On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the inaugural president. Kaunda's socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. Kaunda played a key role in regional diplomacy, cooperating closely with the United States in search of solutions to conflicts in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, and Namibia. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state with the UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto "One Zambia, One Nation". Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, beginning a period of social-economic growth and government decentralisation. Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's chosen successor, presided over Zambia from January 2002 until his death in August 2008, and is credited with campaigns to reduce corruption and increase the standard of living. After Mwanawasa's death, Rupiah Banda presided as Acting President before being elected President in 2008. Holding office for only three years, Banda stepped down after his defeat in the 2011 elections by Patriotic Front party leader Michael Sata. Sata died on 28 October 2014, making him the second Zambian president to die in office.Guy Scott served briefly as interim president until new elections were held on 20 January 2015, in which Edgar Lungu was elected as the sixth President.
The territory of what is now Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia from 1911. It was renamed Zambia at independence in 1964.
The new name of Zambia was derived from the Zambezi river (Zambezi may mean "Grand River").