The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size is over 118,000 km2 with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, the second largest city is Blantyre and the third largest city is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed, “The Warm Heart of Africa”.
The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi’s eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 587 km long and 84 km wide. The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 400 km farther south in Mozambique. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 457 m above sea level, with a maximum depth of 701 m, which means the lake bottom is over 213 m below sea level at some points.