Paper vis-à-vis Ground Marking Deciphering the Role of Contradictory Cartography in the Malawi-Tanzania Border Dispute

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James Zotto


Cartography, Maps, Border dispute, Lake Nyasa, British Mandate


Cartography played a crucial role during the partitioning of Africa. Territorial boundaries were marked on maps by the colonial powers. However, in some cases, maps were not precise regarding the sites they referred to. Some colonial powers changed original maps by shifting their territorial limits, thus staking a claim to other powers’ territories. In areas where territorial questions from maps had not been sufficiently addressed during the colonial period, the distorted maps became a primary source of border disputes in the post-colonial period. The paper is built on the premise that the cartographic foundation of the Malawi-Tanzania border is knotty. Consequently, Malawi and Tanzania inherited contradictory cartography, each state selecting maps that suits her interests to defend her sovereign limits. Indeed, this has stoked the dispute that has dawdled for decades since independence.


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