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Country Malawi – Migrating from Hunter Gatherers to Stable Democratic Republic

A landlocked country in southeast Africa, country Malawi is also known as the Republic of Malawi. Flanked by Tanzania on the northeast, Zambia on the northwest, Mozambique on all three sides at east, west, and south, the country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. 118,000 in size, this country houses nearly 14 million inhabitants. Formerly known as Nyasaland, the country has Lilongwey as capital and Blantyre as the largest city. The country has been gradually migrating from a country of hunter gatherers to a stable democratic republic.

A popular tourist destination, Malawi has luxury accommodations as well as other types. Luxury accommodations are not more than 3-star in rating and rates are normally in the range of$100-$200 per night. Some budget hotels could cost more if private bath and television set facilities are procured. Several bed and breakfast inns are available in the southern shores of Malawi Lake near Mangochi.

Both expensive and less expensive guesthouse can be found in towns and Lake Sides. Safari camps alongside the lake and national parks and game reserves are cheaper in comparison. One may not find youth hostel type accommodations apart from these safari camps in Malawi.

Brief History and Political Scenario
Settled for the first time in the 10th Century AD, the country Malawi remained under native rules and was a country of hunter gatherers till 1891 when it became a British colony. Malawi gained independence in 1964 and became single party state. Hastings Banda, the president from 1964 onwards was ousted in 1994. With a democratic and multi party government, the country has a small armed force. Among the least developed yet densely populated countries in the world, the economy is agro based and population is largely rural. Outside aid is the major source of sustenance for the country.

Despite low life expectancy, high infant mortality rate, and poor economy, the country is developing steadily and with the growth of Malawi nationalism concept, the political scenario is becoming stable as well.

Geography and Climate
Great Rift Valley from North to South and the Lake Malawi covering three fourth of the eastern boundary are two prominent geographical features of Malawi. 587 Kms long and 84 Kms wide, the Lake Malawi is also known as the calendar lake. Most of the plateaus in Malawi are located at 3000 to 4000 feet above the sea levels. Zomba and Mlanje are the highest mountain peaks at 2134 and 3048 meters respectively.

Climate in lower levels are hot and it is moderate in higher levels. Such moderate climate is the result of high altitude. Warm climate in November through April with equatorial rains and thunderstorms and warm climate in May through October characterizes the climate. From March onwards wet mists float to the plateaus from the highlands and there is scanty rainfall during this period.

Getting Around
Common means of transport used by tourists is the Bus since the trains are slower and crowded. Daily services on train are available from Blantyre to Balaka and a couple of weekly services are also available. However luxury air conditioned buses are the best means of transport inland. Town to town express bus services is available while slower and crowded local services run on the rural routes.

Mini buses are available in most towns and villages and are good for narrow roads. Hitching is normally slow and unreliable. Itala II ferry travel bus is the best way to explore the Lake. About 5,254 Km of highway out of 28,400 Km are tarred. A hassle free travel guide will always suggest checking the road conditions before undertaking any trip. On self drive, international license and a good hooter is essential. Bicycles, children, and wildlife species crossing the road could create hazards for the driver.

Malawian Kwacha or MWK is the currency in use in the country. Current exchange rate for one Euro and one USD is 209.120 and 153.920 MWK respectively. However it would be good looking for the regular news on the currency conversion rates to know the exact currency exchange ratio.

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