When David Livingstone arrived in this part of Africa in the 1850s he asked the name of the great stretch of inland water. He was told it was called 'nyasa', which means 'lake'..

So the lake became known as Lake Nyasa (Lake Lake) and the country as Nyasaland. When the country became independent in 1964 the new Republic chose the name of Malawi.

Lake Malawi covers nearly 24,000 square kilometres, about one-fifth of the total territory of the Republic of Malawi. The lake lies 473 metres above sea level in the deep valley which stretches the length of the country.

Wide grassy plains overlook the valley on both sides and the scenery round the lake is spectacular. The water is fresh and there are no tides or currents. The lake contains over 220 varieties of fish, the majority of which are not found anywhere else in the world. There are also crocodiles, but these generally keep away from inhabited areas.

Lake Malawi has a constantly changing character depending on the time of the day, the weather and the season. One moment the water may be as smooth as silk and then suddenly waves seven metres high can beat against the shores. It is generally calmest from March to May, and the temperature never drops below 21 °C. The area has a particularly low annual rainfall.


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