total: 118,484 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,404 sq km
Total: 2,857 m
border countries (3):
Mozambique 1,498 km,
Tanzania 512 km,
Zambia 847 km
Coastline: 0 km
rainy season (November to May);
dry season (May to November)
narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
mean elevation: 779 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m
limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
agricultural land: 59.2%
arable land 38.2%; permanent crops 1.4%; permanent pasture 19.6%
other: 6.8% (2011 est.)
740 sq km (2012)
Population – distribution:
population density is the highest south of Lake Nyasa
People and Society
Malawi has made great improvements in maternal and child health but has made less progress in reducing its high fertility rate. In both rural and urban areas, very high proportions of mothers are receiving prenatal care and skilled birth assistance, and most children are being vaccinated. Malawi’s fertility rate, however, has only declined slowly, decreasing from more than 7 children per woman in the 1980s to about 5.5 today. Nonetheless, Malawians prefer smaller families than in the past, and women are increasingly using contraceptives to prevent or space pregnancies. Rapid population growth and high population density are putting pressure on Malawi’s land, water, and forest resources. Reduced plot sizes and increasing vulnerability to climate change, further threaten the sustainability of Malawi’s agriculturally based economy and will worsen food shortages. About 80% of the population is employed in agriculture.
Historically, Malawians migrated abroad in search of work, primarily to South Africa and present-day Zimbabwe, but international migration became uncommon after the 1970s, and most migration in recent years has been internal. During the colonial period, Malawians regularly migrated to southern Africa as contract farm laborers, miners, and domestic servants. In the decade and a half after independence in 1964, the Malawian Government sought to transform its economy from one dependent on small-scale farms to one based on estate agriculture. The resulting demand for wage labor induced more than 300,000 Malawians to return home between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. In recent times, internal migration has generally been local, motivated more by marriage than economic reasons.
Chewa 35.1%, Lomwe 18.9%, Yao 13.1%, Ngoni 12%, Tumbuka 9.4%, Sena 3.5%, Tonga 1.8%, Nyanja 1%, Nkhonde 0.9%, other 1.8% (2015-16 est.)
English (official), Chichewa (common), Chinyanja, Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe, Chinkhonde, Chingoni, Chisena, Chitonga, Chinyakyusa, Chilambya
Protestant 27.2% (includes Church of Central Africa Presbyterian 17.7%, Seventh Day Adventist/Baptist 6.9%, Anglican 2.6%), Catholic 18.4%, other Christian 41%, Muslim 12.1%, other 0.3%, none 1% (2015-16 est.)
Ethnicity, Language, and Religion
The Malawi people are of Bantu origin and comprise of many different ethnic groups. These include Chewa, Nyanja, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian and European. The Chichewa (Chewa) people form the largest part of the population group and are largely in the central and southern parts of Malawi. The Yao people are predominately found around the southern area of Lake Malawi and the Tumbuka are found mainly in the north of the country.(There are small populations of Asian and European people living mainly in the cities.
Malawi is often called the “Warm Heart of Africa.” because of the warmth and friendliness of the people. Malawians typically live with their extended families in huts that are grouped together in villages. A spirit of cooperation prevails as family members share both work and resources. As you drive through Malawi you can see the small villages of huts and people at work in the fields or collecting water for their families.
Numerous Bantu languages and dialects are spoken. Chichewa, the language of the Chewa and Nyanja, is spoken by more than half the population, but the Lomwe, Yao, and Tumbuka have their own widely spoken languages, respectively known as Chilomwe, Chiyao, and Chitumbuka. English and Chichewa are the official languages. From 1968 to 1994, Chewa was the only national language; it is now one of the numerous languages used in print and broadcast media and is spoken by a majority of the population. Since 1996, education in grades 1–4 has been provided in the students’ mother tongue or vernacular language; from grade 5, the medium of instruction would be English, which, though understood by less than one-fifth of the population at independence in 1964, continues to be used widely in business, administrative and judicial matters, higher education, and elsewhere. Other major languages include Lomwe, Yao, and Tumbuka.
