20 Interesting And Fun Facts About Malawi [Explained]

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Malawi is a landlocked country that sits in the southeastern region of Africa. However, make no mistake, it has several water bodies inland, particularly the beautiful Lake Malawi. That said, there are many interesting facts about Malawi that makes it a great travel destination.

Common Facts About Malawi

The Republic of Malawi has an approximate population of 20 million people. The country is famed as the “Warm Heart of Africa” for good reason.

Malawi is known for its happy people, beautiful landscapes, and rich culture. Several facts about Malawi may interest you, particularly if you are planning a trip to this underrated African gem.

Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.

Historical Facts On Malawi

Malawi Is Over 1000 Years

Present-day Malawi was initially inhibited by the migrating Bantu group in the 10th century.

After a couple of centuries in 1891, the British colonized the region. Therefore, it became a British protectorate with the name Nyasaland.

Then years later in 1953, it became a semi-independent protectorate in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. However, the Federation was dissolved after just a decade.

The following year in 1964, the protectorate ended, and Nyasaland became an independent nation under Queen Elizabeth II. It was renamed Malawi and became a republic two years later. 

Politics In Malawi

After gaining total independence in 1964, Malawi was ruled by a one-party regime for 30 years. The one-party regime under President Hastings Banda was relinquished after 3 decades.

Democratic processes in Malawi have significantly gotten better since Hastings’ fall from power in the mid-90s.

Who Discovered Lake Malawi

There are two main stories of the discovery of this lake, and we leave it to you to decide which one sounds more plausible as it is a constant debate.

Some have suggested that the first European to discover the Lake was Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone. He was said to have discovered the lake in 1859.

Before that time though, it is claimed that the Portuguese were already there. Some even claimed the Portuguese have been there since 1492.

Easing Economic Struggles


The Malawian President of 2013, Joyce Banda sold the country’s luxurious presidential jet for $15 million. She did that to raise funds for the country’s struggling economy.

Beyond selling the presidential jet, she slashed her salary by 30%. She pledged to sell off her cabinets’ 35 fleets of Mercedes Benz and introduced different austerity measures to help boost the country’s economy.

Geographical Facts About Malawi

Landlocked Malawi With Plenty of Water

How often do you see a landlocked country with plenty of water? Here’s an interesting fact about Malawi. A fifth of the country is covered by water, but none of it actually comes from the coastline.

Malawi is bordered by many countries all around. Notably, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia border Malawi on the north, east, and west respectively.

In fact, how far the exact border of Malawi runs is still up for debate. One thing is sure though, Malawi is landlocked.

Mulanje Massif

Popularly known as Mount Mulanje, this is a huge granite massif in the Sothern part of Malawi.

The Mulanje Massif host the highest point in Malawi. Sapitwa stands at about 3002 meters above sea level. It is the highest peak of the Mulanje and the highest point in Malawi.

Cultural Facts About Malawi

Dance In Malawi

Many African countries love traditional dances and Malawi is no different. Dance is a special part of Malawi’s culture.

Here’s a cool fact about Malawi’s national dance. It is called Troupe and it was surprisingly formed by the country’s government in 1987.

In Malawi, traditional dance and music are a big part of the initiation rite. They are staples in rituals, marriages, and every kind of ceremony.

The Warm Heart Of Africa


Malawians are one of the most friendly and hospitable people you will ever meet. And it ranks as one of the safest countries in Africa. Malawians are kind to both strangers and locals. They welcome visitors with unrivalled warmth.

They are not just kind with words, but their actions also reflect the same hospitality. Malawians go out of their way to welcome visitors, helping them ease their integration into the community. Visitors to their country mean a lot to them.

Malawi is known for having some of the happiest people in Africa. Malawi ranks well on the list of the top happiest people in Africa.

Tea And Tobacco


Malawi is well known for its rich tea and quality tobacco. Here’s an important fact about agriculture in Malawi, it is a lucrative sector and plays an important part in the country’s economy.

Although there are other crops like corn in Malawi, the poster boy is tobacco. The African nation has the world’s most tobacco-dependent economy.

Interestingly, Tobacco has the nickname “Green Gold” in Malawi. While the name may be amazing, it is not a total exaggeration; Malawi’s tobacco features in some of the top cigarette blends in the world.

On the other hand, Malawi is also famous for its tea production. Only Kenya produces more tea than Malawi. There is a wide variety of tea in Malawi including white, black, green, and special hand-made teas unique to the country.

Nsima The National Dish


Like many other national dishes from African countries, maize features prominently in Malawi’s national dish – Nsima.

