Only two countries on the planet start with Z, and they are both in Africa: Zambia and Zimbabwe. Furthermore, these countries are both located in southern Africa, which means they are teaming with fascinating wildlife. Zambia is landlocked, with a population of approximately 19.47 million people. It is known for the magnificent Victoria Falls, beautiful nature reserves, and Luangwa Valley. Zimbabwe borders Zambia to the north, and they share Vicotria Falls. This southern African country has a population of around 16 million people. It is famous for its wildlife, and people from all over the world travel to these countries to immerse themselves in nature. Below is everything you need to know about the two countries that start with Z.
Countries That Start With Z
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The Most Populated Country That Starts with Z
Zambia is the most populated country, starting with Z, with a population of around 19.5 million people. However, Zimbabwe is not far behind, with a population of approximately 16 million people.
The Largest Country that Starts with Z By Area
Zambia is almost twice the size of Zimbabwe. It has a total land area of 290,584 square miles, while Zimbabwe has a total area of 150,873 square miles.
The Oldest Country that Starts with Z
Archaeologists have found evidence that human civilization existed in Zambia over three million years ago. For example, they discovered crude stone implements beside the Zambezi River. Additionally, they have unearthed Early Stone Age sites in many areas of Zambia, especially places like Victoria Falls and Kalambo Falls. The latter had evidence that 60,000 years ago, early humans were using fire. However, Zambia was colonized by the United Kingdom and gained its independence in 1964, so technically, the country is only 59 years old. But it is still the oldest country, starting with a Z.
The Youngest Country that Starts with Z
The youngest country that starts with a Z is Zimbabwe. This country is steep in history, and explorers found rock paintings that are more than 5,000 years old. Relatives of the Khoisan people, known as the Stone Age hunters, created these paintings. The Khoisan comprise two of the major ethnic groups originating in Southern Africa. They are also notorious for their language, which consists of click consonants. However, like Zambia, Zimbabwe was colonized by the United Kingdom and gained its independence in 1980, making this country 43 years old.
What is Zambia Known For?
As a foreigner visiting Zambia, you wouldn’t expect to be able to communicate in English, but you would be wrong. As a former British colony, English is one of Zambia’s official languages. However, there are 73 tribes in Zambia, meaning there are over 70 languages spoken in this country.
An interesting natural phenomenon occurs in Barotseland, on the Zambezi River. The Barotse Floodplain is inhabited by 250,000 natives who live in huts on tiny islands in the river. However, when the annual floods arrive in spring, these huts end up underwater, so the natives move to new homes. Their move is accompanied by a traditional ceremony called Kuomboka.
Zambia is also notorious for having the world’s longest freshwater lake and the deepest in Africa. Tanganyika has a depth of 4823 feet and measures 416 miles long. But mainly, Zambia is known for its wildlife, which includes the Big Five.
What is Zimbabwe Known For?
Zimbabwe is also a landlocked country, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia. Harare is the nation’s capital and also Zimbabwe’s largest city. This southern African country has five UNESCO World Heritage sites, including:
- The Khami Ruins
- Matobo Hills
- Great Zimbabwe National Monument
- Victoria Falls
- Mana Pools
Victoria Falls was named by Scottish explorer David Livingstone, who wanted to honor Queen Victoria. Its African name is Mosi-oa-tunya, meaning “The smoke that thunders.” It is not only a UNESCO World World Heritage site but also one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Zimbabwe shares Victoria Falls with Zambia, and it is the largest curtain of falling water on the planet. But, like Zambia, Zimbabwe is most famous for its incredible wildlife, including the big five.
The Big Five
The Big Five is a group of animals classified as the giants of Africa’s wildlife. They are not all necessarily big in stature, but they each make a significant impact.
Zambia has one of the biggest lion populations in Africa. They take great care of their wildlife, with more than 77,000 square miles of protected land, resulting in a lion population of around 1,200. Zambia’s lions live in two genetically distinct groups, separated by an area of agricultural land, rural communities, grazing land, and the capital, Lusaka. This middle ground was always considered lion-free, but researchers have recently discovered a small number of lions are moving across this area. Zimbabwe also has lions, but their numbers are significantly less than Zambia.
The leopard is one of Africa’s most common big cats. Zambia has the perfect landscape for these solitary animals. As a result, they are found throughout the country. Leopards prefer habitats with lots of places to hide, like riverine woodlands. It is unusual to see a leopard during the day, as they are shy and nocturnal. Therefore, there are records of these cats living in close proximity to humans without being detected for years. If you want to see one of these beauties, most of Zambia’s nature reserves offer evening game drives. Leopards occur both inside and outside of conservation areas in Zimbabwe, but hunting these cats is regulated in the country.
Elephants are the easiest to find when looking for the big five, but that doesn’t detract from the excitement of spotting one for the first time. These giants live in large families, and it’s common to find them cooling off in a lake or river during the warm summer. Interestingly, elephants have complex emotions and relationships, which is why they mourn their dead. You can find African elephants in conservation areas across Zambia and Zimbabwe. These giants will thrive as long as there is plenty of space, food, and water.
While there are five species of rhino in the world, only two call Zambia and Zimbabwe home, the white and black rhino. White rhinos prefer open grassland areas. However, black rhinos inhabit woodland areas. White rhinos are more social, as they live in groups of six or more consisting of females, juveniles, and calves. But, the males are usually solitary. Black rhinos are mostly solitary, but they do occupy overlapping territories. However, they can be semi-social and less territorial, depending on the habitat.
The Cape or African buffalo is a social ox-like animal that lives in massive herds. They prefer to inhabit savannas with access to lots of water and forested areas. While common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, they are widely distributed throughout Zambia and Zimbabwe. These massive angulates are generally peaceful but can be extremely dangerous, especially lone males.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © LizCoughlan/Shutterstock.com
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