British Central Africa

British Central Africa

British Central Africa was a protectorate proclaimed in 1889 and ratified in 1891 that occupied the same area as present-day Malawi.

British interest in the area arose from visits made by David Livingstone from 1858 onward during his exploration of the Zambezi area. This encouraged missionary activity starting in the 1860s, undertaken by the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland followed by a small number of settlers.

The Portuguese government attempted to claim much of this area, but their claims were disputed by the British government. To forestall a Portuguese expedition claiming effective occupation, a protectorate was proclaimed, first over the south of this area, then over the whole of it in 1889. After negotiations with the Portuguese and German governments on its boundaries, the protectorate was formally ratified by the British government in May, 1891.

The protectorate was renamed Nyasaland in 1907.

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Contributors
  • Adrian de Bourbon
  • Peter Gorton