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Map of Malawi
Introduction Malawi
Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule, the country held multiparty elections in 1994 under a provisional constitution, which took full effect the following year. National multiparty elections were held again in 1999.
Geography Malawi
Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Geographic coordinates:
13 30 S, 34 00 E
Map references:
total: 118,480 sq km
water: 24,400 sq km
land: 94,080 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)
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: 19.93%
permanent crops: 1.33%
other: 78.74% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
280 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
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, Nuclear Test Ban, 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
People Malawi
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 2,358,730; female 2,347,017)
15-64 years: 53.2% (male 2,810,478; female 2,884,601)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 120,761; female 180,237) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.39% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
37.13 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
23.2 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
119.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 36.59 years
female: 37.15 years (2002 est.)
male: 36.05 years
Total fertility rate:
5.04 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
15.96% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
800,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
70,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian
Ethnic groups:
Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 3%, other 2%
English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58%
male: 72.8%
female: 43.4% (1999 est.)
Government Malawi
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
former: British Central African Protectorate, Nyasaland Protectorate, Nyasaland
Government type:
multiparty democracy
Administrative divisions:
27 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
6 July 1964 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day (Republic Day), 6 July (1964)
18 May 1994
Legal system:
based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: 38-member Cabinet named by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 15 June 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: Bakili MULUZI reelected president; percent of vote - Bakili MULUZI (UDF) 51.4%, Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA (MCP-AFORD) 44.3%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 15 June 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - UDF 48%, MCP 34%, AFORD 15%, others 3%; seats by party - UDF 96, MCP 61, AFORD 30, others 6
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 [Chakufwa CHIHANA, president]; Malawi Congress Party or MCP [Gwanda CHAKUAMBA, president, John TEMBO, vice president]; Malawi Democratic Party or MDP [Kampelo KALUA, president]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Bakili MULUZI] - governing party
Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Democratic Alliance [Brown MPINGANJIRA]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Paul Tony Steven KANDIERO
FAX: [1] (202) 265-0976
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1007
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roger A. MEECE
embassy: Area 40, Plot 24, Kenyatta Road
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 black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered in the black band
Government - note:
the executive exerts considerable influence over the legislature
Economy Malawi
Economy - overview:
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. The government faces strong challenges, e.g., to fully develop a market economy, to improve educational facilities, to face up to environmental problems, and to deal with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth.
purchasing power parity - $7 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $660 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 19%
services: 41% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
54% (FY90/91 est. )
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
28.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
4.5 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 86% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $490 million
expenditures: $523 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY99/00 est.)
tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate:
2.5% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
825 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 3%
hydro: 97%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
767.25 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses; cattle, goats, groundnuts, Macadamia nuts
$415.5 million f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel
Exports - partners:
South Africa 18%, Germany 13%, US 13%, UK 10%, Japan 7%, Netherlands 3% (2000)
$463.6 million f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
food, petroleum products, semimanufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
Imports - partners:
South Africa 40%, UK 11%, Zimbabwe 7%, Japan 5%, Germany 2%, US 1.8%, Zambia (2000)
Debt - external:
$2.8 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$427 million (1999) (1999)
Malawian kwacha (MWK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Malawian kwachas per US dollar - 67.3111 (December 2001), 72.1973 (2001), 59.5438 (2000), 44.0881 (1999), 31.0727 (1998), 16.4442 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Malawi
Telephones - main lines in use:
38,000 (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
49,000 (2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: system employs open-wire lines, microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 9, FM 5 (plus 15 repeater stations), shortwave 2 (plus a third station held in standby status) (2001)
2.6 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
7 (2001)
Internet users:
35,000 (2002)
Transportation Malawi
total: 797 km
narrow gauge: 797 km 1.067-m gauge (2001)
total: 14,594 km
paved: 2,773 km
unpaved: 11,821 km (2001)
144 km
note: on Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and Shire Riverall
Ports and harbors:
Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Chilumba
44 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 6
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 37
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 22 (2002)
Military Malawi
Military branches:
Army (including Air Wing and Naval Detachment), Police (including paramilitary Mobile Force Unit)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,535,207 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,301,625 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$9.5 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.76% (FY00/01)
Transnational Issues Malawi
Disputes - international:
Malawi and Tanzania maintain a largely dormant dispute over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and current location of historical boundary in meandering Songwe River

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003