Area: 118 484 kmº
Population: 15 028 757 (Est. 2009)
GDP: US$ 13 149 billion (Est. 2010)
Per Capita Annual Income: US$ 900 – Nr 220 out of 230 countries.
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in south east Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. The country is also nicknamed, “The Warm Heart of Africa”
The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi’s eastern boundary with Mozambique.
The jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions is Lake Malawi, “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. Although totally landlocked, Malawi is not denied its “inland sea”. This vast body of freshwater fringed by beaches of golden sand is not only a scenic wonderland but it provides water sport opportunities for those looking for something beyond sun, sand and swimming. Its approximate dimensions are 365 miles/ 584km north to south and 52 miles/83.2km broad, hence the sobriquet: “the calendar lake”. The Lake, in the north, is quite extraordinarily deep: 700m, plunging well below sea level. This reflects the enormity of the natural faulting of the Great Rift Valley, which is the origin of the Lake. The width of the lake’s shorelands, vary from nothing to over 25km, the edge of the Rift Valley rising steeply in places and more gently in others.
The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 400 km farther south in Mozambique. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 457 above sea level, with a maximum depth of 701m, which means the lake bottom is over 213m below sea level at some points.
Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe, and its commercial center and largest city is Blantyre, with a population of over 500,000 people. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006.
Malawi was first settled during the 10th century and remained under native rule until 1891 when it was colonized by the British, who ruled the country until 1964. Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he was ousted from power.
Malawi is among the world’s least developed and most densely populated countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in growing the economy, improving education, health care and the environmental protection and becoming financially independent. Malawi has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country’s outlook appears to be improving, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.
Because of its rich fish harvest, the Lake plays an important part in the economy. Fishing villages are scattered along the shore and the traditional industry and practices are an attraction to visitors. Access to the Lake is possible along much of its length but it should be noted that it is usually necessary to take a short detour off the main roads in order to reach the beach. Despite the attraction the Lake has to settlement, there are long stretches of totally uninhabited golden sand lakeshore, lapped by crystal clear waters. Kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving and water skiing are just some of the lake activities available to visitors.
Cape Maclear and the Lake Malawi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.In recent years, a number of high quality lodges have been built in this area. Senga Bay is another place where there are a number of lodges & hotels, and it benefits from being the closest point on the lake to Lilongwe.
SENGA POINT: (Livingstone Hotel)
Senga Bay is a resort on Lake Malawi 16 km from Salima . Here you can find luxury hotels. The sandy beach stretches for 10 kilometers. Senga is a popular weekend destination for residents of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
Nkhata Bay is primarily a port town, but has grown as a centre for independent travelers. The Northern Lakeshore beyond Chitimba has fewer lodges, and Karonga, an important archeological centre, is the only town of note before reaching Tanzania.
Karonga is the main border from Tanzania into Malawi, and the township is called Karonga Boma. Over the last 5 years, there has been much development in the region due to the discovery of Uranium, and many of the previously-gravelled roads have been laid with tarmac.
There are many hotels and guesthouses in Karonga, along the shore of Lake Malawi, however swimming is not recommended as Bilharzia is rife in this area.
A recent discovery of pre-historic tools and remains of hominids in Malawi’s remote northern district of Karonga provides further proof that the area could be the cradle of humankind. Professor Friedemann Schrenk of the Goethe University in Frankfurt told Reuters News that two students working on the excavation site in September, 2009 had discovered prehistoric tools and a tooth of a hominid. “This latest discovery of prehistoric tools and remains of hominids provides additional proof to the theory that the Great Rift Valley of Africa and perhaps the excavation site near Karonga can be considered the cradle of humankind.” Schrenk said. The site also contains some of the earliest dinosaurs which lived between 100 million and 140 million years ago and early hominids believed to have lived between a million and 6 million years ago. The discovery was at Malema excavation site 10 km from Karonga. (from a Reuters news report on October 23, 2009)
Most of the information comes from Wikipedia, Wikitravel and Lonely Planet.