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If you love African cultures, Malawi will surely be a fascinating experience for you. Even though it is a small country, the local culture is rich and diverse. Heritage and traditions are present throughout the country.
The Malawian people are famous for their friendliness, so much that the country has been nicknamed the "Warm Heart of Africa". Visitors are welcomed with with a smile and the warmth of the welcome is genuine and long-lasting.
Despite its relatively small dimensions, Malawi is one of the more densely peopled countries of East Africa with 14 million people. Most of the population is rural, living largely in fascinating traditional villages. Most of today’s Malawians are descendants of the Bantu people who moved across Africa and into Malawi for hundreds of years up to the fifteenth century. In terms of heritage, the Chongoni hills near Dedza have stone-age rock art which is another of Malawi’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Chewa tribe is the most numerous tribe, but there a rich cultural mix is present. Other tribes include the Yao, the Nyanja and the Maravi. In the north the Tumbuka are the most prominent. Each tribe has contributed to the modern Malawi scene with its own cultures, rituals, dresses or dance or language. Masks are commonly used in various dances and ceremonies and these are usually tribe-specific. Also traditional African medicine and doctors still attract many people and the two main ‘modern’ religions, Christianity and Islam, frequently exhibit a continuing adherence to traditional beliefs.
From a historical perspective, the nineteenth century was the most significant in the country’s history, with intertribal skirmishes, the slave trade, missionaries and explorations, including Dr David Livingstone, who made a number of journeys there. Also British colonial rule clealry left an influence. But Independence was finally granted in 1964, with Dr Hastings Banda becoming the first prime minister of the then-named Nyasaland. Banda made himself President for Life of Malawi but his autocratic rule was ended in 1993 when Malawians voted for a multi-party democracy.