Lilongwe, (named after the Lilongwe River) is the capital and largest city of Malawi. The city is located in the central region of Malawi, near the borders with Mozambique and Zambia. The city has an estimated population 781,538 as of 2012.
Lilongwe has existed for centuries as a small fishing village on the banks of the Lilongwe River.
During the British colonial period in the beginning of the 20th century, Lilongwe was chosen as British colonial administrative centre, due to its desirable geography. The area had an easy navigable route to Lake Malawi, and connected to Lusaka (in Zambia), Blantyre and Mzuzu. The administrative area where located in what is now known as the City Centre. Up until the 1930s Lilongwe had at most a population of 5000.
After the independence in 1964, Zomba became the capital until 1974 when Hastings Banda made the decision to shift the capital city from Zomba to Lilongwe (against vociferous objections from the British preference for the economically and well developed Blantyre). Lilongwe has seen a rapid population growth and has since 2008 become the most populous city. While Blantyre remains the commercial capital, Lilongwe is gradually replacing Blantyre as the economic capital of Malawi.Lilongwe covers 6,159 km2.