The first railway did not reach Nyasaland (present day Malawi) until 1935, when a line was opened from the Moçambique port of Beira, entering the territory at a point about 20km south of Nsanje. It was built to 3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge, as were subsequent lines in the country.
The railway network was concessed to a private firm in 1999, with the intention of rehabilitating the run down system. There are now a few passenger services, but they provide very basic facilities and are frequently overcrowded. Freight is generally light and of a local nature. There is an international rail connection between Liwonda and Cuanda, Moçambique. Another rail connection with Moçambique south of Ngabau, is closed. A new cross border link from Mchinji to Chipata, Zambia, opened in 2010.
In 2011 an agreement was signed for the construction of a new railway from the Moatize area of Moçambique linking via existing railways in Malawi to the Moçambique port of Nacala, giving an alternative export route for ore from the Moatize area.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook