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Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west.
The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of 16,777,547 (July 2013 est.). Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu.
The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa".
Malawi is among the smallest countries in Africa. Lake Malawi takes about a third of Malawi's area.
The area of Africa now known as Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century.
Centuries later in 1891 the area was colonized by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, a protectorate of the United Kingdom, became a protectorate within the semi-independentFederation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
The Federation was dissolved in 1963. In 1964 the protectorate over Nyasaland was ended and Nyasaland became an independent country under Queen Elizabeth II with the new name Malawi.
Two years later it became a republic. Upon gaining independence it became a one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he lost an election. Peter Mutharika is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries.
The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000.
The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent. Malawi has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.
Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality.
There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labour force and government expenditures. There is a diverse population of native peoples, Asians and Europeans, with several languages spoken and an array of religious beliefs.
Although there was periodic regional conflict fueled in part by ethnic divisions in the past, by 2008 it had diminished considerably and the concept of a Malawian nationality had re-emerged.
The name "Malawi" comes from the Maravi, a Bantu people who emigrated from the southern Congo around 1400 AD.
Upon reaching northern Lake Malawi, the group divided, with one group moving south down the west bank of the lake to become the group known as the Chewa, while the other group, the ancestors of today's Nyanja, moved along the east side of the lake to the southern section of Malawi. Ethnic conflict and continuing migration prevented the formation of a society that was uniquely and cohesively Malawian until the dawn of the 20th century.
Over the past century, ethnic distinctions have diminished to the point where there is no significant inter-ethnic friction, although regional divisions still occur.
The concept of a Malawian nationality has begun to form around a predominantly rural people who are generally conservative and traditionally nonviolent.
From 1964–2010, and again since 2012, the Flag of Malawi is made up of three equal horizontal stripes of black, red and green with a red rising sun superimposed in the center of the black stripe. The black stripe represented the African people, the red represented the blood of martyrs for African freedom, green represented Malawi's ever-green nature and the rising sun represented the dawn of freedom and hope for Africa.
In 2010, the flag was changed, removing the red rising sun and adding a full white sun in the center as a symbol of Malawi's economic progress. The change was reverted in 2012.
Its dances are a strong part of Malawi's culture, and the National Dance Troupe (formerly the Kwacha Cultural Troupe) was formed in November 1987 by the government.
Traditional music and dances can be seen at initiation rites, rituals, marriage ceremonies and celebrations. Soccer is the most common sport in Malawi, introduced there during British colonial rule. Basketball is also growing in popularity.
The indigenous ethnic groups of Malawi have a rich tradition of basketry and mask carving, and some of these goods are used in traditional ceremonies still performed by native peoples.
Wood carving and oil painting are also popular in more urban centres, with many of the items produced being sold to tourists.
There are several internationally recognised literary figures from Malawi, including poet Jack Mapanje, history and fiction writer Paul Zeleza and authors Legson Kayira, Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula and David Rubadiri.
Malawian cuisine is diverse, with tea and fish being popular features of the country's cuisine.
Sugar, coffee, corn, potatoes, sorghum, cattle and goats are also important components of the cuisine and economy.
Lake Malawi is a source of fish including chambo (similar to bream) usipa (similar to sardine), mpasa(similar to salmon and kampango).
Nsima is a food staple made from ground corn and served with side dishes of meat and vegetable. It can be eaten for lunch and dinner.
When it comes to scenic golf courses…small is beautiful
Malawi may not feature on the list of top international golfing destinations; yet there are some remarkable courses in both Lilongwe and Blantyre that would impress any avid golfer.
Visitors will find a dozen nine-hole golf courses spread across Malawi, along with just one 18-hole golf course; but this should not detract golfers from travelling to Malawi with the aim of enjoying a satisfying round. Mbawa Country Club is located in a 500 acre game park surrounded by one of the last remaining indigenous areas of forest and grassland in Malawi. This nine-hole course was designed and constructed by renowned golf architect Peter Matkovich, who has created a series of acclaimed courses worldwide.
Golfers are in for a treat when they play at Mbawa as their round is likely to be accompanied by exceptional viewing of wild animals such as giraffe and zebras plus the ‘big six’ antelope (kudu, eland, roan, sable, nyala and waterbuck) as well as a proliferation of birdlife.
Game Haven Lodge provides first-rate accommodation and guests can enjoy beautiful views of Mbawa Country Club. The lodge has five luxurious en-suite cottages, each with a fireplace and a veranda. There is also a choice of 20 spacious executive suites, all equipped with modern amenities to ensure a thoroughly comfortable stay. The decor in each room is a perfect complement to the surroundings, while the standard of service and cuisine at the Ambrosia Restaurant is a reflection of the property’s class and style.
Right in the heart of the capital is Lilongwe Golf Club, a semi-private 18-hole course, the only one in Malawi. Built in 1930, the course has beautiful fairways and, thanks to the recently upgraded irrigation system, it is now playable year-round. Lilongwe Golf Club is home to the Malawi Open and continues to attract professional golfers from across the world.
Malawi has eight other golf courses. They include Blantyre Sports Club (founded in 1896), Limbe Country Club, Mulanje Golf Course, Thyolo Golf Club and Nchalo Golf Club. There is also a nine-hole, par-3 course at Mlambe belonging to the Makokola Retreat on Lake Malawi.