The land-locked country of Malawi is located in south-central Africa right along the western portion of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Malawi covers an area of in total nearly 120,000 square kilometers, and it stretches between some 90 and 160 kilometers from east to west and around 900 km from north to south.
In the north and the northeast, Malawi borders Tanzania, in the west Zambia, and in the east, south, and southwest, the country borders Mozambique.
Malawi can be divided into 3 main regions. The Northern Region is sparsely populated and mountainous, the well-populated Central Region that is containing very fertile plains, and the Southern Region, which offers a rolling landscape and is densely populated.
Lake Malawi, located in the country’s northwestern region, is actually the 3rd largest African lake.
It is between 15 and 80 kilometers wide, and spans a length of almost 600 kilometers. On the northern shores of the lake, the Rift Valley Escarpment is rising up steeply, reaching an altitude of nearly 2,5 kilometers (around 8,200 feet) above sea level. This area contains the densely forested Viphya Plateau, and the Nyika Plateau.
Malawi offers a nice subtropical climate, and the rainy season is from November to the beginning of March. The country’s lower lying areas in the south have an almost tropical climate and can get pretty hot in the rainy season when temperatures may rise to a very hot 38° C (around 100 F).
The northern plateaus and highlands are more moderate with temperatures that average between 20 and 27 Centigrade (60 – 80 F) and this region offers cool nights year round.
In this part of Malawi, temperatures may drop to a staggering 4 Centigrade in winter though. Malawi’s average annual rainfall is varying between some 600 and 3,000 millimeters (23 – 120 inches).
Estimates are that Malawi has a population of around 14,5 million residents and the most important ethnic population fractions are the Tumbuka, Chewa, Yao, and Ngoni.
Chechewe is Malawi’s national language that is spoken widely in the entire country, whereas Chitumbuka is the northern region’s dominant language. Malawi’s official language, though, is English which is also Malawi’s business language.
Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe city, and some other key population centers include Zomba and Blantyre. In 1964, the country obtained independence from Britain, and the new republic became part of the British Commonwealth. Malawi became actually a multi-party democracy in 1994, and the country’s president is the official Head of State.