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Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor and subsequently started his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2005. As president, MUTHARIKA has overseen some economic improvement. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi. MUTHARIKA was... See More



 Southern Africa, east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique

Geographic Coordinates:

 13 30 S, 34 00 E


 Total: 118,484 sq km
Land: 94,080 sq km
Water: 24,404 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 2,881 km
Border countries: Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km


 0 km (landlocked) (Rank: 227)

Maritime Claims:

 None (landlocked)


 Sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)


 Narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
Highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m

Natural Resources:

 Limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

Land Use:

 Arable land: 20.68%
Permanent crops: 1.18%
Other: 78.14% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 590 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 17.3 cu km (2001)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 1.01 cu km/yr (15%/5%/80%)
Per capita: 78 cu m/yr (2000)

Environment - Current Issues:

 Deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

Signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - Note:

 Landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature

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 Noun: Malawian(s)
Adjective: Malawian

Ethnic Groups:

 Chewa 32.6%, Lomwe 17.6%, Yao 13.5%, Ngoni 11.5%, Tumbuka 8.8%, Nyanja 5.8%, Sena 3.6%, Tonga 2.1%, Ngonde 1%, other 3.5% (2008 census)


 Chichewa (official) 57.2%, Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census)


 Christian 82.7%, Muslim 13%, other 1.9%, none 2.5% (2008 census)


 15,879,252 (July 2011 est.)

Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 45.1% (male 3,586,696/female 3,571,298)
15-64 years: 52.2% (male 4,140,874/female 4,155,015)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 182,304/female 243,065) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 17.2 years
Male: 17.1 years
Female: 17.4 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 2.763% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 40.85 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 13.22 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 20% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 5.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 Blantyre 856,000; LILONGWE (capital) 821,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.015 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 510 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 81.04 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 85.11 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 76.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 51.7 years
Male: 50.93 years
Female: 52.48 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 5.43 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 4.8% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.019 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 1.1 beds/1,000 population (2007)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 95% of population
Rural: 77% of population
Total: 80% of population
Urban: 5% of population
Rural: 23% of population
Total: 20% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 51% of population
Rural: 57% of population
Total: 56% of population
Urban: 49% of population
Rural: 43% of population
Total: 44% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 11% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 920,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 51,000 (2009 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: very high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague
Water contact disease: schistosomiasis
Animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 15.5% (2006)

Education Expenditures:

 4.2% of GDP (2003)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 62.7%
Male: 76.1%
Female: 49.8% (2003 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 9 years
Male: 9 years
Female: 9 years (2007)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
Conventional short form: Malawi
Local long form: Dziko la Malawi
Local short form: Malawi
Former: British Central African Protectorate, Nyasaland Protectorate, Nyasaland

Government Type:

 Multiparty democracy


 Name: Lilongwe
Geographic coordinates: 13 59 S, 33 47 E
Time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 28 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba


 6 July 1964 (from the UK)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day (Republic Day), 6 July (1964)


 May 18, 1994

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal

International Law Organization Participation:

 Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government: President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004)

Cabinet: 46-member Cabinet named by the president

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 19 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)

Election results: Bingu wa MUTHARIKA elected president; percent of vote - Bingu wa MUTHARIKA 66%, John TEMBO 30.7%, other 3.3%

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Elections: last held on 19 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)

Election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - DPP 114, MCP 26, UDF 17, independents 32, other 4

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court of Appeal; High Court (chief justice appointed by the president, puisne judges appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission); magistrate's courts

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Alliance for Democracy or AFORD [Dindi NYASULU]; Congress of Democrats or CODE [Ralph KASAMBARA]; Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [Bingu wa MUTHARIKA]; Malawi Congress Party or MCP [John TEMBO]; Malawi Democratic Party or MDP [Kampelo KALUA]; Malawi Forum for Unity and Development or MAFUNDE [George MNESA]; Maravi People's Party [Uladi MUSSA]; National Unity Party or NUP [Harry CHIUME]; New Rainbow Coalition Party [Beatrice MWALE]; New Republican Party [Gwanda CHAKUWAMBA]; People's Progressive Movement or PPM [Aleke BANDA]; People's Transformation Movement or PETRA [Kamuzu CHIBAMBO]; Republican Party or RP [Stanley MASAULI]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Bakili MULUZI]; United Democratic Party [Kenedy KALAMBO]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Agri-Ecology Media (agriculture and environmental group); Council for NGOs in Malawi or CONGOMA (human rights, democracy, and development); Human Rights Consultative Committee or HRCC (human rights); Malawi Law Society (human rights and law reform); Malawi Movement for the Restoration of Democracy or MMRD (acts to restore and maintain democracy); Public Affairs Committee or PAC (promotes democracy, development, peace and unity)

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen D. Tennyson MATENJE
Chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 721-0270
FAX: [1] (202) 721-0288

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Jeanine E. JACKSON
Embassy: 16 Jomo Kenyatta Road, Lilongwe 3
Mailing address: P. O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
Telephone: [265] (1) 773 166
FAX: [265] (1) 770 471

Flag Description:

 Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), black, and green; a white sun disc is centered on the black band, its surrounding 45 white rays extend partially into the red and green bands; black represents the native peoples, red the blood shed in their struggle for freedom, and green the color of nature; the sun represents Malawi's economic progress since attaining independence

National Anthem:

 Name: "Mulungu dalitsa Malawi" (Oh God Bless Our Land of Malawi)
Lyrics/music: Michael-Fredrick Paul SAUKA

Note: adopted 1964

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Economy - Overview:

 Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture, which has benefited from fertilizer subsidies since 2006, accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. In December 2007, the US granted Malawi eligibility status to receive financial support within the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) initiative. The government faces many challenges including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. Since 2005 President MUTHARIKA'S government has exhibited improved financial discipline under the guidance of Finance Minister Goodall GONDWE and signed a three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility worth $56 million with the IMF. Improved relations with the IMF lead other international donors to resume aid as well. The government has announced infrastructure projects that could yield improvements, such as a new oil pipeline, for better fuel access, and the potential for a waterway link through Mozambican rivers to the ocean, for better transportation options. Since 2009, however, Malawi has experienced some setbacks, including a general shortage of foreign exchange, which has damaged its ability to pay for imports, and fuel shortages that hinder transportation and productivity. Investment fell 23% in 2009, and continued to decline in 2010. The government has failed to address barriers to investment such as unreliable power, water shortages, poor telecommunications infrastructure, and the high costs of services.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $12.98 billion (2010 est.)
$12.18 billion (2009 est.)
$11.32 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $5.053 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 6.6% (2010 est.)
7.6% (2009 est.)
8.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $800 (2010 est.)
$800 (2009 est.)
$800 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 30.2%
Industry: 16.3%
Services: 53.5% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 5.747 million (2007 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 90%
Industry and services: 10% (2003 est.)

Unemployment Rate:


Population Below Poverty Line:

 53% (2004)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 3%
Highest 10%: 31.9% (2004)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 39 (2004)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 22.7% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $1.667 billion
Expenditures: $1.619 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 33% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 34.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
37.8% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 7.4% (2010 est.)
8.4% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 15% (31 December 2009)
15% (31 December 2008)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 24.675% (31 December 2010 est.)
25.3% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $502.1 million (31 December 2008)
$361.5 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $491.1 million (31 December 2008)
$250.4 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $677.1 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$561 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $1.434 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.233 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $1.464 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.464 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $1.363 billion (31 December 2010)
$1.383 billion (31 December 2009)
$1.771 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses, groundnuts, Macadamia nuts; cattle, goats


 Tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 12.5% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 1.676 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 3.3%
Hydro: 96.7%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 1.559 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 8,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 7,124 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$502 million (2010 est.)
-$317.5 million (2009 est.)


 $964.3 million (2010 est.)
$912.4 million (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Tobacco 53%, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel

Exports - Partners:

 India 10.4%, Germany 9.7%, South Africa 7.5%, Russia 7.4%, Zimbabwe 7.4%, Canada 6.4%, US 6.3%, Netherlands 4.7% (2010)


 $1.665 billion (2010 est.)
$1.544 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Food, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment

Imports - Partners:

 South Africa 41.4%, Zambia 7.8%, India 7.5%, China 6.1%, Tanzania 5%, France 4.4%, Mozambique 4.2% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $280.1 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$163.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $1.269 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.115 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Malawi Kwacha to Any Currency

Malawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar -
151.65 (2010)
141.14 (2009)
142.41 (2008)
141.12 (2007)
135.96 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 160,100 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 3.038 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: rudimentary; privatization of Malawi Telecommunications (MTL), a necessary step in bringing improvement to telecommunications services, completed in 2006

Domestic: limited fixed-line subscribership of about 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular services are expanding but network coverage is limited and is based around the main urban areas; mobile-cellular subscribership about 15 per 100 persons

International: country code - 265; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast Media:

 Radio is the main broadcast medium; state-run radio has the widest geographic broadcasting reach, but about a dozen privately-owned radio stations broadcast in major urban areas; the single television network is government-owned; relays of multiple international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 9, FM 5 (plus 15 repeater stations), shortwave 2 (plus one shortwave station on standby) (2001)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 1 (2001)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 870 (2010)

Internet Users:

 716,400 (2009)

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 32 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 6
Over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 26
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 13
Under 914 m: 12 (2010)


 Total: 797 km
Narrow gauge: 797 km 1.067-m gauge (2010)


 Total: 15,451 km
Paved: 6,956 km
Unpaved: 8,495 km (2003)


 700 km (on Lake Nyasa [Lake Malawi] and Shire River) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Chilumba

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Military Branches:

 Malawi Defense Forces (MDF): Army (includes Air Wing, Marine Unit) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18 years of age for voluntary military service; standard obligation is 2 years of active duty and 5 years reserve service (2007)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 3,514,809 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,132,909
Females age 16-49: 2,043,925 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 183,683
Female: 183,028 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.3% of GDP (2006)

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Disputes - International:

 Disputes with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River remain dormant

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Last Updated: December 2011

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