1 minute read


Malawi, republic of east Africa lying west and south of Lake Malawi, and bordered by Tanzania to the north, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west.

Land and climate

Malawi has a area of about 45,747 sq mi (118,484 sq km), controls much of lakes Malawi and Chiuta, and includes Malambe, Chilwa, and several other large lakes. The lakes are part of the great Rift Valley, which crosses the region from north to south and includes the Shire River valley. Bordering highlands and plateaus average 3,500 ft (1,067 m) in height, and the Shire highlands in the south and southeast rise to 9,843 ft (3,000 m) at Mlanje Peak. The valleys are hot; the highland climate is moderate.


The people of Malawi are almost entirely Bantu-speaking black Africans. About 75% of the people are Christians with the balance professing Islam or practicing native religions. English and Chichewa are the country's official languages, though other African languages are spoken. The largest city is Blantyre, the capital is Lilongwe.


Malawi's economy is agricultural. Tea and tobacco are grown in the highlands; cotton in the lowlands. Other crops include peanuts, corn, rice, and sugar. There is some light industry at Blantyre and Lilongwe. The Shire River is harnessed for hydroelectricity at Nkula Falls. The country's mineral resources remain mostly undeveloped.


Seat of a powerful black African kingdom between the 15th and 18th centuries, Malawi was later prey to the slave trade. In 1859 the British missionary Dr. David Livingstone visited Malawi. An attempt by the Portuguese to seize the south was defeated leading to the establishment of a British protectorate in 1890. Shortly thereafter the area became known as Nyasaland. In 1953 the country entered the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but the association with white dominated Rhodesia was an uneasy one and lasted only until 1963. In 1964, Nyasaland became the independent state of Malawi. On July 6, 1966 it was proclaimed a republic under the presidency of Dr. Hastings K. Banda. Under Dr. Banda Malawi has pursued a controversial foreign policy of openly maintaining relations with South Africa. After years of one party rule, Banda introduced a multi party system and was succeeded by Bakili Muluzi in 1994.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Lyon, Mary to Manu