The history of the territory dealt with above is recent and slight. Apart from the vague Portuguese wanderings during the 16th and 17th centuries, the first European explorer of any education who penetrated into this country was the celebrated Portuguese official, Dr F.J.M. de Lacerda e Almeida, who journeyed from Tete on the Zambezi to the vicinity of Lake Mweru. But the real history of the country begins with the advent of David Livingstone, who in 1859 penetrated up the Shiré river and discovered Lake Nyasa. Livingstone's subsequent journeys, to the south end of Tanganyika, to Lake Mweru and to Lake Bangweulu (where he died in 1873), opened up this important part of South Central Africa and centred in it British interests in a very particular manner. Livingstone's death was soon followed by the entry of various missionary societies, who commenced the evangelization of the country; and these missionaries, together with a few Scottish settlers, steadily opposed the attempts of the Portuguese to extend their sway in this direction from the adjoining provinces of Moçambique and of the Zambezi. From out of the missionary societies grew a trading company, the African Lakes Trading Corporation. This body came into conflict with a number of Arabs who had established themselves on the north end of Lake Nyasa. About 1885 a struggle began between Arab and Briton for the possession of the country, which was not terminated until the year 1896. The African Lakes Corporation in its unofficial war enlisted volunteers, amongst whom were Captain (afterwards Sir F.D.) Lugard and Mr (afterwards Sir) Alfred Sharpe. Both these gentlemen were wounded, and the operations they undertook were not crowned with complete success.
In 1889 Mr (afterwards Sir) H.H. Johnston was sent out to endeavour to effect a possible arrangement of the dispute between the Arabs and the African Lakes Corporation, and also to ensure the protection of friendly native chiefs from Portuguese aggression beyond a certain point. The outcome of these efforts and the treaties made was the creation of the British protectorate and sphere of influence north of the Zambezi (see Africa; § 5). In 1891 Johnston returned to the country as imperial commissioner and consul-general. In the interval between 1889 and 1891 Mr Alfred Sharpe, on behalf of Cecil Rhodes, had brought a large part of the country into treaty with the British South Africa Company, These territories (Northern Rhodesia) were administered for four years by Sir Harry Johnston in connexion with the British Central Africa protectorate. Between 1891 and 1895 a long struggle continued, between the British authorities on the one hand and the Arabs and Mahommedan Yaos on the other, regarding the suppression of the slave trade. By the beginning of 1896 the last Arab stronghold was taken and the Yaos were completely reduced to submission.
Then followed, during 1896-1898, wars with the Zulu (Angoni) tribes, who claimed to dominate and harass the native populations to the west of Lake Nyasa. The Angoni having been subdued, and the British South Africa Company having also quelled the turbulent Awemba and Bashukulumbwe, there is a reasonable hope of the country enjoying a settled peace and considerable prosperity. This prospect has been, indeed, already realized to a considerable extent, though the increase of commerce has scarcely been as rapid as was anticipated. In 1897, on the transference of Sir Harry Johnston to Tunis, the commissionership was conferred on Mr Alfred Sharpe, who was created a K.C.M.G. in 1903. In 1904 the administration of the protectorate, originally directed by the foreign office, was transferred to the colonial office. In 1907, on the change in the title of the protectorate, the designation of the chief official was altered from commissioner to governor, and executive and legislative councils were established. The mineral surveys and railway construction commenced under the foreign office were carried on vigorously under the colonial office.
The increased revenue, from £51,000 in 1901-1902 to £76,000 in 1905-1906, for the protectorate alone (see also Rhodesia), is an evidence of increasing prosperity. Expenditure in excess of revenue is met by grants in aid from the imperial exchequer, so far as the Nyasaland Protectorate is concerned. The British South Africa Company finances the remainder. The native population is well disposed towards European rule, having, indeed, at all times furnished the principal contingent of the armed force with which the African Lakes Company, British South Africa Company or the British government endeavoured to oppose Arab, Zulu or Awemba aggression. The protectorate government maintains three gunboats on Lake Nyasa, and the British South Africa Company an armed steamer on Lake Tanganyika.
Unfortunately, though so rich and fertile, the land is not as a rule very healthy for Europeans, though there are signs of improvement in this respect. The principal scourges are black-water fever and dysentery, besides ordinary malarial fever, malarial ulcers, pneumonia and bronchitis. The climate is agreeable, and except in the low-lying districts is never unbearably hot; while on the high mountain plateaus frost frequently occurs during the dry season.
See Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi, etc., by David and Charles Livingstone (1865); Last Journals of David Livingstone, edited by the Rev. Horace Waller (1874); L. Monteith Fotheringham, Adventures in Nyasaland (1891); Henry Drummond, Tropical Africa (4th ed., 1891); Rev. D.C. Scott, An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the Mang'anja Language, as spoken in British Central Africa (1891); Sir H.H. Johnston, British Central Africa (2nd ed., 1898); Miss A. Werner, The Natives of British Central Africa (1906); John Buchanan, The Shiré Highlands (1885); Lionel Décle, Three Years in Savage Africa (1898); H.L. Duff, Nyasaland under the Foreign Office (1903); J.E.S. Moore, The Tanganyika Problem (1904); articles on North Eastern and North Western Rhodesia (chiefly by Frank Melland) in the Journal of the African Society (1902-1906); annual Reports on British Central Africa published by the Colonial Office; various linguistic works by Miss A. Werner, the Rev. Govan Robertson, Dr R. Laws, A.C. Madan, Father Torrend and Monsieur E. Jacottet.
(H. H. J.)
 The nomenclature of several of these rivers is perplexing. It should be borne in mind that the Luanga (also known as the Lunga) is a tributary of the Luengwe-Kafukwe, itself often called Kafue, and that the Luangwa (or Loangwa) is an independent affluent of the Zambezi (q.v.).
 The organized armed forces and police are under the direction of the imperial government throughout British Central Africa, and number about 880 (150 Sikhs, 730 negroes and 14 British officers).