Named after Dr Livingstone's birthplace in Scotland, Blantyre is Malawi's commercial centre and capital of the country's Southern Region, as well as the Blantyre District. Though the city has a smaller population than Lilongwe, Blantyre is the largest urban area in Malawi, having expanded to virtually merge with Limbe, its 'sister city'.
St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre © Andrew Dressel
Blantyre has a modest but influential expat community, with residents from the UK, other European countries and South Africa dominating. The city is also home to the College of Medicine, the Malawi Polytechnic, the Kamuzu College of Nursing and constituent colleges of the University of Malawi, making it an academic hub as well as a commercial centre.
Mount Soche and the Ndirande, Chiradzulu and Michiru mountains overlook Blantyre, forming the Michiru Mountain Conservation Area, which makes for a good outdoor playground on the city's doorstep. Cultural sightseeing options include The National Museum, which houses a collection of traditional weapons and artefacts, as well as exhibits relating to traditional dance, European exploration and slavery.
There are various restaurants and hotels, as well as pubs and sports bars. The last decade or so has seen much of the nightlife diffuse from the city centre to the suburbs, making taxis a necessary part of evening jaunts in the city. Blantyre is also home to the Chichiri Mall, which is one of the largest in the country.
Business travellers in Malawi are most likely to be based in Blantyre and many tourists also end up in the city at some point, though it is seldom more than a transfer point or brief stopover on the way to somewhere else. It's a good place to relax, do a bit of shopping, enjoy some good local food and take advantage of banking facilities before moving to more remote areas of Malawi.
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