16 Fun Facts About Malawi That Make This Country Worth It

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Even though most of Malawi’s life revolves around Lake Malawi, and rightfully so, the country has other fascinating attributes that will make you want to visit to see for yourself.

From the lake of a thousand species of fish to one of the youngest capital cities in the world, here are some interesting Malawi facts that are rather surprising and unexpected.

1. The Landlocked Country Teeming With Water

Although Malawi is a landlocked country, it has plenty of water because the waters of Lake Malawi cover a fifth of the country’s area.

The country doesn’t have a coastline, as it is bordered by the land masses of Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique.

2. Malawi Was Once Known As Nyasaland

Malawi was under British colonial rule and became a British protectorate in 1889. The name Nyasaland came into use in 1907, long before the country gained independence in 1964 and became the Republic of Malawi.

3. You Could Dance Your Way To Malawi

If you don’t have two left feet like me when it comes to dancing, you could probably dance your way to Malawi—but don’t take me literally!

Dance and music are at the heart of Malawi’s culture, and the traditional forms of these are an integral part of significant ceremonies like marriage.

Traditional man dancing in middle of crowd in Malawi

So important is dance to Malawi that the government formed The National Dance Troupe in 1987!

4. From Trading Post To Capital City

The capital city of Malawi is Lilongwe, which started as a simple trading post in 1906 before growing to become the country’s capital city in 1975. It’s one of the world’s youngest capital cities.

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5. Most Modern Malawians Are Of Bantu Origin

Most of the ethnic groups of Malawi are of Bantu origin as descendants of people who migrated from South Africa. They include groups like Chewa, Sena, Lomwe, Ngoni, and Yao.

Although all the African languages spoken in Malawi are Bantu, English remains the official language, while Chewa or Chichewa is the national language.

6. You Can Go Snorkeling In Malawi

If you love snorkeling, you can have lots of fun at Lake Malawi National Park, the first freshwater park in the world. Other key activities at the park include boat riding and canoeing.

Rock island in Lake Malawi National Park

Suppose you would rather have other fun activities instead. In that case, you can visit the Majete Wildlife Reserve to see the Big Five, Nyika National Park for horseback safaris, Liwonde National Park, and Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve.

You can also go on a guided walking safari at the Nkhotakota Game Reserve, the largest in Malawi.

7. Malawi’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malawi—the Lake Malawi National Park, integrated in 1984, and the Chongoni Rock Art Area, incorporated in 2006.

The Chongoni Rock Art Area hosts 127 sites and houses the richest display of rock art in Central Africa, depicting the rock art traditions of hunter-gatherer and agricultural communities until today since the Late Stone Age.

8. Lake Malawi’s Artificial Stars

When Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone came upon Lake Malawi in the mid-19th century, he called it the “The Lake of Stars”.

David’s nickname for the lake was inspired by the spectacular sight of the reflection of the lanterns on fishermen’s boats upon the lake’s surface. The reflections looked like stars on a starry night.

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Lake Malawi at dusk looking on from deck

The beautiful lake is the third largest and second deepest in the African continent. It’s also the world’s ninth-largest lake by area and the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake by volume, holding 7% of the surface freshwater available worldwide.

9. Of Fire Flames And Origins

The name “Malawi” draws from the sun’s spectacular reflection upon the waters of Lake Malawi. The name means “fire flames” and comes from the 16th century Maravi Kingdom that spread within the borders of the now Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique.

The amazing lake covers Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is known as Lago Niassa in Mozambique and Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

10. The Largest Number Of Fish Species Worldwide

I promise this is the last thing I’ll tell you about Lake Malawi today!

Estimated between 500 and 1,000, the lake is home to the largest number of species of fish of any lake in the world, including over 700 kinds of endemic cichlids, whose bright colors endear them to aquarium fish enthusiasts.

11. The Warm Heart of Africa

Malawi is fondly called “The Warm Heart of Africa”.

Malawi people

This isn’t because of a warm climate, but because of the hospitable and kind nature of Malawians!

12. Selling A Presidential Jet To Save A Country’s Economy

If you were the president of one of the poorest countries in the world, would you sell your luxurious presidential jet to help your struggling economy?

In 2013, President Joyce Banda of Malawi sold a luxurious presidential jet for a whopping $15 million to help the country’s struggling economy! She also slashed her salary by a record 30% for the same cause.

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13. One Of Africa’s Safest Countries?

The World Economic Forum voted the Republic of Malawi as one of the safest African countries, beating renowned tourist destinations like Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia.

Malawi is even voted safer than the US and England!

14. Very Few Malawians Live In Urban Areas

About 85% of Malawians live in rural areas, where they engage in agriculture.

As the Malawian economy’s backbone, agriculture accounts for about 90% of the country’s export revenue.

Tobacco accounts for over 50% of Malawi’s total exports. The rest include wooden products, coffee, tea, sugar, peanuts, and cotton.

15. Malawi Became The First African Country to Grow Tea Commercially

Malawi boasts of being the first African country to grow tea commercially. This followed the introduction of tea at the Church of Scotland Mission in Blantyre, Malawi, in 1886 through seeds obtained from the Botanical Garden in Edinburgh.

Malawi tea plantation with mountain range in background

Today, Malawi comes second after Kenya as Africa’s second-largest tea producer. One of the original tea bushes still thrives at the Mission in Blantyre to this day!

16. The Only Country With A Carlsberg Factory Outside Denmark

You could enjoy your favorite Carlsberg beer when you visit Malawi. In 1968, the country became the only one in the world to have a Carlsberg beer factory besides Denmark.

The Carlsberg beer factory in Malawi produces Carlsberg Green, Kuche Kuche, and Carlsberg Stout. Carlsberg Breweries has since sold over half of its shares in the Malawian factory to the Castel Group.


Since discovering how much fun and learning are to be had traveling, Alex has made it a point to tour his home country and continent while still in his heydays. His ultimate desire is to travel farther afield to see the wonders of Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. When he isn’t traveling, he takes his time to write about various places to share his experiences with other global citizens.

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