Status: Republic in Southeastern Africa
Population: 20,308,502 (2021 est.)
Area: 45,747 sq. miles
Currency: 812 Kwacha = US$1 (2021)
Explorer Dr. David Livingstone’s discovery of Lake Nyasa in 1859 opened the region around the lake to European missionaries. Clashes between missionaries and slave traders led the British to send a consul into the area in 1883, but it made no formal territorial claims. In 1886, the African Lakes Company, a private firm that supported the missionaries, established the first regional mail service. International correspondence was carried down the Zambezi River to the Mozambique port of Quelimane, where it was put into the Portuguese mails.
German East East Africa Scott N102 and British Central Africa Scott 49
In 1890, Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSA) was granted a charter for neighboring Rhodesia, and with Rhodes’ support, the British consolidated their presence in the Nyasaland territory. On July 20, 1890, the British vice consul, who was also postmaster, announced that stamps were available at three Nyasaland post offices: Chiromo, Blantyre and Zomba. In 1891, the British officially established the Nyasaland Districts Protectorate.
(Note, you will find stamps of this land scattered about four Scott Standard catalogs.)
The first issue of postage stamps consisted of 15 values of the recent BSA issue overprinted “BCA” (British Central Africa). At that time, the British commissioner in Zomba was also responsible for the administration of the British South Africa lands in Rhodesia north of the Zambezi River. The entire area, including Nyasaland, was known informally as British Central Africa. The stamps were valid in both jurisdictions. On February 22, 1893, the protectorate was officially designated as the British Central Africa Protectorate.
Nyasa Protecorate Scott 40 and Malawi Scott 12
The Nyasaland postmaster reported somewhat apologetically that the first issue consisted of overprinted stamps because the protectorate could not afford printed stamps. In 1895, a better funded protectorate was able to issue a new set of engraved stamps, designed by its commissioner and printed by De La Rue in London.
In 1895, administration of the Rhodesian lands was assumed by the British South Africa Company and on July 6, 1907, the name Nyasaland Protectorate was restored. The first stamps inscribed with the new name appeared in 1908 with an image of King Edward VII.
With the outbreak of World War I, roughly 20,000 African Rifles fought in neighboring German East Africa. Five stamps overprinted “N.F.” in Lusaka was produced for this force (listed in the Scott catalog under German East Africa), which also used unoverprinted Nyasaland stamps.
After the war, the British sought to merge Nyasaland with a neighboring colony to reduce the cost of colonial administration. Several options were considered including Kenya, Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia. Finally, in 1944, a committee was formed to promote closer contact with the two Rhodesias. In 1953 the three colonies were formed into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a move that was widely unpopular in Nyasaland. On February 15, 1954, stamps inscribed “Rhodesia and Nyasaland” began to replace the separate issues for the three states.
Nyasaland Scott 69
By the end of 1963, it was clear that the federation would break up. Nyasaland resumed its own stamp program. On November 1, 11 overprinted revenue stamps were placed on sale in the colony. On July 6, 1964, the Nyasaland Protectorate became independent and changed its name to Malawi. Stamps with the new name appeared that same day. In 1971, Malawi adopted the kwacha, a decimal currency (1 kwacha = 100 Tambala) to replace the Malawi pound. Stamps have been denominated in kwacha since that time.