Malawi – 10 Facts you didn’t know

by ACT

  • Posted on August 5, 2016

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When you think of Malawi, what springs to mind?

Throughout this month of August, we will be blogging about Malawi to give you an insight into this wonderful country and its warm hearted people. We will also be letting you into the fantastic projects that ACT is engaged with in Malawi.

So to start off our ‘Malawi month’, here are ten facts that perhaps you didn’t know:

  1. 1. Malawi

‘Malawi’ means ‘fire flames’. The country takes its name from the reflection of the rising sun on the waters of the vast Lake Malawi.

The name originates from the Maravi Kingdom, which straddled the current borders of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia in the 16th Century. The country is also affectionately known as “The Warm Heart of Africa” due to the kind and hospitable nature of its inhabitants.

  1. 2. UNESCO protected

Malawi has two UNESCO World Heritage sites – Lake Malawi National Park, which was first listed in 1984, and the Chongoni Rock Art Area, which was listed in 2006. The Chongoni Rock Art Area consists of 127 sites that feature the richest collection of rock art in Central Africa. They are an amazing glimpse into the traditions of rock art of the hunter gatherers and of agriculturalists from the Late Stone Age up to the present day.

  1. 3. Importance of dance

Dance is an important part of Malawi’s culture. The National Dance Troupe was formed in 1987 by the government. Traditional dances and music can be seen as an initiation rite, and are used during rituals and marriage celebrations and ceremonies.

  1. 4. Rural communities

Around 85% of the Malawian population live in rural areas. The economy is fuelled by agriculture, and 90% of export revenues come from produce grown across the country. Tobacco is one of the country’s most lucrative produce, accounting for more than 50% of total exports. Other items include tea, cotton, sugar, coffee, peanuts and wooden products.

  1. 5. Fourth poorest in Africa

Malawi is the fourth poorest country in Africa and over 40% of the population live on less than $1 a day. It has one of the highest rates of Aids orphans in Africa.

  1. 6. Malawi was the first country in Africa to grow tea on a commercial scale. 

Malawi has been producing tea for well over a century and it is the continent’s second largest tea producer after Kenya. The history of tea in Malawi stretches back to 1886 when seeds were taken from the Botanical Garden in Edinburgh to the Church of Scotland Mission in Blantyre and planted in the garden there. One bush, the ancestor of the original tea plantation in Mulanje, still grows at the Mission in Blantyre today.

  1. 7. Lake Malawi contains the largest number of fish species of any lake in the world. 

There are between 500 and 1,000 fish species, and it is home to a vast array of Cichlids, virtually all of which are endemic to the lake. These Cichlids are globally popular as aquarium fish, because of their bright colours.

  1. 8. The lake of the stars

The serene Lake Malawi was crowned “The Lake of Stars” by Scottish explorer David Livingstone, who visited the country in late 1800s. The name came from the lantern lights, which reflected off fishermen’s boats and sparkled on the lake’s surface as if they were the stars at night.

  1. 9. High Girl dropout rate from education

In Malawi less than 10% of girls earn a high school diploma. Approximately 20% of school aged girls are prevented from continuing their due to lack of menstrual health education and access to menstrual pads.

  1. 10. Highest rate of child Marriage

Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married and/or raising children by the age of 18.

ACT has been educating disadvantaged children and orphans in Malawi since 2007 and been working with local partners to increase girl child education in rural communities.

Read more about ACT work in Malawi.

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