Malawi
Overview
The Republic of Malawi (icon; Chichewa
Chichewa language
Chewa, also known as Nyanja, is a language of the Bantu language family. The gender prefix chi- is used for languages, so the language is also known as Chichewa and Chinyanja.-Distribution:...

 malaβi) is a landlocked country in southeast Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 that was formerly known as Nyasaland
Nyasaland
Nyasaland or the Nyasaland Protectorate, was a British protectorate located in Africa, which was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name. Since 1964, it has been known as Malawi....

. It is bordered by Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 to the northwest, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 to the northeast, and Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi , is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania...

. Its size is over 118000 km² (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe
Lilongwe
Lilongwe, estimated population 902,388 as of 2009, is the capital and largest city of Malawi. It lies in the country's central region, on the Lilongwe River, near the border of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, and on the main north-south highway of Malawi, the M1.-History:The city started life as a...

, the largest city is Blantyre
Blantyre, Malawi
Blantyre or Mandala is Malawi's centre of finance and commerce, the largest city with an estimated 732,518 inhabitants . It is sometimes referred to as the commercial capital of Malawi as opposed to the political capital, Lilongwe...

 and the second largest city is Mzuzu
Mzuzu
Mzuzu is the capital of Malawi's Northern Region and is the third largest city, by population, in Malawi. The City has 128,432 residents plus 20,000 commuters with about 1.7 million people living around the outskirts of the city...

.
Encyclopedia
The Republic of Malawi (icon; Chichewa
Chichewa language
Chewa, also known as Nyanja, is a language of the Bantu language family. The gender prefix chi- is used for languages, so the language is also known as Chichewa and Chinyanja.-Distribution:...

 malaβi) is a landlocked country in southeast Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 that was formerly known as Nyasaland
Nyasaland
Nyasaland or the Nyasaland Protectorate, was a British protectorate located in Africa, which was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name. Since 1964, it has been known as Malawi....

. It is bordered by Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 to the northwest, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 to the northeast, and Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi , is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania...

. Its size is over 118000 km² (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe
Lilongwe
Lilongwe, estimated population 902,388 as of 2009, is the capital and largest city of Malawi. It lies in the country's central region, on the Lilongwe River, near the border of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, and on the main north-south highway of Malawi, the M1.-History:The city started life as a...

, the largest city is Blantyre
Blantyre, Malawi
Blantyre or Mandala is Malawi's centre of finance and commerce, the largest city with an estimated 732,518 inhabitants . It is sometimes referred to as the commercial capital of Malawi as opposed to the political capital, Lilongwe...

 and the second largest city is Mzuzu
Mzuzu
Mzuzu is the capital of Malawi's Northern Region and is the third largest city, by population, in Malawi. The City has 128,432 residents plus 20,000 commuters with about 1.7 million people living around the outskirts of the city...

. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi
Maravi
Maravi was a state established by the Bantu Chewa people, descendants of the Amaravi, in the area of Lake Malawi, in present-day Malawi, in the 16th century...

, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed, "The Warm Heart of Africa".

The area of Africa now known as Malawi was colonized by migrating tribes of Bantu around the 10th century. In 1891 the area was colonized again, this time by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, became part of the semi-independent Central African Federation (CAF). The Federation was dissolved in 1963 and in 1964, Nyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi. Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 under the presidency of Hastings Banda
Hastings Banda
Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the leader of Malawi and its predecessor state, Nyasaland, from 1961 to 1994. After receiving much of his education overseas, Banda returned to his home country to speak against colonialism and advocate for independence...

, who remained president until 1994, when he was ousted from power. Bingu Mutharika, elected in 2004, is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

s.

Malawi is among the world's least developed countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection
Environmental protection
Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the environment, on individual, organizational or governmental level, for the benefit of the natural environment and humans. Due to the pressures of population and our technology the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently...

, and becoming financially independent. Malawi has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.

Malawi has a low life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 and high infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labor force and government expenditures, and is expected to have a significant impact on gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (GDP) by 2010. There is a diverse population of native peoples, Asians
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

 and Europeans
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

, with several languages spoken and an array of religious beliefs. Although there was tribal conflict in the past, by 2008 it had diminished considerably and the concept of a Malawian nationality had begun to form. Malawi has a culture combining native and colonial aspects, including sports, art, dance and music.

History

The area of Africa now known as Malawi had a very small population of hunter gatherers before waves of Bantus began emigrating from the north around the 10th century. Although most of the Bantus continued south, some remained permanently and founded tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s based on common ancestry. By 1500 AD, the tribes had established a kingdom that reached from north of what is now Nkhotakota
Nkhotakota
Nkhotakota is a town and one of the districts in the Central Region of Malawi. It is on the shore of Lake Malawi and is one of the main ports on Lake Malawi. As of 2008, Nkhotakota had a population estimated at 33,150...

 to the Zambezi River and from Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi , is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania...

 to the Luangwa River
Luangwa River
The Luangwa River is one of the major tributaries of the Zambezi River, and one of the four biggest rivers of Zambia. The river generally floods in the rainy season and then falls considerably in the dry season...

 in what is now Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

.

