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The protectorate gained independence in 1964 under its new name, Malawi.

It was declared a republic in 1966, and Prime Minister Banda was elected president by the National Assembly.

The capital, Lilongwe, is roughly in the center of the country.

The first parliamentary elections were held in 1978.

Although only the Malawi Congress Party participated, a majority of the incumbent members were defeated; participation in the 1983, 1987, and 1992 elections also was restricted to that party.

Malawi is a landlocked country that lies east of Zambia, north and west of Mozambique, and south of Tanzania.

Its area is 45,747 square miles (118,500 square kilometers).

European involvement began in 18, when Scottish church missions were established, and a British consul was stationed in the country in 1883.

In 1891, treaties that had been negotiated with indigenous rulers resulted in the formal declaration of a British protectorate called the Nyasaland Districts Protectorate.The major topographic feature is Lake Malawi, a freshwater lake that is home to hundreds of fish species found nowhere else in the world. The topography varies from the high Nyika plateau in the north to the Shire River valley in the south that is an extension of the Great Rift Valley.In the far southeast corner is Mount Mulanje, which is among the highest mountains in Africa.In May 1994, a new constitution was approved, and then the first multiparty elections took place.Bakili Muluzi, the leader of the United Democratic Front and a former federal cabinet member, defeated Banda for the presidency and formed a government dominated by that party.He also maintained friendly relations with Mozambique (until 1975 governed by Portugal) and in 1967 signed a trade pact with South Africa.In November 1970, the constitution was amended to make Banda president for life.The language of government, industry, and commerce is English, which every schoolchild studies.English is spoken in cities but rarely in rural areas.In keeping with the new constitution, which established a human rights commission, Muluzi freed political prisoners and closed three prisons where tortures was said to have taken place. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, called Ngwazi, or ("Fearless Warrior,") had strong ties with and feelings for Britain.In early 1995, Banda and a top deputy were tried for the 1983 killings of four government officials. He modeled his government on the British Parliament and built Kamuzu Academy as a private school patterned after Eton.

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