Republic in SE Africa, bounded on the N and NE by Tanzania, on the E, S, and SW by Mozambique; and on the W by Zambia. The original inhabitants of the area were probably a Pygmy-like people, but in the 15th century Bantu-speaking tribes migrated from the W and N and merged with the Malawi kingdom centered in the Shire River valley. In the 18th century the kingdom conquered much of modern Zimbabwe and Mozambique before its decline due to civil strife and invasion by Yao slave traders. In the 1840s there was further turmoil in the area with the arrival of the Ngoni from South Africa.
The region was visited by Livingstone in 1859. It became a British protectorate in 1891. In 1915 the area was the scene of a rebellion led by a Yao Christian missionary, John Chilembwe, primarily as a protest against British taxation policies. More recently, and before its independence, Nyasaland was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963. This was protested by Nyasaland ’s black leadership. The nation achieved independence in 1964 and became a republic in 1966. In 1971 its leader, Dr. Hastings Band a, who had led the anti- British movement in the 1950s and 1960s, became the first head of an independent black African nation to visit South Africa. In that same year, he declared himself president for life. He alienated many because of his autocracy and by his allowing Europeans to hold considerable influence in the country. In the late 1980s relations with neighboring Mozambique became strained with Malawi hosting rebel forces and many civil war refugees. Mozambique closed its border with Malawi, causing the land locked country to ship all good through South African ports at great expense.
In 1992 in the midst of a severe drought, there were strong protests against Band a’s rule, and in 1993, a referendum established multiparty elections and stripped Band a of his lifetime presidency. In 1994, Band a was defeated by Bakili Muluzi, who was reelected in 1999. Efforts by Muluzi to run for a third term were rejected, and in 2004, Bingu wa Mutharika was elected. Mutharika had trouble maintaining support due to an anticorruption campaign that has targeted some of his coalition partners.