大约2000年前，赞比亚的土着狩猎采集者开始被更先进的迁徙部落取代或吸收。班图语移民的主要浪潮始于15世纪，17世纪末至19世纪初期涌入人数最多。他们主要来自刚果民主共和国南部和安哥拉北部的卢巴和隆达部落。在19世纪，南方的Ngoni人涌入了Mfecane。到本世纪后半叶，赞比亚各族人民大多建立在他们目前占领的地区。除了偶尔的葡萄牙探险家外，该地区几个世纪以来一直没有受到欧洲人的影响。 19世纪中叶以后，它被西方探险家，传教士和商人所渗透。大卫·利文斯通（David Livingstone）于1855年成为第一个看到赞比西河上壮丽瀑布的欧洲人。他将维多利亚女王命名为瀑布，瀑布附近的赞比亚小镇以他的名字命名。 1888年，带领英国在中非的商业和政治利益的塞西尔罗德斯获得了当地酋长的矿权特许权。同年，北罗得西亚和南罗得西亚（现分别为赞比亚和津巴布韦）被宣布为英国势力范围。南罗得西亚于1923年正式兼并并获得自治政府，北罗得西亚政府于1924年被移交给英国殖民地办公室作为保护国。 1953年，罗德西亚与尼亚萨兰（现马拉维）一起组建了罗得西亚和尼亚萨兰联邦。北罗得西亚是过去几年联邦政府的大部分动荡和危机的中心。争议的核心是非洲坚持要求更多地参与政府和欧洲失去政治控制的担忧。 1962年10月和12月举行的两阶段选举导致立法委员会中的非洲多数选举以及两个非洲民族主义政党之间的不安联盟。该委员会通过决议，呼吁北罗得西亚脱离联邦，并要求根据新宪法和基于更广泛，更民主的特许经营的新国民议会进行全面的内部自治。 1963年12月31日，联邦解散，1964年10月24日，北罗得西亚成为赞比亚共和国。独立后，尽管拥有丰富的矿产资源，但赞比亚面临重大挑战。在国内，很少有训练有素且受过良好教育的赞比亚人能够管理政府，经济在很大程度上依赖于外国的专业知识。
The indigenous hunter-gatherer occupants of Zambia began to be displaced or absorbed by more advanced migrating tribes about 2,000 years ago. The major waves of Bantu-speaking immigrants began in the 15th century, with the greatest influx between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. They came primarily from the Luba and Lunda tribes of southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Angola. In the 19th century, there was an additional influx by Ngoni peoples from the south escaping the Mfecane. By the latter part of that century, the various peoples of Zambia were largely established in the areas they currently occupy. Except for an occasional Portuguese explorer, the area lay untouched by Europeans for centuries. After the mid-19th century, it was penetrated by Western explorers, missionaries, and traders. David Livingstone, in 1855, was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River. He named the falls after Queen Victoria, and the Zambian town near the falls is named after him. In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained a mineral rights concession from local chiefs. In the same year, Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively) were proclaimed a British sphere of influence. Southern Rhodesia was annexed formally and granted self-government in 1923, and the administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British colonial office in 1924 as a protectorate. In 1953, both Rhodesias were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Northern Rhodesia was the center of much of the turmoil and crisis that characterized the federation in its last years. At the core of the controversy were insistent African demands for greater participation in government and European fears of losing political control. A two-stage election held in October and December 1962 resulted in an African majority in the legislative council and an uneasy coalition between the two African nationalist parties. The council passed resolutions calling for Northern Rhodesia’s secession from the federation and demanding full internal self-government under a new constitution and a new national assembly based on a broader, more democratic franchise. On December 31, 1963, the federation was dissolved, and Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 1964. At independence, despite its considerable mineral wealth, Zambia faced major challenges. Domestically, there were few trained and educated Zambians capable of running the government, and the economy was largely dependent on foreign expertise.