As of a 2017 report, it is believed that more than 85% of the population is Christian, with the largest groups being affiliated with the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian—CCAP) churches. There are smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, Evangelicals, and Seventh-Day Adventists. Muslims account for approximately 20% of the population, with most belonging to the Sunni sect. Tribal religionists account for a small percentage of the population. There are also small numbers of Hindus and Baha’is. Certain Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated as national holidays.
The government established free primary education for all children in 1994, which increased attendance rates, according to UNICEF. In 1994, the gross primary enrollment rate was 133.9 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 102.6 percent. Primary education is compulsory (Revised Education Act 2012). In 1994, free primary education for all children was established by the government, which increased attendance rates. Dropout rates are higher for girls than boys, attributed to security problems during the long travel to school, as girls face a higher prevalence of gender-based violence. Education in Malawi comprises eight years of primary education, four years of secondary school and four years of university.
Primarily schools are mostly in two categories of assisted (public) and unassisted (private) schools. Villages and hamlets throughout the country have such schools. About 12 percent of all primary school students attended private, predominantly church-run schools. Secondary education developed late in Malawi, because of little effort or neglect in secondary education during the colonial era. Malawi has five types of secondary schools. These include aided boarding schools, aided day schools, government boarding-secondary schools, government day secondary schools, and private secondary schools. Most secondary teachers are qualified and hold either degrees or diplomas.
There are four public universities in Malawi, namely; Mzuzu University (MZUNI), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), University of Malawi (UNIMA) and Malawi University of Science and Technology(MUST). Besides these, there are also private universities like; Livingstonia, Malawi Lakeview, Catholic University of Malawi, African Bible College, UNICAF University, MIM etc. The entry requirement is six credits on the Malawi School Certificate of Education certificate which is equivalent to O levels.
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world’s least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. Malawi has been able to make important economic and structural reforms and sustain its economic growth rates over the last decade. Nevertheless, poverty remains widespread, and the economy undiversified and vulnerable to external shocks. The country’s development is guided by a series of five-year growth and development strategies, the third and current one covering 2017-2022, focusing on education, energy, agriculture, health, and tourism.
In 2017, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth picked up to 4% from 2.5% in 2016. The growth outlook for 2018 is likely to be adversely impacted by an anticipated negative impact of erratic rains and fall armyworm infestation on agriculture production. Despite external shocks, the government managed to contain fiscal slippages with the deficit narrowing to 4.8% of GDP. After six years of double-digit inflation, the headline rate has receded to single-digit levels (7.8% in February 2018), driven by a sustained fall in food inflation due to affordable maize on domestic markets. The Kwacha has remained stable since August 2016 (at MWK730 to US$1). This stability and the decline in average oil prices also exerted downward pressure on non-food inflation.
Encouraging progress has been made in human development in recent years. Life expectancy is up to 63.9 years in 2017 from 62.8 in 2016. The total fertility rate is down to 4.4 children per woman from 6.7 between 1992-2015/16. Self-reported literacy (reading and writing in any language) is 81% percent for males and 66% for females (15+ years of age). However, poverty and inequality remain stubbornly high. One in two people in rural areas are poor (note that the official poverty estimation for 2016/17 is being prepared using the Fourth Integrated Household Survey). Poverty is driven by poor performance of the agriculture sector, volatile economic growth, population growth, and limited opportunities in non-farm activities.
Malawi’s challenges are multi-pronged. Vulnerability to external shocks (e.g. weather, health) is a major challenge. The weather will remain a key part of the economic cycle, with the negative impact of bad weather compounded by factors such as population growth and environmental degradation. Shortage of energy still stands out with about 10% of the population having access to electricity. Infrastructure development, the manufacturing base, and adoption of technology are low. Corruption levels seem to be worsening with Transparency International ranking Malawi at 120/175 economies in 2017 compared to 112 in 2016.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$21.15 billion (2016 est.)
$20.37 billion (2015 est.)
$19.57 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$5.433 billion (2016 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
2.5% (2016 est.)
2.8% (2015 est.)
5.7% (2014 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$1,200 (2016 est.)
$1,200 (2015 est.)
$1,100 (2014 est.)
Gross national saving:
3.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
4.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
6.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
services: 56.1% (2016 est.)
Agriculture – products:
tobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee; cattle, goats
tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Population below poverty line:
50.7% (2010 est.)
revenues: $1.346 billion
expenditures: $1.556 billion (2017 est.)
Agriculture is the sector in which Malawi competes most successfully in international markets. Tobacco, tea, sugar, and coffee are Malawi’s most important cash crops, but exporters have also registered growing success with groundnuts and macadamia nuts. Agricultural diversification is important for Malawi. U.S. goods or technical knowledge that could be adapted in a cost-effective manner to Malawi’s agricultural conditions and boost the quality, quantity, or diversity of crops might find a profitable market. Opportunities for investment in irrigation exist in Malawi’s still largely rain-fed agricultural sector. Horticultural products such as vegetables, flowers, fruits, and rice, can be grown using surface, gravity, pump, river diversion, or sprinkler irrigation systems. Out of the 400,000 hectares of land suitable for irrigation, only 74,000 hectares are currently under irrigation.
Malawi grows significant quantities of soybeans. This high protein value crop is currently being processed for breakfast cereal for infants and HIV/AIDS patients, additives for meat, bakery, and animal feed, for soy milk, and for the manufacture of soap. Malawi has a history of supplying groundnuts (peanuts) to the global market, and its yields compete with or exceed regional competitors despite smallholder farmers’ use of low-quality seed and less advanced farming techniques. Maize is Malawi’s staple food, resulting in high demand for maize and maize products. Today, the majority of Malawi’s maize production is undertaken by smallholder farmers. Malawi is the world’s third largest producer of pigeon peas, which are consumed both locally and abroad. Malawi’s pigeon peas are valued in India for their unique flavor, and Malawi’s harvest season coincides with India’s dry season, offering market synergies and a premium price during India’s shortage period. Malawi’s sugarcane productivity and yields are over 60% higher than the regional average, indicating the country has a comparative advantage in sugarcane.
Malawi’s milk consumption is the lowest in Africa at 5 liters per capita compared with Africa’s average of 80 liters and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended intake of 200 liters per year. The livestock industry as a whole is not well developed in Malawi. In addition to the dairy sector, opportunities exist for investment in cattle farming for beef and meat products. The existing cattle population, livestock culture, and available land in Mzimba District in Northern Malawi make it a suitable area for investment in cattle farming. Mzimba town, Camphire, and Euthini have the basic power, transport, and water infrastructure to support investment in processing industries. In the poultry industry, there is a potentially significant market for day-old chicks, many of which are currently imported from South Africa. Malawi’s production of broilers and layers is expanding to meet increasing domestic demand for poultry and eggs, and there is scope for investment in the expansion of broiler and layer breeding and production.
A recent study of agricultural investment opportunities in Malawi identified cassava, cotton, macadamia nuts, rice, and tea as sub-sectors with potential for medium- to long-term growth. According to the study, value addition in these chains could be a significant medium- to long-term opportunity, as the commodities currently are consumed or exported with limited processing.
population without electricity: 14,900,000
electrification – total population: 9%
electrification – urban areas: 32%
electrification – rural areas: 4% (2013)
Electricity – production:
2.12 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – consumption:
1.972 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – exports:
0 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity – imports:
0 MW (2015 est.)
Electricity – installed generating capacity:
372,600 kW (2017 est.)
Electricity – from fossil fuels:
5.8% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity – from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Telephones – fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 11,234
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (July 2016 est.)
Telephones – mobile cellular:
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37 (July 2016 est.)
Internet country code:
percent of population: 9.6% (July 2016 est.)
