Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 1984
Size of heritage: 9,400 ha

Longitude: 34,883°
Latitude: -13,967°


Located at the southern end of the great expanse of Lake Malawi, with its deep, clear waters and mountain backdrop, the national park is home to many hundreds of fish species, nearly all endemic. Its importance for the study of evolution is comparable to that of the finches of the Galapagos Islands.

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Lake Malawi National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Central and Southern Regions of Malawi. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984 due to its outstanding universal value as a freshwater ecosystem and its rich biodiversity. The park encompasses a significant portion of Lake Malawi, the third-largest lake in Africa, and its surrounding areas.


The history of Lake Malawi National Park dates back thousands of years. The lake itself is believed to have formed around two million years ago, and its unique ecosystem has evolved over time. The park has been inhabited by various indigenous communities, including the Chewa, Yao, and Tonga people, who have relied on the lake for their livelihoods.

In the 19th century, European explorers and missionaries arrived in the region, bringing with them new influences and technologies. This period marked the beginning of significant changes in the area, including the introduction of commercial fishing and the establishment of settlements along the lake's shores.

Recognizing the ecological importance of Lake Malawi and its surrounding areas, the Malawian government declared the lake and its islands a national park in 1980. Four years later, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, ensuring its protection and preservation for future generations.

Current State

Lake Malawi National Park is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, both underwater and on land. The park covers an area of approximately 94,000 hectares, with about 20% of it being terrestrial and the remaining 80% submerged beneath the lake's surface.

The underwater world of Lake Malawi is a diver's paradise, with crystal-clear waters and over 1,000 species of colorful cichlid fish. These fish, found nowhere else in the world, have evolved into a remarkable array of shapes, sizes, and colors, making the lake a globally significant site for evolutionary studies.

On land, the park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The surrounding hills and plateaus are covered in lush vegetation, providing habitat for numerous bird species, mammals, and reptiles. Visitors to the park may encounter elephants, hippos, baboons, and a variety of antelope species.

The local communities living around Lake Malawi National Park play a crucial role in its conservation. They have been actively involved in sustainable fishing practices and the protection of the park's resources. Additionally, tourism has become an important source of income for these communities, providing them with economic incentives to preserve the park's natural beauty.

However, Lake Malawi National Park faces several challenges, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat degradation. Efforts are being made by the Malawian government, non-governmental organizations, and local communities to address these issues and ensure the long-term sustainability of the park.


Lake Malawi National Park is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the unique biodiversity and cultural heritage of Malawi. Its pristine waters, diverse wildlife, and the harmonious coexistence of local communities make it a truly exceptional place. By preserving and protecting this natural treasure, we can ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate and benefit from the wonders of Lake Malawi National Park.