Blantyre was founded in 1876 through the missionary work of the Church of Scotland. It was named after Blantyre, South Lanark-shire, Scotland, birthplace of the explorer David Livingstone. Blantyre is Malawi's centre of finance and commerce, and its second largest city, with an estimated 1,068,681 inhabitants as of 2015. It is sometimes referred to as the commercial and industrial capital of Malawi as opposed to the political capital, Lilongwe. It is the capital of the country's Southern Region as well as the Blantyre District. Serving as Malawiâ€™s commercial hub is the pulsating city of Blantyre. With a population of more than 700,000, it is a bustling center of industry. With hotels, restaurants and a major airport, Blantyre feels more like a cohesive city than the capital Lilongwe. Blantyre first began as a missionary settlement in 1876, making it the oldest municipality in Malawi. It was named after the Scottish town where missionary David Livingstone was born. Blantyre was a major trading center for ivory, but now has several factories and industrial sites, all of which contribute significantly to the cityâ€™s economic stability. There are Western-style shops, many of which are located in the Chichiri Shopping Center. Here, the Central Bookshop store is stocked with stationery, novels, travel guides and coffee table books of Malawi. For crafts, head to the downtown crafts market in downtown. Here, vendors display their works, which include figurines, masks, decorative bowls and furniture. Good roads, an influx of university students and a sizeable community of expats make Blantyre a popular stopover for travelers headed to other parts of Southern Malawi. Things to see include historical buildings such as the St. Michael and All Angels Church and the Mandala House.
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