Country Profiles:
Malawi

Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa and is commonly known as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” due to the kindness of its people. Malawi, in Chichewa – the local language – means flames or fire. It is named after the incredible sunset and sunrises over the Lake Malawi. It is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi’s largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. Malawi is a country country endowed with spectacular highlands and extensive lakes and a number of fish species that can’t be found anywhere else.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Malawi includes:

1. Lake Malawi national park

Is located at the southern end of the lake, is an UNESCO World Heritage site and holds an aquarium-like array of tropical fish that are only found there.  The lake is home to more species of fish than any other lake, most of them endemic.  The wild population of fish however, is being threatened by over fishing and water pollution.  Malawi hosts a music festival, held on the lake’s shores, called the Lake of Stars Music Festival.  It is said to be one of the top 20 festivals in the world and one of Africa’s most respected music festivals, aimed to bring awareness to the vulnerability of the lake’s ecosystem.

2. Chongoni Rock-Art Area

contains the richest concentration of rock art on the continent, ranging from Stone Age paintings to contemporary work from farmers. The symbols depicted in the rock art are strongly centred around women, and retain a cultural significance for the Chewa

Malawi gained independence from the United Kingdom on July 6th 1964.

Soon after independence, a dispute arose between Hastings Banda, the prime minister, and most of his cabinet ministers. This lead to the dismissal of three ministers and the resignation and protest by  three others in September 1964.  “Henry Chipembere, one of these ministers, escaped from house arrest and defied attempts at recapture, becoming the focus for anti-government opinion until his death in 1975,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Banda became elected president in 1971 and was made president for life. However, in 1994 advocates for change won an overwhelming victory that lead to the first free elections in more than 30 years. Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi was limited to two terms as president, despite his efforts to amend the constitution to allow further terms. In 2004 his handpicked successor, Bingu wa Mutharika was declared the winner of an election tainted by irregularity and criticized as unfair. Althouh, Mutharika’s rule of govening the country rew increasingly autocratic and the country faced new economic challenges nder his second term. As a result, some of his officials expressed disagreement with him and Mutharika dismissed them from their high-ranking positions, including Vice Pres. Joyce Banda. Soon after, Mutharika suffered a heart attack and was officially declared deceased on April  7th 2012.

with strong domestic and international support Joyce Banda was sworn in as acting president. Banda moved quickly to counter the policies of Mutharika’s administration by restoring diplomatic relations with Great Britain and normalized relations with donors who greatly contributed to tackle the impact of HIV-Aids which claimed the lives of people. On the 2014 election, Joyce Banda was defeated by Arthur Peter Mutharika the brother of Bingu wa Mutharika (the irst president).

Malawi is largely an agricultural country because of its arable land making it its most significant natural resource. Malawi is a leading producer of Tobacco which accounts for most of the country’s exports. Sugar, tea, and cotton are also major exports. Some small-scale mining of coal takes place in the north, and quarrying of limestone for cement production is also an important activity. Precious and semiprecious stones are mined on a small scale; these include agate, aquamarine, amethyst, garnet, corundum, rubies, and sapphires. Malawi’s water resources are plentiful with Lake Malawi being the third biggest lake in Africa; world renowned for its crystal-clear waters but also because it displays the highest number of fish species of any lake in the world.

There are ten major ethnic groups in the country. The Chewa, Nyanja, Lomwe, Yao, Tumbuka, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, and the Lambya/Nyiha. Chewa and Lomwe  are the largest. All the languages spoken are from the Bantu group. 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. The official languages are Chichewa and  English.

Cuisine in Malawi, features Tea and fish with maize as a staple crop.  Popular dishes includes: Chambo (Fish Curry), Nsima ( Cornmeal Porridge), Kachumbari, a type of tomato and onion salad, Thobwa, a fermented drink made from white maize and millet or sorghum, Kondowole, made from cassava flour and water

Ndiwo (Fruit Chutney/Relish), Mbatata (Sweet Potato Cookies).

Malawian music is largely influenced by traditions of storytelling through songs and competition through dances, using native instruments like the ulimba xylophone and bangwe zither, showing Western influence with military march-style rhythms and formations. One of the most exciting festivals in the world happens every year for the past 10 years on Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi has played host to one of Africa’s most respected festivals, the Lake of Stars. The Lake of Stars festival has been hailed variously as “simply the finest festival in the world” and “the world’s most spectacular music festival” by major media outlets.

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