Although a small and under-developed sector contributed roughly 19% to the country’s GDP, the industry is nevertheless an important contributor to the country’s GDP. But the burdens it struggles under are substantial. Hampered by the variability of the agricultural sector on which it is based, high transport costs, a small domestic market, and a poorly skilled work-force increasingly undermined by HIV/AIDS, Malawi’s industries must also contend with a dependence on imported resources. This dependence largely robs the industrial sector of any benefit from successive depreciations of the kwacha and means Malawi’s goods, despite low wage rates, often do not fare well against regional competitors.
The majority of Malawi’s industrial activity (85 percent) comes from manufacturing, a sector that in 2000 generated around 14 percent of GDP. Malawian manufacturing is carried out by about 100 companies involved in agricultural processing, textiles, clothing, and footwear production. The concentration of this activity is another legacy of Hastings Banda’s accumulation of wealth and power during the 30 years of his rule. The Press Corporation Limited (PCL), founded by Banda, is an example of how this legacy continues to distort Malawi’s economic structure. A hugely diverse syndicate of brewing, clothing, oil, pharmaceutical, banking, and agricultural concerns with a total revenue equivalent to about 10 percent of GDP, PCL’s monopolies in many industries further undermine competitiveness. Nationalized in 1997, the company is scheduled for dismantling and sale, although few of its assets are likely to attract the necessary interest.
Mining remains small-scale, and Malawi has no precious metals or oil, but ruby mining began in the mid-1990s, with Malawi the only source of rubies in Africa. Malawi also has deposits of bauxite, asbestos, graphite, and uranium. After the establishment in 1985 of a government mines department and a national mining agency to explore the feasibility of exploiting various minerals, bauxite and titanium reserves in the south were singled out for development. Although the supporting infrastructure is weak, some foreign investment has been attracted.
World Bank analysis suggests that the market for manufacturing is limited in part due to Malawi’s relatively small domestic market; while the shortage of skilled workers, low productivity and high transport costs in Malawi limit the capacity for the exportation of manufactured goods. The 2012-2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report rates Malawi as 131 out of 144 countries based on production process sophistication, scoring 2.6 out of 7, where 7 is the most desirable. This is the fairly standard score for the region, with Mozambique having a similar score of 127 and 2.7 respectively.
Banking and Finance
Malawi has a generally sound banking sector, overseen and regulated by the Reserve Bank of Malawi — the central bank. The banking sector, relatively shallow, has remained largely stable, helped by the fact that it is largely not integrated into the global financial system. The country’s banking sector, which includes 13 commercial banks with over 70 branches across the country, remains well capitalized and profitable. Prudential regulations have limited net foreign exchange exposure and non-performing loans remain low, though spreads continue to be high. The sector is however highly concentrated.
Malawi neither has nor requires depositor insurance, but the RBM enforces safeguards and capital requirements. The RBM has guidelines on capital adequacy, liquidity ratio, etc., and adopted Basel II standards in January 2014. International accounting standards adopted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (ICAM) apply to banks. Bank financial statements are in compliance with these standards and are audited by internationally recognized firms including KPMG, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte.
The supply of fixed income securities remains rather limited and consists almost exclusively of short-term government securities, though one commercial bank has recently introduced bonds in the market. The investor base, for its part, remains small and dominated by commercial banks and discount houses. The secondary market is small and operations are mainly centered on the activities of two discount houses which buy and re-sell Treasury securities. There is currently no derivatives market in the country, though the securities law is currently being revised to potentially allow derivatives trading.
Most insurance firms operating in Malawi are owned or sponsored by parent companies in the United Kingdom. However, the leading company, the National Insurance Co. (NICO), is owned by Malawi interests. There were seven insurance companies in operation in 1997. Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory.
Malawi has a massive diversity of beautiful landscapes. The highest peaks in Malawi touch 10 000ft (3 000m) while the lowest point is barely above sea level. This range of altitudes in a small area helps to make the landscape of Malawi one of the most varied in all Africa. It is generally a green, lush country, with plateaux, highlands, forests, mountains, plains, escarpments and dramatic river valleys. The variety of scenery is a major attraction to visitors and many of the highland areas and forest reserves have good accommodation options and plenty of outdoor activities available.
