Maravi ('flames of the fire') confederacy was established by Bantu speaking people, the Amaravi, who established a base around Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) in the 15th century after migrating south- and east-wards from what is now the Republic of Congo. The name is said to be the origin of the name Malawi.
At its greatest extent the confederacy stretched from the Luangwa river in the west, around the southern half of Lake Nyasa, down the Shire valley and across to the Indian Ocean in the east. The Maravi paramount chief, Kalonga, ruled from Manthimba, the capital (near to the present day town of Mtakataka, at the southern tip of Lake Nyasa).
With the arrival of the Portuguese on the coast to the south of their kingdom, trade increased. But they were soon being predated by the Yao to the north for slaves.
When David Livingstone arrived in 1859, he brought a watershed of Christian missionaries to the region. The direct descendants of the Maravi in the region are known as Chewa.