The origins of Lilongwe lie in a small fishing village on the banks of the Lilongwe River. In 1906, a settlement for Asian traders soon attracted Europeans. At the beginning of the 20th century, Lilongwe was chosen as the British colonial administrative center due to its easily navigable route to Lake Malawi and its location at the junction of several major roadways (to Lusaka, Blantyre, and Mzuzu). During this period, the emergence of a major tobacco industry increased the city’s importance as an agricultural market center. After the country’s independence in 1964, Zomba became the capital of Malawi until 1974, when President Hastings Banda decided to shift the country’s capital to Lilongwe, where he was born. The city is divided into two sections: the Old and New Town, or Capital City. The former is the area where the original village was located and today it maintains the appearance of a traditional African settlement. The latter came into existence only after Lilongwe became the capital and it retains a more modern and developed urban aspect. Between the Old and New towns, it lies The Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary, a natural area, and Malawi’s only sanctuary for rescued and injured wild animals.
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