Learn More about Malawi

About Malawi

About Malawi is a comprehensive summary to give the reader quick tips about this Southern African country.


The Republic of Malawi as the country is officially known, was formerly known as Nyasaland until its independence from Britain on the 6th of July, 1964.

The country has an area measuring 118,484 square kilometers or 45,747 square miles making it the 98th largest country in the world. The area covered by water is 20.6% of which most of the land covered by water is under Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is one of Africa’s Great Lakes. The lakes take almost a third of Malawi’s total area. The country name derived from a Chewa word Maravi meaning flame.

The country derives its name from Maravi. Maravi was a 16th-century kingdom. The kingdom territory included parts of today’s, Mozambique, and Zambia as part of its territory. 

The people of Malawi are friendly hence their country is “The Warm Heart of Africa”

Geography of Malawi

Malawi is one of the 44 landlocked countries in the world; it’s one of the 16 in Africa and one of the six in Southern Africa, which means it does not have a coastline. Its nearest port is Beira in Mozambique-some 1,046 kilometers away from its capital city; Lilongwe. Additionally, Beira is 659 away from Malawi’s commercial city; Blantyre.

List of world landlocked countries

List of Africa Landlocked countries


Malawi has three neighbors. It’s sandwiched between Tanzania to its north and northeast sharing the disputed boundary on Lake Malawi. The former Portuguese colony; Mozambique lies on its eastern side and finally Zambia, a landlocked county is on its western part.

Location and shape

Malawi lies between latitudes 10 degrees and 17 degrees south of Equator with small parts of its territories spilling slightly north of the 10 degrees parallel while to the south a small portion goes past the 17 latitude mark. It lies east of 35 degrees east of the Prime Meridian.

Physical Features

Lake Malawi

The country main physical feature is Lake Malawi and the Great Rift Valley. Lake Malawi is Africa’s 4 largest lake. Additionally, the lake is the 3rd largest freshwater water body after Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. Furthermore, it is Africa’s second deepest lake after Lake Tanganyika.

Lake Malawi is also known as “The Calendar Lake” because its width at its widest part is 52 kilometers and its length is 365 kilometers. Lake Malawi accounts for 20% of the country’s surface area.  This massive water body sits at an average altitude of 460 meters or 1500 feet above sea level. However, the lake is 700 meters or 2300 feet above sea level in the north. Additionally, the lake’s northern portion happens to be the lake’s deepest part.

Nyasa as Lake Malawi is also known as Rift Valley’s south most lake.  South of the lake is the Shire valley; a low land. Besides, there are plateaus on the west of the lake. Lake Malawi is a major transport corridor with some of its major ports Chipoka, Monkey Bay, and Nkholokoba Bay offering great service. Furthermore, the Shire River from the southern part of the lake is also navigable. Lake Malawi is in the River Zambezi Basin

The Nyika PLATEAU and the rift valley

The country’s western part has a narrow plain, thereafter the relief steeply rises to form a plateau that is between 900 meters or 3000 feet and 1200 meters or 3900 feet above sea level. Northwest of the country lies the Nyika plateau rising to 2600 meters or 8500 feet. The Nyika Plateau is on Malawi’s north. The southern part of the country is characterized by the Shire highlands rolls gently until they are stopped by the Zambezi valley and its floodplains. Lake Chilwa is near Mozambique border and it Malawi’s second largest lake, however it has no outlet.

The Great Rift Valley takes a north south orientation, stretching from Tanzania border to the north and leaving Malawi southwards at the Mozambique border. Malawi’s lay between longitude 33 and 36 degrees east of the Prime Meridian. The Rift Valley is on Malawi’s east, central and southern part.

The country is an elongated state. Therefore, its long from north to south and very narrow from east to west. The country is about 860 kilometers or 534 miles at its longest and 200 kilometers at its widest, and 90 kilometers at its narrowest point.

Malawi highlands experience cooler temperatures

Major urban centers in Malawi are:

  1. Lilongwe
  2. Blantyre
  3. Zomba
  4. Kasungu
  5. Mzuzu