Malawi (Chichewa: Malaŵi) is a country in Africa, bordered by Mozambique to the south and east. Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west. Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa, runs along most of its eastern border. It’s often described as the “Warm Heart of Africa”, referring to the friendliness of the people.
Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi on 6 July 1964. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (born in March or April 1898 and died 25 November 1997) was the leader of Malawi and its predecessor state, Nyasaland, from 1961 to 1994. However, after three decades of one-party rule, the country held multi-party elections in 1994 under a provisional constitution, which took full effect the following year. Nevertheless, national multi-party elections were held again in 1999 and 2004 electing Bingu wa Mutharika as president. President Bingu died in office on 5 April 2012 and was succeeded by Mrs Joyce Banda. The next elections are due in 2014.
Much of Malawi is plateau, often reaching to 1,000m (3,000 ft), and the temperature in these highlands is moderate, with the hottest period occurring during the autumn rainy season and the coolest and chilliest in winter. The hottest region in the country is the lower Shire River Valley well south of Blantyre. Temperatures along scenic Lake Malawi are generally warm, but with a cooling breeze, especially in the evenings. Winters (May till July) are dry. The rainy season begins in mid-October to early November and generally runs until March.
Malawi’s people are its greatest asset – friendly, welcoming, colourful and vibrant. It’s impossible to visit and not become engaged with the people, but there are now opportunities to spend time in real villages (including staying overnight) for a first-hand experience of the cultures, traditions and daily life. This is an option pretty much everywhere in Malawi, and one well worth taking. There’s also much to see of Malawi’s history, beginning with the pre-history remains of the Karonga district and the Stone Age rock paintings near Dedza. The Cultural & Museum Centre at Karonga is well worth a visit. Elsewhere, the colonial period is preserved in buildings dating from the David Livingstone era and the defeat of the Arab slave trade is well documented in the museums of Blantyre. Among other museums around the country are a Lake Museum at Mangochi, a mission museum at Livingstonia and a postal services museum near Zomba.