General issues: British protectorate 1891-1907
Country name on general issues: B.C.A., British Central Africa
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1891-1907
Population: 717 000 in 1900
Political history British Central Africa
British Central Africa is located – other than the name suggests – in what the United Nations currently would call eastern Africa. In the 19th century British Central Africa is inhabited by several different population groups. Some of these stem from the kingdom of Maravi that was at its height in the 17th century when it contained most of what will become British Central Africa. Some population groups are relatively new to the country as they migrated into the country when the power of the Maravi kingdom was waning. A migration that would continue until the early 20th century.
The British establish, in the 1860’s and 1870’s, a limited presence in the country, more specific in the Shire Highlands. In 1889, the British form the Shire Highlands protectorate. The interest of the British, at the time, is mainly to stop the Portuguese expansion from Mozambique. In 1891, the Shire Highlands protectorate is extended to become the British Central Africa protectorate.Some resources state that in 1891 the Nyasaland Districts protectorate was formed and that the name was not changed to British Central Africa until 1893. Because stamps in the name of British Central Africa were issued from 1891, I follow the resources stating that the name British Central Africa was used from 1891. The borders are agreed upon in treaties with Germany in 1890 and Mozambique in 1891. The border with Northeastern Rhodesia is agreed upon with the British South Africa Company in 1891.
In 1907, the name of the protectorate is changed to Nyasaland. Nyasaland, together with Northern and Southern Rhodesia, from 1953 until 1963 forms the federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland. Nyasaland gains independence within the British Commonwealth in 1964 as Malawi.
Postal history British Central Africa
The first stamps for British Central Africa are issued in 1891. The first issues are overprints on stamps of the British South Africa Company reading ‘B.C.A’. The first definitives are issued in 1895. Stamps were issued for both postal and fiscal use. Particularly the higher values – stamps being issued with a face value of up to 25 pound – are almost exclusively used for fiscal purposes. Stamps issued by British Central Africa have, until 1895, been used in Northeastern Rhodesia. Mail from Northeastern Rhodesia was processed through British Central Africa, British Central Africa being connected with the main shipping routes on the Indian Ocean through Chinde and Quelimane in Mozambique.
The issues of British Central Africa are, from 1907, superseded by the issues of Nyasaland. Between 1953 and 1963, the stamps of the federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland were used and from 1964 the issues of Malawi.