Soon after 1600, with the area mostly united under one native ruler, native tribesmen began encountering, trading
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 with and making alliances with Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 traders and members of the military. By 1700, however, the empire had broken up into areas controlled by many individual tribes, which was noted by the Portuguese in their information gathering.

David Livingstone
David Livingstone
David Livingstone was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa. His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation, "Dr...

 reached Lake Malawi (then Lake Nyasa) in 1859, when Malawi was originally known as Nyasaland under the rule of the British. In a prime example of what is sometimes called the "Thin White Line" of colonial authority in Africa, the colonial government of Nyasaland was formed in 1891. The administrators were given a budget of £10,000 per year, which was enough to employ ten European civilians, two military officers, seventy Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 Sikhs, and eighty-five Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

 porters
Porter (carrier)
A porter, also called a bearer, is a person who shifts objects for others.-Historical meaning:Human adaptability and flexibility early led to the use of humans for shifting gear...

. These few employees were then expected to administer and police a territory of around 94,000 square kilometers with between one and two million people.
In 1944, the Nyasaland African Congress
Nyasaland African Congress
The Nyasaland African Congress was an organization that evolved into a political party in Nyasaland during the colonial period. The NAC was suppressed in 1959, but was succeeded in 1960 by the Malawi Congress Party, which went to on decisively win the first universal suffrage elections in 1961,...

 (NAC) was formed by the Africans of Nyasaland to promote local interests to the British government. In 1953, Britain linked Nyasaland with Northern and Southern Rhodesia
Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

 in what was known as the Central African Federation (CAF), for mainly political reasons. Even though the Federation was semi-independent the linking provoked opposition from African nationalists, and the NAC gained popular support. An influential opponent of the CAF was Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a European-trained doctor working in Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

 who was persuaded to return to Nyasaland in 1958 to assist the nationalist cause. Banda was elected president of the NAC and worked to mobilize nationalist sentiment before being jailed by colonial authorities in 1959. He was released in 1960 and asked to help draft a new constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 for Nyasaland, with a clause granting Africans the majority in the colony's Legislative Counsel.

In 1961, Banda's Malawi Congress Party
Malawi Congress Party
The Malawi Congress Party is a political party in Malawi.It was the successor to the Nyasaland African Congress , which was banned in 1959.The MCP was founded by Hastings Banda and other NAC leaders in 1960....

 (MCP) gained the majority in the Legislative Council elections
Nyasaland general election, 1961
General elections were held for the Legislative Council in Nyasaland in August 1961. There were two voter rolls, a lower roll which elected 20 members, and had 106,095 registered voters, and a higher roll, which elected eight members, with 4,337 registered voters. Voter turnout was 91.5% on the...

 and Banda became Prime Minister in 1963. The Federation was dissolved in 1963, and on 6 July 1964, Nyasaland became independent from British rule and renamed itself Malawi. Under a new constitution, Malawi became a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 under MCP rule in 1966, and in 1970 Banda declared himself president-for-life. For almost 30 years, Banda ruled firmly, suppressing opposition to his party and ensuring that he had no personal opposition.

Despite his political severity, however, Malawi's economy while Banda was president was often cited as an example of how a poor, landlocked, heavily populated, mineral-poor country could achieve progress in both agriculture and industrial development. While in office, and using his control of the country, Banda constructed a business empire that eventually produced one-third of the country's GDP and employed 10% of the wage-earning workforce.

Under pressure for increased political freedom, Banda agreed to a referendum
Malawian democracy referendum, 1993
A referendum on reintroducing multi-party democracy was held in Malawi on 14 June 1993. The result was a victory for the "yes" vote, resulting in fresh elections the following year, and the end to the reign of President-for-life Hastings Banda. Voter turnout for the referendum was 67% of the 4.7...

 in 1993, where the populace voted for a multi-party democracy. In late 1993 a presidential council was formed, the life presidency was abolished and a new constitution was put into place, effectively ending the MCP's rule. In 1994 the first multi-party elections
Malawian general election, 1994
General elections were held in Malawi on 17 May 1994. Following the democracy referendum the previous year, they were the first multi-party elections in the country since prior to independence in 1964...

 were held in Malawi, and Bakili Muluzi
Bakili Muluzi
Elson Bakili Muluzi is a Malawian politician. He was the President of Malawi from 1994 to 2004 and was Chairman of the United Democratic Front until 2009.-Presidency:...

 became president. Muluzi remained president until 2004, when Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika
Bingu wa Mutharika
Bingu wa Mutharika is a Malawi economist who is President of Malawi. He took office on 24 May 2004 after winning a disputed presidential election...

 was elected. Although the political environment is described as "challenging", as of 2009, the multi-party system still exists in Malawi. Multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections
Malawian general election, 2009
A general election was held in Malawi on 19 May 2009. President Bingu wa Mutharika ran for re-election; his main opponent was John Tembo, the President of the Malawi Congress Party . Five other candidates also ran. The election was won by Mutharika, who was re-elected to the Presidency with around...

 were held for the fourth time in Malawi in May 2009, and President Mutharika was successfully re-elected, despite charges of election fraud from his rival.

