Lilongwe Commonwealth Walkway

Malawi / Africa

Malawi was formerly Nyasaland.  It is a landlocked country in southeast Africa bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the east, south and southwest.  It has an estimated population of 19,431,566 (as of January 2021). The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name for the Chewa people who inhabit the area.  It was settled around the 10th century by migrating Bantu groups.  Centuries later, in 1889 the Shire Highlands were colonised by the British and in 1891 the protectorate was included and became known as Nyasaland.  In 1953 it became a protectorate within the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (which was dissolved in 1963).  In 1964 the protectorate was ended.  Nyasaland was granted independence, The Duke of Edinburgh represented The Queen, and it was renamed Malawi.  Two years later it became a Republic.  By 1970 it had become a totalitarian one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Kamuzu Banda (1898-1997) who remained in this role until 1994.  He consolidated Malawi as a one-party state but was condemned for presiding over one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. Today Malawi has a democratic multi-party republic headed by an elected president.  Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based on agriculture, and it has a largely rural and rapidly growing population.  The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet its development needs.  However, this has dramatically decreased since the year 2000.  Fun facts:  ‘Malawi’ mean ‘fire flames’ – which is taken from the reflection of the rising sun on the waters of the vast Lake Malawi.  Lake Malawi also contains the largest number of species of fish in any lake in the world, with 500 to 1000 different species.  Lilongwe:  Lilongwe is the capital and was named after the Lilongwe River.  It is one of the most populated city in Africa.  The city is in the central region of Malawi and is an important economic and transportation hub for the country.  Currently, it is governed by the Malawi Congress Party, which dominates the City Council.  Lilongwe was first set up as a boma by the local leader Njewa in 1902.  In 1904 it became an administrative centre.  In the 1920s its location at the junction of several major roadways increased its importance as an agricultural market centre for the fertile Central Region Plateau.  Having been a trading post, it was officially recognised as a town in 1974, and after independence, it became an important trading centre.  In 1965 Malawi's first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda selected it as an economic growth point for northern and central Malawi.  Development projects of the 1970s and 1980s included the construction of Lilongwe International Airport, which provides rail access to the fertile tobacco lands in the Central Region Plateau, one of the country’s largest agricultural export programmes.  The city's population is rapidly increasing, with an annual growth rate of 4.3%.

7.5 miles / 12 kilometres

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