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The Warm Heart of Africa is often overlooked hidden as it is between its larger neighbours. Malawi deserves the moniker, as this small country manages to hold on despite the hurdles before it. Like its neighbours, it has beautiful vistas and offers a unique African welcome that you will only find in Malawi.
Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It's 13 million or so inhabitants all share a strip of land that is dominated by high plateaus and a massive body of water: Lake Malawi. Most of the inhabitants are of Bantu descent though there are a number of both Europeans and Asians. Of these people, 90% have live in rural areas engaged in the agricultural industry or surviving on subsistence farming.
The official language of Malawi is English and is spoken throughout the country. Chichewa is currently being promoted by government as a second official language despite the fact that the major secondary language in the northern parts of the country is Chitumbuka. Visitors do not have to worry, however, as English is spoken throughout and most people are fluent and will be able to assist.
Malawi is a country shaped by the Great Rift Valley that extend from the north all the way towards Mozambique in the south. The valley forms a basin into which several rivers drain their waters to form the incredible Lake Malawi. Around the edges of the lake, high plateaus rise up, pushed towards the heavens by the titanic forces of moving continents. To the east and west the plateaus rise up to 1 200 metres above sea level. In the Nyika Uplands to the north, the plateaus rise up to 2 600 metres and in the South Shire Highlands they rise up to 1 600 metres. The further south one travels, the elevation drops considerably as the Shire River drains the lake into the Zambezi river.
The climate is equatorial and tropical with hot to warm conditions throughout the year. Malawi has two seasons of note: a wet season that lasts from November to April and a dry season that lasts from May to October. Summers tend to be hot with frequent rainstorms while winters are warm and dry with cool evenings.
Despite being a poor country that requires outside help for many of their developmental plans, Malawi still manages to five nature reserves. They understand the importance of conserving their natural heritage and these sites are also favourite locations for large numbers of visitors who come to Malawi every year.
While Malawi is not a Big Five destination, a diverse and unique collection of wildlife do make their homes here. Lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards can be seen, but they are rare as their numbers have dwindled due to pressures on their environment. Rhinoceroses are practically unknown in the wild, but there are some sanctuaries that are trying to help recover their numbers in the wild.
Malawi has much to offer visitors to its warm embrace. Pristine beaches, lush forests and a friendly people will ensure that your stay is a pleasant one.