Mongu

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Mongu
City
Litunga's Winter Palace
Litunga's Winter Palace
CountryFlag of Zambia.svg Zambia
ProvinceWestern Province
DistrictMongu District
Population (2010)
 • Total179,585

Mongu is the capital of Western Province in Zambia and was the capital of the formerly-named province and historic state, Barotseland. Its population is 179,585 (2010 census[1]), and it is also headquarters of Mongu District.

Geography

Mongu is situated on a small blunt promontory of higher ground on the eastern edge of the 30-kilometre-wide Barotse Floodplain of the Zambezi River running north-south, which in the wet season floods right up to the town. The city is 15 kilometres from the river's main channel, to which its small harbour is connected in the dry season by a 35-kilometre route via a canal and a meandering channel. The whole region is flat and sandy, with the dry land generally no more than 50 m higher than the floodplain.

Demographics

Mongu is the home city of the Lozi (or Barotse) people, who speak a language derived in part from that of the Makololo, related to the South African Sesotho language. The Lozi ruler, the Litunga, has a dry season palace 12 km north-west at Lealui on the floodplain, and a flood season palace on higher ground at Limulunga, 17 km north. The Kuomboka ceremony marks the court's transfer between the two locations.

At the end of the 18th century, a significant number of Mbunda from Angola settled here.[2]

Climate

The area has an annual average rainfall of 945 mm falling in the rainy season from late October to April. The flood usually arrives by January, peaks in April and is gone by June, leaving a floodplain green with new grass on which a population of about 250,000 moves in to graze a similar number of cattle, catch fish and raise crops in small gardens. Mongu is hot from September to December, with a mean maximum for October of 35.4°C, and cool from May to August, with a mean maximum in June of 26.9°C and a mean minimum of 10.3°C.

Climate data for Mongu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.2
(95.4)
35.6
(96.1)
38.2
(100.8)
39.0
(102.2)
33.4
(92.1)
31.6
(88.9)
32.5
(90.5)
35.3
(95.5)
38.2
(100.8)
38.4
(101.1)
36.7
(98.1)
36.7
(98.1)
39.0
(102.2)
Average high °C (°F) 28.9
(84)
28.6
(83.5)
29.1
(84.4)
29.6
(85.3)
28.4
(83.1)
26.5
(79.7)
27.0
(80.6)
29.8
(85.6)
33.4
(92.1)
33.8
(92.8)
31.3
(88.3)
29.3
(84.7)
29.6
(85.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.8
(73)
22.8
(73)
22.8
(73)
22.3
(72.1)
19.9
(67.8)
17.3
(63.1)
17.8
(64)
20.7
(69.3)
24.6
(76.3)
25.4
(77.7)
23.7
(74.7)
22.9
(73.2)
21.9
(71.4)
Average low °C (°F) 18.6
(65.5)
18.7
(65.7)
18.4
(65.1)
16.5
(61.7)
12.7
(54.9)
9.5
(49.1)
9.7
(49.5)
12.4
(54.3)
16.4
(61.5)
18.1
(64.6)
18.2
(64.8)
18.6
(65.5)
15.7
(60.3)
Record low °C (°F) 12.9
(55.2)
11.5
(52.7)
13.7
(56.7)
7.5
(45.5)
2.7
(36.9)
−1.6
(29.1)
0.3
(32.5)
−1.6
(29.1)
8.2
(46.8)
9.2
(48.6)
11.1
(52)
13.8
(56.8)
−1.6
(29.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 209.1
(8.232)
184.6
(7.268)
139.9
(5.508)
43.4
(1.709)
4.9
(0.193)
0.7
(0.028)
0.0
(0)
1.5
(0.059)
2.2
(0.087)
32.7
(1.287)
106.4
(4.189)
192.8
(7.591)
918.2
(36.15)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 19 16 14 4 0 0 0 0 0 5 13 19 90
Average relative humidity (%) 78.9 80.0 77.6 68.3 58.9 53.6 47.3 39.7 34.2 48.5 64.2 76.8 60.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 198.4 179.2 226.3 267.0 306.9 297.0 313.1 313.1 288.0 266.6 216.0 195.3 3,066.9
Source: NOAA[3]

Ecology

Three ecoregions are represented in Mongu and its vicinity: the floodplain comprises Zambezian flooded grasslands, while the higher dry ground is a mosaic of Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands and Cryptosepalum dry forests. To the east the soil is very sandy and there are many pans which dry out in the dry season, and beyond the Lui River no surface water is available so this zone of scrubby miombo woodland is practically uninhabited as far east as the Luampa River.

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Economy

Mongu lies at the end of the 610-km Great West Road from Lusaka which takes 6–8 hours to drive. An ambitious plan to extend the road west to Kalabo by building the 46-km Barotse Floodplain causeway has stalled due to technical and funding problems, with the embankments mostly in place but not paved and finished. The works on this road have resumed and are carried out in the dry season.

The city is known for basket and carpet weaving. It produces the best mango and fish in the country, especially the tiger fish. Mongu is also the major rice growing region of Zambia.

It is also home to a cathedral and a water tower, while among the several shopping places and social places, the town has a large market and an airport. Mongu Airport is mainly used by the Zambian Air Force and the United Nations to transport Angolan Refugees back to Angola. the town is also the location of the Nayuma Museum.

References

General references
Camerapix (1996). "Spectrum Guide to Zambia." Nairobi: Camerapix International Publishing. ISBN 1-874041-14-8.
Terracarta/International Travel Maps, Vancouver Canada: "Zambia, 2nd edition", 2000.
Google Earth has high-resolution photographs of Mongu.
http://www.barotseland.com/

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