Facts About Malawi’s Culture, Geography, and History
Malawi has lots of interesting information, tidbits and stories that makes the South Eastern African country unique. It is rich in culture, history and human resources. We have twelve facts below about how this country that will intrigue you.
12. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi. This is old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area
Maravi means flames – this is reminiscent of the sight of many kilns that lights up the night at that time. The people of Maravi Empire were iron workers who existed in the sixteenth century. The empire was founded by the Amaravi people who are now known as the present day Nyaja people. Nyaja is an ethnic group of the Maravi people, who were the original Bantu speaking people. They inhabited the present day Malawi. The Maravi Empire broke down in the 18th century due to an internal war among the sub-chief and slave traders.
11. Tobacco and tea are the chief exports of Malawi
Malawi also has the highest production of burley leaf tobacco, a low grade, high nicotine tobacco. Tobacco accounts for the most profitable export in the country. It is also the largest source of income and Malawi is the world’s most tobacco dependent economy. It is known as the “green gold” in Malawi. The tobacco of Malawi is found in almost all cigarette blends including well-known names like Marlboro and Camel.
Malawi is also the second largest producer of tea after Kenya. They have white, green, black and special hand-made teas grown in the country.
10. Malawi is home to the third largest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi
It is also the eighth largest lake in the world, and the second deepest lake in Africa. Lake Malawi was discovered by David Livingstone around 150 years ago. It also has the nickname, the Calendar Lake because of the fact that it covers 365 miles north to south and 52 miles broad It is an inland sea that is fed by 14 perennial rivers.
9. Liwonde National Park is Malawi’s premier national park
The National Park has lodges on the Shire River, which provides a lovely backdrop to a huge variety of birds, hippos, elephants and many more species of wildlife. Liwonde National Park is a national treasure indeed. It is located at southern part of Malawi, right at the tip of Lake Malombe. The National Park was named after a chief called Liwonde, who fought for the recognition of the wildlife heritage of Malawi. Liwonde national park was inaugurated as a park in 1973. Most noteworthy, it offers a complete safari experience with boating, bird watching, tours and hospitable people.
8. Lake Malawi was once called “The Lake of Stars” by the famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone
He named it the Lake of stars because of the way dances across it during the day and how the stars reflects in it. He saw how the lantern lights from the fishermen’s boats resembled the stars at night.
There is a festival that is carried out on the shores of Lake Malawi which bears the same nickname as the Lake. Likewise, the festival is called the Lake of Stars festival. It is an annual three day international festival which started in 2004. The Lake of stars festival is a music festival that presently attracts over 3000 attendees from across Europe and Africa. The Lake of Malawi has been declared as the best location for festivals in the world by Time-out.
7. Malawi is the only country in the world that has a Carlsberg factory (with the exception, of course, of Denmark) – so Carlsberg beer is very cheap there
The factory was opened in 1968. The idea of opening the factory was initiated by the Danish foreign Minister. The Minister didn’t like the beer he was served when he visited Malawi in 1966. Some of its products are the Carlsberg Green, light and classic. Also the Carlsberg Stout and Kuche Kuche.
6. Malawi’s Lake Nyasa contains more fish species than any other lake on earth
It is also known as the famous Lake Malawi. It has the greatest number of fish species in any fresh water system on earth. The fishes are a source of livelihood for thousands and source of food for millions. It contains over a thousand species of fish, including the cichlid fish. It is believed that some biological factors may have forced the cichlid fish to diversify. Another popular fish species is the chambo.
5. Malawi is rightly known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”
The locals you meet are friendly, courteous and hospitable. Malawi is a relatively safe place and the people are not only kind to strangers but to one another. All visitors are welcomed with genuine warmth that cannot be feigned. The Malawi people will also go out of their way to help a visitor. This is because they count it a great honor that you paid their country a visit. The people have recently being listed as the happiest people in Africa by Forbes.
4. Chambo is the staple diet of many lakeside residents. This fish is the most important agricultural output of Lake Malawi
The Chambo is scientifically known as Oreochromis lidole. It is a specie of the popular Cichildae family. Chambo is the most favored fish in Malawi. It is a prized food fish that has been recently considered an endangered species as a result of over fishing and climate change. The international Union for the conservation estimated that there has been a 70% decline in the population of chambo over the past ten years
3. The traditional dress worn by women on Malawi is called Chitenje
It is a rectangular piece of fabric which comes in a variety of patterns, colors and designs. Chitenje is pronounced Chi-ten-jay. It is worn across East and Central Africa. The multi-color cotton fabric can be used as a head wrap, a body wrapper or as a baby sling. It is often tied across the chest or at the waist. Chitenje is worn special occasions but most commonly for daily living. It is similar to the Kikoy and kanga fabric, however it is thicker. It is called Kitenge in Tanzania.
2. The earliest human settlements in Malawi date back to 50,000 to 60,000 years ago
They were Bushmen people, whose rock paintings can still be seen outside the capital of Lilongwe. Research shows that human settlement developed along water sources. This is because animals and humans met at this water points, which made it easy for hunting and gathering. The African Rift valley includes Lake Malawi and others where evidence of Homo sapiens can be found. The human remains found around the Lake resembles the Bushmen who have lived in that area.
1. Malawi has a long tradition of oral artistry
There is a long tradition of oral artistry in Malawi. Before the spread of literacy in the twentieth century, texts were preserved in memory and performed or recited. Those traditional texts provided entertainment, instruction, and commemoration. However, no distinctions were made between works composed for enjoyment and works with a more general function. Those works were primarily, myths, legends, and folktales.
Another Must Read: 10 Most Beautiful Holy Places in Malawi