As in many countries, the administrative and commercial capitals of Malawi are in separate places. While Lilongwe is the nation’s rather prim-and-proper administrative capital, for those on business it is Blantyre.
Blantyre is the nation’s financial, commercial and transport centre and the home of the Malawi Stock Exchange. The central business district of Blantyre is where it all happens in this otherwise easygoing country.
Both by day and by night, Blantyre is much busier and livelier than the nation’s capital. It has more hotels, more restaurants and more bars than Lilongwe, although these tend to be found out of town rather than in the central business district.
Blantyre has a richer heritage than Lilongwe. Named after the birthplace in Scotland of the explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, Blantyre is one of the oldest urban centres in eastern and southern Africa. It gained municipal status as long ago as 1895, while work on St Michael and All Angels Church in Blantyre began even earlier in 1888.
Set in a range of hills at an altitude of about 1,000 metres, Blantyre has a rather pleasant climate for most of the year except for two or three months of heavy rain.
Blantyre is the perfect gateway to the unspoilt south of Malawi. Many visitors fly to Blantyre and stay overnight before heading off to Liwonde and Majete National Parks or to Zomba and Mulanje.
Blantyre is equally as well served as Lilongwe in terms of air connections and the national carrier, Air Malawi, has its head office at the city’s Chileka International Airport.