Info Lilongwe


Lilongwe is the largest and capital city of Malawi with an estimated population of 1,077,116.

The city is located in the central region of Malawi, near the borders with Mozambique and Zambia, and it is an important economic and transportation hub for central Malawi. It is named after the Lilongwe River.

It's a very green city, to the extent that sometimes you wonder if there is a city centre at all as buildings in the new town at least are divided by patches of grassy land and trees.

POPULATION :  City: 1,077,116
FOUNDED :   1906
LANGUAGE :  Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, other 7.7%
RELIGION :  Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3%
ELEVATION :  1,050 m (3,440 ft)
COORDINATES :  13°59′S 33°47′E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 50.13% 
 Female: 49.87%
ETHNIC :  Chewa 32.6%, Lomwe 17.6%, Yao 13.5%, Ngoni 11.5%, Tumbuka 8.8%, Nyanja 5.8%, Sena 3.6%, Others 7.6%


A variety of bars and night clubs offer opportunities for live music and parties

Due in part to the growth of the expatriate community and the increasing importance of tourism, the number of international restaurants has risen very rapidly over recent years. The city now offers a rich and internationalized diversity of cuisine, such as Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Indian food.

Lilongwe wildlife centre: on the opposite side of the road to the old nature sanctuary. Its back down towards old town by the bridge over the river, look out for the sign. Its a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre that provides excellent tours of the centre and its wilderness zone, a wide range of wildlife and good value for money.

Golf Lessons, Lilongwe Golf Club. Best place to learn golf, very cheap compared to western prices with an excellent 18 hole course. Challenging for even pros.

Old Town Mall. Off Chilambula on the left just as you're driving away from the Lilongwe Sunbird. Catering mostly to the tourist, expat, and wealthy Malawian community, Old Town Mall offers two art and craft galleries, a DVD rental shop, grocery store catering - lightly - to expat tastes with imported food and wine and a book store. Serendipity Cafe and Mamma Mia's Italian Restaurant (see below) are located here as well.

Shoprite. South African chain supermarket, smack dab in the center of town and pretty hard to miss. Most of the tourists passing through town will stop here to stock up. The forex in the same complex has closed so you'll need to cross the street and use the one in the mall (don't bother with the guys on the sidewalk). The Nando's Chicken has closed down and is now 'The Grill House' however once inside is like for like to Nando's - including menu and sauces. There is also a nice, relatively cheap Chicken Inn, which sells ice cream.

Game. Walmart USA-owned Hypermarket opposite Shoprite, newly opened. Stocks food - a shop for hardware, toys, sport equipment etc. Expensive, but is the only place to buy certain objects - tents for example.


Lilongwe had existed for centuries as a small fishing village on the banks of the Lilongwe River. During British Colonial Rule, the settlement became an administrative center due to its strategic location. Formally founded in 1906 as a trading post, Lilongwe was officially recognized as a town in 1947.

After gaining independence, it increasingly developed into an important trading center in Malawi's central region. Its growth was encouraged when the country's former head of state, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, established it as Malawi's new capital city in 1975.


Lilongwe features a humid subtropical climate that borders on a subtropical highland climate with pleasantly warm summers and mild winters.

Due to the altitude, temperatures are lower than would be expected for a city located in the tropics.

Lilongwe features a short wet season that runs from December to March and a lengthy dry season that covers much of the remainder of the year, particularly June and July which are cooler than the rest of the year.


Lilongwe is located on a plateau in Central Malawi, forming part of the East African Rift Valley situated at an altitude of 1,050 m (3,440 ft) above sea level, along Lilongwe River.


While Blantyre is the commercial Capital of Malawi, Lilongwe's economy is dominated by the government and public institutions.

Kanengo District in the north of the city is the main industrial area, where food processing, tobacco storage and sales, maize storage and other light industries take place.

Finance, banking, retail trade, construction, transport, public administration, tourism, and tobacco manufacturing are the main economic activities in the city. 76 percent of Lilongwe's population live in informal settlements, while poverty stands at 25 percent and unemployment at 16 percent. The civil service employs about 27 percent of all formal workers, while 40 percent work in the private sector and 2 percent are self-employed.


Lilongwe is divided into a New and Old City.

The former hosts hotels, embassies, governmental institutions and offices while the latter has markets, bus stations, cafes and restaurants. The modern shops of the City are contrasted by the street and walled markets of Old Town.


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