Malawi is blessed with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has no less than nine National Parks or Wildlife Reserves. Whilst it may not have quite the sheer numbers of large mammals (particularly predators) as some of its better-known neighbors, it makes up for this in other ways. Malawi provides intensive and exclusive wildlife viewing in unspoiled areas of genuine wilderness. 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.
Place of Attraction
The Rift Valley is the dominant feature, providing the vast chasm that Lake Malawi fills, and extending to the south of the country following the Shire River that drains the Lake.
The widespread highlands and forests that provide the most impressive of Malawi’s varied scenery. Up where the air is fresh and cool are clear mountain streams, heaths, rolling montane grassland and evergreen forests.
Malawi is blessed with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has no less than nine National Parks or Wildlife Reserves. Whilst it may not have quite the sheer numbers of large mammals (particularly predators) as some of its better-known neighbors, it makes up for this in other ways. Malawi provides intensive and exclusive wildlife viewing in unspoiled areas of genuine wilderness.
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 sports opportunities for those looking for something beyond the sun, sand, and swimming. Its approximate dimensions are 365 miles north to south and 52 miles broad, hence the sobriquet: “the calendar lake”.
Malawi has a wide range of Arts to show, from traditional dance to up and coming hip-hop artists. There are many opportunities to see local artists, from small concerts to the internationally renowned Lake of Stars music festival.
Malawi is one of the major Rift Valley lakes and an ancient lake. The lake lies in a valley formed by the opening of the East African Rift, where the African tectonic plate is being split into two pieces. This is called a divergent plate tectonics boundary. Malawi has typically been estimated to be 1—2 million years old, but more recent evidence points to a considerably older lake with a basin that started to form about 8.6 million years ago and deep-water condition first appeared 4.5 million years ago. The water levels have varied dramatically over time, ranging from almost 600 m (2,000 ft) below current level to 10–20 m (33–66 ft) above. A hominid jawbone was discovered near Uraha village that was between 2.3 and 2.5 million years old, the oldest evidence of the genus Homo ever discovered.
A water chemistry resembling the current conditions only appeared about 60,000 years ago. Major low-water periods are estimated to have occurred about 1.6 to 1.0—0.57 million years ago (where it might have dried out completely), 420,000 to 250,000—110,000 years ago, about 25,000 years ago and 18,000–10,700 years ago. Early humans inhabited the vicinity of Lake Malawi 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Human remains at a site dated about 8000 BC show physical characteristics similar to peoples living today in the Horn of Africa. At another site, dated 1500 BC, the remains possess features resembling San people. These short people with copper-colored skin were known as the Akafula or Batwa. They are responsible for the rock paintings found south of Lilongwe in Chencherere and Mphunzi. To learn more about some of the main archaeology sites in Malawi go to the Archaeology of Malawi page.
The eastern coast of the continent of Africa has been the focal point of major international trade all the way back to the days of Phoenician traders at the time of Christ. But even before this time, as far back as BC 8000 pygmy descendants flourished in a number of sites in the area of present-day Malawi. Evidence has been found of human skeletons, flint arrowheads, and imaginative paintings in their cave dwellings are still in evidence today. Records indicate a thriving trade existed between the Shirazi Arabs of Persia and the east coast of the continent as far back as AD 1000. By AD 1300 the Swahili city-states from the region around present-day Somalia, to as far south as today’s Mozambique coast, were involved in trade relations with the Arab world.
By the 10th and 11th centuries AD, coinciding with the Iron Age, the Bantu tribes began migrating into the area from the Congo. The consolidation of these tribes, into what would be known as the Marvai Empire, was reported during the 16th century by the arrival of Portuguese traders.
The Maravi Empire
Beginning as early as the thirteenth century, the first signs of a large-scale migration of related clans entered the region of Lake Malawi. Traditional accounts indicate that these people originated in the Congo Basin to the west of Lake Mweru, in an area that subsequently formed part of the Luba Kingdom. The movement continued during the succeeding two or three centuries, but it appears certain that by the sixteenth century the main body of these people, known collectively as the Maravi, were settled in the Shire River valley and over a wide area lying generally west and southwest of Lake Malawi, including parts of present-day Zambia and Mozambique.
