Jan S. Krogh's Geosite: Likoma & Chisumula Islands (Malawi)

Two Malawian islands inside Mozambique territorial waters.

Likoma District is the smallest of 28 districts in Malawi. It makes two small enclaves in the Mozambican territorial waters in Lake Malawi.  The district is only about 5 kilometers from the shores of Lake Malawi on the Mozambique side.

Fragment of a map from 2000 of the two exclaves; Chizumulu Island and Likoma Island. As we can see both island exclaves consist from a few smaller islands and islets as well. 1)


The district which belongs to the Northern Region is spread over two small islands, Likoma Island – which is the main island and which has given the name to the district, and Chizumulu Island. To the mainland on the Malawian side, it is 46 kilometers from Chizumulu, and the nearest port of Nkhata Bay is located 55 kilometers away. The two islands are separated by 10 kilometers. 

Chizumulu Island with its territorial waters occupies an area of 101.4 kmē, while Likoma Island and its territorial waters cover an area of 130 kmē – a total area of 231.4 kmē, whereof only 18 kmē is dry.


The population of 10,445 persons (2008) is spread over both islands. Despite this relatively small area, the population growt in the years 1998-2008 was 29.4%, only about two percentage points below the national average. The leader among the districts based on population density is Likoma. 580 inhabitants per kmē in the district is almost twice as high as the next on the list. The number of persons per household is 5.2, among the highest in Malawi, including cities. 2)

Ethnically, the majority of the population comes from the Nyanja and the Tonga, whereof Nyanja is commonly spoken, while dialects as Cobue and Tonga appear more on the Chizumulu Island. 99% of the population are Christians who mainly belong to the Anglican Church. 3)


Tourism is important. There are a few lodges for backpackers and for the average tourist. The district administration and the Malawian government is trying to develop the two islands for tourism. 


CIA - The World Factbook 2002 -- Malawi

They are making two enclaves/exclaves as the Malawian land is completely surrounded by foreign territory (inland waters).

Aero map of the territory. The two islands appear to be under Mozambique airspace. 


1. Thanks to Borderbase for the map.
2. Population and Housing Census, National Statistic Office, Zomba, September 2008. 
3. District Education Plan (DEP) 2008/09-2001/11, Likoma District Assembly, Likoma, December 2007.

4. The main text about the Likoma District is based upon the article from the German Wikipedia.

This page was last time updated 26/02/12 .