Land Area (km²) / Rank 6,273 km² / 3rd out of 28 districts
Population (2018) / Rank 1,148,611 / 4th out of 28 districts
Population Density / Rank 183 persons/km² / 16th out of 28 districts

Mangochi is the historic and characterful town located between Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe.

It was founded by colonial administrator Sir Harry Johnston in 1891 as a British colonial defence post on the littoral plain of the Shire River’s western shore to limit the slave traffic moving northwards towards the Lake and on to Zanzibar.

The town has a number of historical monuments, moderately interesting museum and modern Catholic Cathedral.

These include a clock tower erected in memory of Queen Victoria standing near the modern and scenic Bakili Muluzi bridge, a Hotchkiss gun taken from the British Gunboat Gwendolen used in Britain’s first naval victory of World War I, and a gunboat which patrolled Lake Malawi from 1889 to 1940. Alongside the clock tower is a simple stone memorial to the 145 lives lost when the MV Viphya sank in 1946.

The Old Town centre, on 1.5km west of the Shire River as it flows between Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe, has a tangible Islamic influence dating to the slaving era, and its faded whitewashed buildings and sticky tropical ambience recall some of the more rundown towns along the Swahili coast.

It developed as an agricultural centre and has marine-engineering shops.

Local cash crops include tobacco, cotton and groundnuts. Rice and maize are intensively grown along the lakeshore, and commercial fishing is important.

The surrounding region is mainly inhabited by the Yao people, and Yao, specifically of the Mangochi dialect, is the main language spoken in this town.

Many hotels and cottages line the southern Lake Malawi.

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  1. Lake Malawi National Park, the world’s first freshwater national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site lies in Mangochi.
  2. The town has a number of historical monuments including a clock towerBakili Muluzi bridge, a Hotchkiss guna gunboat and a stone memorial.
  3. Mangochi is mainly inhabited by the Yao people, and Yao is the main language spoken in this district.

Getting there and away

Mangochi lies about 65km from Monkey Bay at the southern end of the M10 and 75km north of Liwonde along the M3. The Old Town centre lies about 1km east of the main road between Monkey Bay and Liwonde. Mangochi is an important public transport hub, and all buses between Blantyre and Monkey Bay stop in Mangochi. There is no shortage of minibus to Lilongwe and the Mozambican border at Chiponde as well.