As per 2010 Zambian census, Zambia’s population was 13,092,666. Zambia is significantly ethnically diverse, with a total of 73 ethnic tribes. During the country’s occupation by the British, between 1911 and 1963, the country attracted immigrants from Europe and the Indian subcontinent, the latter of whom came specifically as labourers. While most Europeans left after the collapse of white minority rule, a fair number of Asians still remain.

In the first recorded census—conducted on 7 May 1911—there were a total of 1,497 Europeans; 39 Asiatics and estimated 820,000 Africans. Black Africans were not counted in all six census exercises—conducted in 1911, 1921, 1931, 1946, 1951, and 1956—prior to independence. By 1956, when the last census prior to independence was conducted, there were 65,277 Europeans; 5,450 Asiatics; 5,450 Coloureds and an estimated 2,100,000 Africans.

In the 2010 population census, 98.2% were Black Africans and the remaining 1.8% consisting of other major racial groups.

Zambia is one of the most highly urbanised countries in sub-Saharan Africa with 44% of the population concentrated in a few urban areas along the major transport corridors, while rural areas are sparsely populated. The fertility rate was 6.2 as of 2007 (6.1 in 1996, 5.9 in 2001–02).

The onset of industrial copper mining on the Copperbelt in the late 1920s triggered rapid and concentrated urbanisation. Although levels of urbanisation were overestimated during the colonial period, it was nevertheless substantial. Mining townships on the Copperbelt soon dwarfed existing centres of population and continued to grow rapidly following Zambian independence. Economic decline on the Copperbelt from the 1970s to the 1990s has altered patterns of urban development but the country’s population remains concentrated around the railway and roads running south from the Copperbelt through Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka, Choma and Livingstone.