughts, seasonal floods and flash floods, extreme temperatures and dry spells, many of these with increased frequency, intensity and magnitude. Their impacts on the country are evident in climate-induced changes to physical and biological systems which increasingly exert considerable stress on the country’s vulnerable sectors, especially agriculture. As such, rainfall variability remains a key structural risk to Zambia’s sustainable growth, affecting key sectors like agriculture and electricity, and highlights the need to incorporate climate-smart solutions in Zambia’s long-term growth strategy.