About Western Province

Introduction

With the total land area of 126,385 km², Western Province is the largest administrative region in Zambia. The Provincial Capital is Mongu. The province shares boundaries with Angola to the west, Namibia to the south. Internally, the province is bordered to the east by Central province, to the north by North-Western province and to the southeast by Southern province.

Physical Features
The geography of the province is dominated by the Barotse floodplains of the Zambezi River, extending from the confluence of the Zambezi with the Lungwebungu and Kabompo Rivers as the Northern border of the province, to a point below Senanga and above the Ngonye falls in the south. This floodplain is inundated from December to June, and is fed by other rivers with their own floodplains, and serves as a vast reservoir storing the waters of the Zambezi. The seasonal flooding is very important to agriculture in the province, proving natural irrigation for the grasslands on which huge herds of cattle depend, and bringing water to the settlements along the edges of the plain. Away from the Zambezi and its tributaries, much of the landscape is gently undulating series of fossil sand dunes of the Kalahari Desert with numerous lagoons, pans and seasonal swamps in hollows between the dunes. Dry grassland plains, teak forest, Miombo woodlands and patches of evergreen Cryptosepalum forest cover the land.

Western Province consists of a vast sandy upland plain at an altitude of 1 188 meters in the west sloping gently to 814 meters in the southeast. Upland plain is intersected by floodplains of the Zambezi river and its tributaries covering an area of 12 950 square kilometers. About 75 percent of the province is covered with forests most of which is open woodlands. The Kalahari sands favour growth of significant timber trees of Zambia such as mukusi, mukwa and muzauli.

Demography
Population factors are an integral part of any country’s development processes. The population characteristics of Western Province, its size, composition, structure, distribution, growth rates, as well as the basic demographic processes of fertility, mortality and migration affect and are in turn affected by development.

The population for Western Province increased from 638,756 in 1990 to 765,088 in 2000 and to 881, 524 in 2010. Of the total provincial population, 47.0 percent were males and 53.0 percent were females. The average annual growth rate for the province for the period between 2000 and 2010 was 1.4 percent.

Among the districts, Lukulu had the highest rate of growth at 2.1 percent followed by Shangombo 2.0 and Sesheke at 1.9 percent. Kaoma and Mongu had the lowest growth rates of 1 percent each.

Kaoma had the largest share of population at 20.3 percent fol¬lowed by Mongu 20.2 percent and Kalabo 15.1 percent. Lukulu District had the smallest share of population with 9.5 percent.  Table 2.0, gives the population estimates:
The size and growth rate of a population are primarily a function of the interplay of three demographic processes, namely, fertility, mortality and migration. Many factors are responsible for the high fertility level in the Province and the country at large. These include cultural and institutional factors such as low age at first marriage; low education levels particularly among females; high levels of infant and child mortality; the perceived economic rationale of large family size since many children may provide some economic benefits to parents such as insurance in old age and in times of need; and the low socio-economic status of women.

Climate
Average minimum and maximum temperature over the year. On average, the temperatures are always high. Most rainfall is seen in January, February, March, November and December. The dry periods are in May, June, July, August, September and October

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