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Malawi History Timeline

1500s AD - 1800s
  • (1500s) Various tribes emerged and established the Kingdom of Maravi
  • (1600s) Alliances with Portuguese traders were formed
  • (1780) Slave trade led by East Coast Arabs massively increased
  • (1859) David Livingstone reached Lake Malawi and identified an area south of the lake as an area suitable for European settlement
  • (1878) A mission company from Scotland, owned by Livingstone, developed a river route into Central Africa to enable trade
  • (1891) The Nyasaland and District Protectorate were established by Britain
  • (1893) Malawi was merged into the British Central African Protectorate

1900s
  • (1907) The British Central African Protectorate was officially named Nyasaland
  • (1915) A violent revolt against British ruling was carried out and led by John Chilembwe
  • (1944) The Nyasaland African Congress was established
  • (1953) Britain combined Nyasaland with the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe)
  • (1959) The Nyasaland African Congress was banned following violent clashes with nationalists and colonial authorities; the Malawi Congress Party was founded
  • (1963) Nyasaland was granted self-governance with Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda as prime minister
  • (1964) Nyasaland declared independence as Malawi
  • (1966) Banda was named president of the Republic of Malawi and the constitution established a one-party state
  • (1971) Banda declared himself president-for-life
  • (1992) Demonstrations were sparked when Catholic bishops publicly condemned Banda
  • (1993) The one-party state was rejected by voters in a referendum
  • (1994) Bakili Muluzi, leader of the United Democratic Front, was elected president
  • (1997) Banda died in a South African hospital while being treated for pneumonia
  • (1999) President Muluzi was re-elected

2000s
  • (2002) Drought caused widespread crop failure across southern Africa; a railway line linking central Malawi and the Mozambican port of Nacala was reopened after nearly 20 years
  • (2004) Bingu wa Mutharika was elected president
  • (2005) Mutharika resigned from the UDF and formed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
  • (2005) Regional drought conditions affected nearly 5 million people
  • (2007) A crop surplus is experienced prompting Malawi to export 400,000 tons of maize to Zimbabwe
  • (2008) Diplomatic relations with Taiwan were ended with sights shifting to China
  • (2009) Mutharika was re-elected
  • (2010) A gay couple was jailed for violating anti-homosexuality laws, sparking international condemnation - the couple was released and given a presidential pardon
  • (2011) Anti-government protests left 19 dead; British aid to Malawi was halted after the government was accused of mishandling the economy and failing to uphold human rights
  • (2012) President Mutharika died and was succeeded by vice-president Joyce Banda; the kwacha currency was devalued by a third to satisfy the International Monetary Fund requirements to restore funding
  • (2012) A border dispute with Tanzania over Lake Malawi's potential oil and gas reserves was intervened by the African Union
  • (2012) Criminalization laws regarding homosexual relationships were suspended pending a decision to overturn the ban
  • (2013) Allegations of widespread corruption prompted President Banda to sack the cabinet
  • (2014) Peter Mutharika elected president

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.