Chilwa, Lake

Lake, southeastern Malawi.

It lies in a depression southeast of Lake Malawi between the Shire Highlands and the Mozambique border. Today it covers about 1,000 sq mi (2,600 sq km); it was much larger when David Livingstone arrived there in 1859, and originally it filled the entire depression.

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lake, Malaŵi
also called  Lake Shirwa,  Portuguese  Chirua,  

      lake in southeastern Malaŵi. It lies in a depression between the Shire Highlands (west) and the Mozambique border (east) that extends north-northeast from the foot of the Mulanje Mountains through Lake Chiuta to the Lugenda Valley in Mozambique. The Chilwa basin-plain is broken by a few hill formations (including Chisi Island and Mpyupyu Hill) and exhibits five terrace levels formed by shrinkage of the lake.

      Originally filling the entire depression, the lake has dropped in recent times; it was 30 ft (9 m) deeper and much larger when David Livingstone arrived there in April 1859. With a maximum depth of 10 ft, the lake now covers an area of 1,000 sq mi (2,600 sq km), half of which is covered by swamp and mixed savanna vegetation. It forms an endoreic (in-flowing) drainage system for the western Mulanje Mountains, the Chilwa-Phalombe Plain, and the Zomba and Chikala mountains. The main rivers flowing toward the lake—the Sombani, Palombe, and Likangala—all have perennial sources but run dry because of evaporation and seepage as they cross the lacustrine sands and silts of their lower reaches. The lake level fluctuates 2–3 ft with the seasons, and its waters are increasingly saline away from the swampy shores. The lake margins are cultivated with rice during the dry season, and commercial fishing is important.

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Universalium. 2010.

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