The Rift Valley stretches the length of Malawi and plays host to Lake Malawi, one of the world's great inland lakes, and the third largest on the African continent. The lake accounts for 1/5th of the size of Malawi itself and is believed to have formed around 500BCE. It is the most southerly of all the Great Rift lakes and its other claim to fame is that a section of the lake at Cape Maclear in the south has been declared the world's first freshwater National Park and a World Heritage site. It is reported that the lake, also known as Lake Nyasa, is home to more species of fish than any other body of water in the world. The lake provides lush vegetation along its shores which in turns supports local farming and, of course, its fishing activity is a major boost for the weak Malawi economy together with a growing tourism industry with the palm lined beaches along the lake's shoreline providing an exotic inland sea experience, but watch out for crocodiles that lurk in the crystal clear waters.
Some call Lake Mlawi the 'calendar lake' as its 52 miles wide and 365 miles from north to south, though that analogy doesn't exactly work in kilometres, but then it was 'discovered' by the British explorer David Livingston over 150 years ago. Unlike Lake Chad, which is very shallow, Lake Malawi plunges to 2300 feet below sea level and already sits 1500 feet above sea level. It's a little known fact that Lake Malawi was the scene for the very first naval victory of the first world war. The German Empire had a gunboat on the lake, the Hermann von Wissmann. On hearing that war had broken out the captain of the British gunboat Guendolen was given orders to sink the German craft which it duly did with a single cannon shot from 2000 yards. Check out the beauty of Lake Malawi with a virtual tour in the video below.
Lake Malawi: Malawi Country Profile
Lake Malawi: Main Lakes of Africa
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