The first (colonial) historical account of the Maravi was by Gaspar Boccaro, a Portuguese man who traveled through their territory in 1616. The picture presented in the 1660s by Father Manuel Barretto, a Jesuit priest, was of a strong, economically active confederation that swept an area from the coast of Mozambique between the Zambezi River and the bay of Quelimane for several hundred miles into the mainland. An account from the following century implied that the western limits of the confederation were near the Luangwa River and that it extended on the north to the Dwangwa River.
“Maravi” is, therefore, a general name of the peoples of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and the eastern part of Zimbabwe. The Chewa language, which is also referred to as Nyanja, Chinyanja or Chichewa, and is spoken in southern and central Malawi, in Zambia and to some extent in Mozambique, is the main language that emerged from this empire. Thus, Maravi was a kingdom which straddled the current borders of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, in the 16th century. The present-day name “Maláŵi” is said to derive from the Chichewa word “malaŵí”, which means “flames”. At its greatest extent, the state included territory from the Tonga and Tumbuka people’s areas in the north to the Lower Shire in the south, and as far west as the Luangwa and Zambezi river valleys. Maravi’s rulers belonged to the Mwale matriclan and held the title Kalonga. They ruled from Manthimba, the secular/administrative capital, and were the driving force behind the state’s establishment.
The Maravi Confederacy was founded by the Bantu people immigrating into the valley of the Shire River (flowing out of Lake Nyassa) around 1480 AD. It prospered into the late 18th century, extending to reach what is now belonging to Zambia and Mozambique. In the 19th century, the neighboring Yao raided on them, selling captive Maravi on the slave markets of Kilwa and Zanzibar. In the 1860s, Islam was introduced into the region through contact with Swahili slave traders.
The Arrival of European
The location of Malawi was known to the Arabs and Swahili of the east coast through the Yao. Later on, it was the Portuguese who learned of the existence of Lake Malawi. After the Portuguese arrival in the area in the 16th century, the next significant Western contact was the arrival of David Livingstone along the shore of Lake Malawi in 1859. In 1861 under Bishop Mackenzie missionaries of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (U.M.C.A) were sent to open a mission in Magomero where the Yao were already Muslims. The bishop and Livingstone took the side of the Mang’anja in the politics of that area. Wars between the Yao and Bishop Mackenzie were fought. Crops and villages of the Yao were burnt by Livingstone and Bishop Mackenzie.
After the failure of the U.M.C.A. in Magomero, Scottish Presbyterian churches established missions in Malawi in 1876. The target once again was the Yao Muslims who had embraced Islam earlier than the 1870s. By the time the Established Church of Scotland came to Malawi, they found chief Kapeni a Yao Muslim ruling what is known as Blantyre today. Many of Amangochi Yao of Kapeni succumbed to the pressure of the Christian influence and they became Christians such as chief Machinjiri, Kumtumanjia, and others. One of the alleged objectives of the missionaries was to end the slave trade in Malawi that continued until the end of the 19th century. However, the hidden intention of Livingstone was to colonize Central Africa. This was achieved through the influence of the church and later on the defeat of powerful Yao and Ngoni chiefs in the 1890s.
Before the Established church of Scotland established a mission among the Yao of Kapeni 1876, another Scottish group of the Free Church of Scotland had secured land from the Machinga Yao chief Mponda in Mangochi. In 1875 chief Mponda gave land to Robert Laws. As a result, Laws opened a mission among the Islamised Yao in Mangochi. The mission station survived in the first years because the food was plentiful in the Mponda and Makanjila areas. The chiefs of the said areas practiced commercial farming. However, the missionaries for six years failed to convert the Machinga Yao. However, Mangochi Yao of the upper Shire such as those found in Zomba and Blantyre embraced Christianity.
