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".
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,
became part of the semi-independent central African Federation (CAF). The Federation was dissolved in 1963
and in 1964, Nyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi. Malawi has a democratic, multiparty
government and a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing.
Malawi’s economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. It has a low life
expectancy and high infant mortality. 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 reemerged. Malawian cultural practices and Malawian cuisine are rich in local,
southern African, and overseas influences.
Dances are a strong part of Malawi's culture and 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.
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