The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the former British South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices, economic mismanagement, and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule and propelled the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to government. The subsequent vote in 1996, however, saw increasing harassment of opposition parties and abuse of state media and other resources. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems, with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy MWANAWASA. MWANAWASA was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair. Upon his death in August 2008, he was succeeded by his vice president, Rupiah BANDA, who won a special presidential byelection later that year. The MMD and BANDA lost to the Patriotic Front (PF) and Michael SATA in the 2011 general elections. SATA, however, presided over a period of haphazard economic management and attempted to silence opposition to PF policies. SATA died in October 2014 and was succeeded by his vice president, Guy SCOTT, who served as interim president until January 2015, when Edgar LUNGU won the presidential byelection and completed SATA's term. LUNGU then won a full term in August 2016 presidential elections.
Zambia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the ten years up to 2014, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed in 2015 and 2016 to just under 3%, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer.Despite recent strong economic growth and its status as a lower middle-income country, widespread and extreme rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain significant problems, made worse by a high birth rate, a relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, and by market-distorting agricultural and energy policies. Zambia has raised $7 billion from international investors by issuing separate sovereign bonds in 2012, 2014, and 2015, significantly increasing the country’s public debt burden to 56% of GDP; the government plans to refinance $2.8 billion worth of Eurobonds in 2017 to cut debt servicing costs.Poor management of water resources has also contributed to a power generation shortage, which has hampered industrial productivity and contributed to an increase in year-on-year inflation to more than 20% in 2016. Zambia’s currency, the kwacha, also depreciated sharply against the dollar through 2015 and 2016, leading the central bank to restrict lending. Rampant spending in recent years has increased the fiscal deficit—over 8% in 2015—and may encourage the government to seek external financing from the IMF to fund the shortfall.