Nsima is a thick corn-based porridge that can be shaped or mounded. It is made by mixing corn flour in hot water and continuing to paste until it thickens enough to be mounded. The versatile dish can be served with a variety of sauces or soup accompanied by meat, or fish.

Languages In Malawi

The official language in Malawi is English. It’s no surprise considering their colonials were British. But English is not the only language spoken in Malawi.

Other Malawian languages are spoken in Malawi also. Some of the popular languages in Malawi include Yao, Elomwe, Chewa, and Tonga.

Fun Malawi Facts For Kids


This is the capital city and the largest city in Malawi. Lilongwe is also the most populated city in the country. It has a land area of about 727.8 square km and an elevation of 1,050 meters.

No Olympic Medal


Here’s one Malawi fact I bet you don’t know, but might not come as a big surprise. Malawi is not known to be a very sports-centered country, and it is one of the 70+ countries without any Olympic winner’s medals. 

Malawi Flag


Like every other country’s flag, the Malawi flag holds a significant meaning to Malawians.

This tricolor flag with red, black, and green, represents the African people, the blood of independence martyrs, and the green nature of the country. The top stripe features the sun setting in red color.

Poor Country


Here is an unfortunate fact about Malawi. The country ranks high as one of the poorest countries in the world. It sits around 174 of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. Did you know that over 50% of the population in Malawi lives in poverty?

Useful Facts About Malawi For Travelers

Lake Malawi


Malawi has one of the largest lakes in Africa, the lake is also considered one of the deepest in the world. Lake Malawi runs through three countries Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Because of its enormous size, the lake became a big part of Malawi. About 9,424 square miles of the lake lie within the borders of Malawi.

How about this for a fun fact about Malawi and Lake Malawi? It is nicknamed the Calendar Lake.

It is 356 miles long and 52 miles wide. The cheekiest part is, 12 major rivers are flowing into this lake. No name can beat that.

Malawi And The Little Five

Well, you will be forgiven for thinking of the big five and ignoring the little five after all everyone loves everything bigger.

In Malawi, you cannot only spot The Big Five, but you also get to see The Little Five. These little creatures are very adorable. The Little Five includes Leopard Tortoise, Buffalo Weaver, Rhino Beetle, Ant Lion, and Elephant Shrew.

Carlsberg Beer


One surprising Malawi fact is that the country is one of the first, other than Denmark, to have a Carlsberg beer brewing factory.

It was launched in 1986, but it has a beautiful story attached. When the Danish foreign minister visited the country, he was served a beer he didn’t like.

Because of that, he proposed the opening of the Carlsberg beer factory in Malawi. Today you can get a cool Carlsberg beer in Malawi for very cheap. Rejoice, all you beer drinkers!

Other Interesting Facts About Malawi

Malawi’s Scottish Bond

It is safe to say that Malawi and Scotland share a healthy bromance. Missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone holds a special place in the hearts of the Malawi people. And for good measures, he helped in the country’s fight against slavery.

Here’s a cool fact about Malawi. Livingstonia a town in the Northern part of the country was named after David Livingstone. More interestingly, another town Blantyre in the south of Mali is named after Livingstone’s birthplace in Scotland.

A Large Number Of Fish Species


Did you know? Lake Nyasa popularly known as Lake Malawi has the highest number of fish species of any freshwater body on earth. The biodiversity in nature is one of the proud facts about Malawi.

The lake has over a thousand species of fish. Some of the popular species include the cichlid and the chambo species. These fishes in Nyasa Lake serve as a source of food and livelihood for thousands and millions of Malawians. Chambo makes for a delicious dish in traditional Malawian foods.

It was called Nyasa Lake because Malawi was formerly known as Nyasaland.

Elephant Translocation


Malawi made history by hosting the largest elephant translocation in history. In 2017 over 500 elephants were successfully relocated from Majeta and Liwonde (two National Parks in Malawi) to Nkhotakota.

Elephants and other wildlife in the Nkhotakota National Park had experienced a significant decline due to constant poaching. The aim of the translocation was to repopulate the Nkhotakota National Park.

Discovering More Fun Facts About Malawi

With so much culture and natural beauty packed into such a small country, Malawians have every reason to be proud of their homeland. These are just some of the interesting stories and facts about Malawi, and there are definitely plenty more to explore.

If you ever get a chance to explore the stunning landscapes, rich culture and incredible wildlife experiences that this fascinating country has to offer, you are sure to uncover more Malawi facts that will surprise you.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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