The conurbation of Blantyre & Limbe is the largest urban area and Malawi’s commercial and industrial capital. This status began through its role as a centre for colonial trade in ivory. Despite forming a continuous urban area, Limbe and Blantyre yet retain their separate individualities: Blantyre is the seat of the country’s judiciary, while Limbe represents the more industrial part. Blantyre settlement was founded in 1876 as a Church of Scotland station by Scottish missionaries and named after the explorer David Livingstone’s birthplace. In 1895, after being a consular post, it attained municipality status in 1895 and became Malawi’s oldest municipality. In 1878 it was also the base of the African Lakes Company, a Scottish firm that became a major commercial and distribution centre. Mandala House, built as the headquarters of the company, was Malawi’s first two-storey building and is believed to be the country’s oldest house, today the building is home to The Society of Malawi which protects and preserves the country’s historical treasure and cultural heritage. By the time of World War I, Blantyre had already established itself as a crossroads for trade in Southern Africa, being home to a significant number of Africans from neighbouring districts and South Asian traders.
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