1. The Malawians’ first European contact was with the Portuguese. They traded ivory, iron – and slaves.
2. It was the Portuguese introduced maize to the region. Today, maize is still the staple grain of Malawi.
3. Lake Malawi was once called “The Lake of the Stars” by the famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone, because lantern lights he saw from the fishermen’s boats resembled the stars at night.
4. Malawian society is very simple, so 21st century objects, such as digital cameras and mobile phones, can easily draw a crowd of onlookers.
5. In 2006, Malawi was brought into international spotlight when David Banda Mwale, a Malawian boy in an orphanage, was adopted by pop icon Madonna. Controversy surrounded the adoption because Malawi laws require would-be parents to reside in Malawi for one year before adoption – and Madonna didn’t.
6. Malawian men generally prefer wearing slacks rather than walking shorts, as the latter are regarded as a piece of clothing worn only by schoolchildren.
7. The earliest human settlements in Malawi date back to 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. They were bushmen people, whose rock paintings can still be seen outside the capital of Lilongwe.
8. The chambo fish, one of Malawi’s favorite delicacies, is an endangered species.
9. Malawi is the only country in the world that has a Carlsberg factory (with the exception, of course, of Denmark) – so Carlsberg beer is sold here at just about 35p!
10. It is not unusual here to see a 12-seater bus transporting 25 people, plus goats, chicken, and baskets of vegetables.