Nkhotakota (formerly Kota Kota) (name derived from the Chichewa for "Corner Corner") is a town and one of the districts in the Central Region of Malawi. It is on the shore of Lake Malawi (formerly Lake Nyasa) and is one of the main ports on Lake Malawi. As of 2008, Nkhotakota had a population estimated at 33,150. The district had a population of 301.000.
Nkhotakota was originally a group of villages in the 19th century which later served as a market for Arabian slave traders. David Livingstone convinced Chief Jumbe to stop trading slaves under a tree in Nkhotakota in the 19th century, which is currently in existence under a mission. Later Malawi president Hastings Banda gave speeches under another tree in Nkhotakota during the 1960s, this one ironically known as the Livingstone Tree. This town was hit by the 2001 floods, and was the worst hit area of Malawi's Central region. Today, Nkhotakota is the largest traditional African town in Malawi and bears a strong Swahili-Arab influence.
Nkhotakota lies at an elevation of 1,548 feet (472 m) on the shore of Lake Malawi. It is located on a rocky ridge overlooking a natural harbor overlooking Nkhotakota Bay, formed by a sandbar. In addition, Nkhotakota is 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Lilongwe, Malawi's capital, and 378 kilometres (235 mi) from Blantyre, Malawi's largest city.
Nkhotakota is home to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, where, according to Lonely Planet, one has a good chance of seeing elephants. The reserve is also home to several antelope species, buffalo, and leopards. Several large rivers cross this reserve, the largest in Malawi. Roughly 24 kilometres (15 mi) south of Nkhotakota is the Chia Lagoon, a large bay linked to Lake Malawi by a narrow channel, crossed by a bridge near Nkhotakota's one major road.
Locals fish on the Chia Lagoon using triangular nets on poles.
Chichewa is the main language spoken in this town. A Swahili settlement was also established in Nkhotakota. Several Chewa speakers live to the south of Nkhotakota, and Tonga is spoken in its north.
Nkhotakota is one of the main ports on Lake Malawi, and it is served by the ferry MV Ilala that weekly crosses Lake Malawi. The nearest airport is at Kasungu, 48 miles (77 km) away. A bus runs from Salima for two hours daily. In addition, minibuses run from here to Nkhata Bay along the main road which connects these towns.