In 1889 the Catholic White Fathers also aimed to convert the Yao of Mponda in Mangochi. Chief Mponda gave them land to open a mission station. The influence of the Catholics has been strong since 1889. The Church had been trying its best to Christianise the Yao by building schools and a clinic every four kilometers in Mangochi. At present, the Church has Radio Maria, a major seminary and the university in the district.
In 1883, a consul of the British Government was accredited to the “Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa” and in 1891, the British established the British Central Africa Protectorate. In 1907 the name was changed to Nyasaland or the Nyasaland Protectorate (Nyasa is the Chiyao word for “lake”). In the 1950s, Nyasaland was joined with Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953 to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Federation was dissolved on 31 December 1963.
In January 1915, John Chilembwe, a Millenarian pastor in south-eastern Nyasaland, led an unsuccessful revolt, known as the Chilembwe uprising, against British rule. Chilembwe opposed the recruitment of Nyasas in the British army’s campaign in East Africa, as well as the system of colonial rule. Chilembwe’s followers attacked local plantations but were soon defeated by British forces. Chilembwe was killed, and many of his followers were executed.
In 1944, the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), inspired by the African National Congress’ Peace Charter of 1914, emerged. NAC soon spread across Southern African with powerful branches emerging among migrant Malawian workers in Salisbury (now Harare) in Southern Rhodesia and Lusaka, in Northern Rhodesia. Thousands of Nyasalanders fought in the Second World War. In July 1958, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda returned to the country after a long absence in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ghana. He assumed leadership of the NAC, which later became the Malawi Congress Party (MCP),. In 1959, Banda was sent to Gwelo Prison for his political activities but was released in 1960 to participate in a constitutional conference in London.
On 15 April 1961, the MCP won an overwhelming victory in elections for a new Legislative Council. It also gained an important role in the new Executive Council and ruled Nyasaland in all but name a year later. In a second constitutional conference in London in November 1962, the British Government agreed to give Nyasaland self-governing status the following year. Hastings Banda became Prime Minister on 1 February 1963, although the British still controlled the country’s financial, security, and judicial systems. A new constitution took effect in May 1963, providing for virtually complete internal self-government.
The Federation was dissolved in 1963, and on 6 July 1964, Nyasaland became independent from British rule and renamed itself Malawi. Under a new constitution, Malawi became a republic with Banda as its first president. The new document also formally made Malawi a one-party state with the MCP as the only legal party. In 1971, Banda was declared president-for-life. For almost 30 years, Banda presided over a rigidly totalitarian regime, which ensured that Malawi did not suffer armed conflict. Opposition parties, including the Malawi Freedom Movement of Orton Chirwa and the Socialist League of Malawi, were founded in exile.
Malawi’s economy, while Banda was president, was often cited as an example of how a poor, landlocked, heavily populated, mineral-poor country could achieve progress in both agriculture and industrial development. While in office, and using his control of the country, Banda constructed a business empire that eventually produced one-third of the country’s GDP and employed 10% of the wage-earning workforce.
Under pressure for increased political freedom, Banda agreed to a referendum in 1993, where the populace voted for a multi-party democracy. In 1994 the first multi-party elections were held in Malawi, and Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi. Re-elected in 1999, Muluzi remained president until 2004, when Dr. Bingu was Mutharika was elected. Although the political environment was described as “challenging”, it was stated in 2009 that a multi-party system still existed in Malawi. Multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections were held for the fourth time in Malawi in May 2009, and President Mutharika was successfully re-elected, despite charges of election fraud from his rival.
President Mutharika was seen by some as increasingly autocratic and dismissive of human rights, and in July 2011 protests over high costs of living, devolving foreign relations, poor governance and a lack of foreign exchange reserves erupted. The protests left 18 people dead and at least 44 others suffering from gunshot wounds. In April 2012, Mutharika died of a heart attack; the presidential title was taken over by former Vice-President Joyce Banda. In 2014 Joyce Banda lost elections (coming third) and was replaced by Arthur Peter Mutharika, the brother of ex-President Mutharika