Likoma Island

Likoma, also called Isle of Baobab, is a small island in Lake Malawi. It belongs to Malawi, but is an enclave with its neighboring island Chizumulu in the territorial waters of Mozambique.


Likoma District Likoma to administratively classified, the same name with the island name, is the parent of the Northern Region. The island is only 5 km away from the mainland of Mozambique. Up to neighboring island Chizumulu is 10 km away and the mainland of Malawi can be reached in 56 km. A voyage to the nearest port in Malawi, to Nkhata Bay takes about 5 hours on the nearly 40 -mile route. Likoma is at its narrowest point just over 2 km wide and has a length of less than 8 km. The 15 km ² island extends in a northeasterly direction along the shore line to Mozambique. There are two equally high hills on the island, the Phonombo and Njakwa Peak. Both bring it to 605 m altitude. The otherwise rocky coastline of the island has around numerous bays with sandy beaches.


Likoma currently has just over 7000 inhabitants (2009 ), spread over about a dozen villages.

The population is ethnically composed of 75% Nyanja, Chewa and 10% to 10% of Tonga. The remaining 5% are from other ethnic groups. The Tonga are mainly found in two villages in the southern part of the island, while the other tribes have settled mainly around the commercial centers of the island.

As Nyanja language is mostly used. Other dialects as Cobue and Tonga are increasingly present on the neighboring island Chizumulu. 99 % of the population are Christian and predominantly belong to the Anglican Church, on the island opened its first mission in 1903.

Agriculture and food supply

Part of the population lives from agriculture and provides the island with cassava and maize. Another part of living from fishing. The fish is sold partly to Mozambique and Malawi. Baobabs and mangoes cover another part of the food supply.

However, since the number of families who are not growing their own food, to Likoma is higher than in the rest of the country, the population can not take care of himself and needs foods from Malawi and Mozambique. When food prices rise, this leads to supply problems on the island.

Nature and Landscape

The island was originally entirely forested, but the forest has over the years added to the very need for human habitat. The northeastern corner of the isle still has remains of this original forest. This forest, Makungwa Village Forest Area known as, was now placed under protection and the Cluny Wildlife Trust, an NGO, has set itself the goal to preserve this natural habitat. 2007/2008, during the rainy season, 16,000 seedlings were planted for.


The island is accessible only by water or air. Twice a week, comes the stricken -looking steamer Ilala the Malawi Lake Services over, supplies the island with all the necessities and transports passengers and vehicles to and from Malawi and Tanzania. The island has a small non- asphalted road network, the main road again runs across the island from north to south. About the applied airstrip Air Malawi binds the island with 13 - seat aircraft to the mainland. For the connection to Mozambique provide locals their daily services with their small boats. From Ulisa in the west of the island, there are boats to the neighboring island Chizumulu.


Economically Likoma has nothing to offer except tourism. There are a few lodges for backpackers and leisure travelers with claims of medium standards. The district administration and the Malawian government is trying to develop the two islands for tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture underestimated the potential of visitors to around half a million per year in the coming years for Malawi. For this potential to the tourists 35 % from South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania and 25 % from the rest of the world could for the two islands of 40% locals put together.