President Mutharika is seen by some as increasingly autocratic and dismissive of human rights, and in July 2011 protests
2011 Malawian protests
The 2011 Malawi protests were protests aimed at winning political and economic reforms or concessions from the government of Malawi. On 20 July, Malawian organisations protested against perceived poor economic management and poor governance by President Bingu wa Mutharika and his Democratic...

 over high costs of living, devolving foreign relations, poor governance and a lack of foreign exchange reserves erupted.. The protests left 18 people dead and at least 44 others suffering from gun shot wounds.

Politics

Malawi is a democratic, multi-party government, currently under the leadership of President Bingu wa Mutharika. The current constitution was put into place on May 18, 1995. The branches
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 of the government consist of executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, legislative and judicial. The executive includes a president who is both chief of state and head of government, first and second vice president
Vice president
A vice president is an officer in government or business who is below a president in rank. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning 'in place of'. In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president...

s and a cabinet
Cabinet of Malawi
The Cabinet of Malawi is the executive branch of the government, made up of the President, Vice-President and Ministers and Deputy Ministers responsible for the different departments.The current ruling party is the Democratic Progressive Party...

. The president is elected every five years, and the vice president is elected with the president. A second vice president may be appointed by the president if he so chooses, although they must be from a different party. The members of the cabinet are appointed by the president and can be from either inside or outside of the legislature.

The legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly
National Assembly of Malawi
The unicameral National Assembly of Malawi is the country's legislative body. It consists of Members of Parliament from each constituency. They are more commonly addressed as "Members of Parliament" or "MP's"....

 of 193 members who are elected every five years, and although the Malawian constitution provides for a Senate
Senate
A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature or parliament. There have been many such bodies in history, since senate means the assembly of the eldest and wiser members of the society and ruling class...

 of 80 seats, one does not exist in practice. If created, the Senate would provide representation for traditional leaders and a variety of geographic districts, as well as special interest groups including the disabled, youth and women. The independent judicial branch is based upon the English model and consists of a constitutional court, a High Court, a Supreme Court of Appeal and subordinate Magistrate Courts. There are currently nine political parties, with the Democratic Progressive Party
Democratic Progressive Party (Malawi)
The Democratic Progressive Party is the ruling political party in Malawi. The party was formed in February 2005 by Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika after a dispute with the United Democratic Front....

 acting as the ruling party and the Malawi Congress Party
Malawi Congress Party
The Malawi Congress Party is a political party in Malawi.It was the successor to the Nyasaland African Congress , which was banned in 1959.The MCP was founded by Hastings Banda and other NAC leaders in 1960....

 and the United Democratic Front
United Democratic Front (Malawi)
The United Democratic Front claims to be a liberal party in Malawi and is mainly strong in the southern region populated by ethnic Yao. Until 2009 the party was a member of Liberal International, which it joined at the latter's Reykjavík Congress in 1994...

 acting as the main opposition parties in the National Assembly. Suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 is universal at 18 years of age, and the central government budget for 2009/2010 is $1.7 billion.

Malawi is composed of three regions (the Northern, Central and Southern regions), which are divided into 28 districts
Districts of Malawi
||Malawi is divided into 28 districts within three regions. Each District is headed by a District Commissioner:*Central Region**1 Dedza**2 Dowa**3 Kasungu**4 Lilongwe**5 Mchinji**6 Nkhotakota**7 Ntcheu**8 Ntchisi**9 Salima* Northern Region...

, and further into approximately 250 traditional authorities and 110 administrative wards. Local government is administered by central government-appointed regional administrators and district commissioners. For the first time in the multi-party era, local elections took place on November 21, 2000, with the UDF party winning 70% of the available seats. There was scheduled to be a second round of constitutionally mandated local elections in May 2005, but these were canceled by the government.

In February 2005, President Mutharika split with the United Democratic Front and began his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party, which has attracted reform-minded officials from other parties and is winning elections across the country as of 2006. As of 2008, President Mutharika has implemented reforms to address the country's major corruption problem, with at least five senior UDF party members facing criminal charges. In 2008, Malawi was ranked 11th of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 in the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ibrahim Index of African Governance
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is an attempt to statistically monitor African governance levels throughout all the countries of Africa. Funded and led by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, it uses a number of different indicators to compile an overall ranking of countries, which is designed to be...

, an index that measures several variables to provide a comprehensive view of the governance of African countries.

The military of Malawi consists of an army, a navy and an air wing, all considered to form different sections of the Malawian Army
Military of Malawi
The Armed forces of Malawi are the state military organisation responsible for defending Malawi. They originated from British colonial units formed before independence in 1964.-Army structure:...

. Between the three forces there are approximately 5,500 military personnel, 1,500 paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 police and 80 aircraft, none of which are combat aircraft. The navy division is based out of Monkey Bay
Monkey Bay
Monkey Bay or Lusumbwe is a town in Mangochi whichi is in the Mangochi District in the Southern Region of Malawi. The town is on the shore of Lake Malawi and is one of the main ports on Lake Malawi. The population of Monkey Bay is estimated to be 14,591 as of 2008. Monkey Bay is from Lilongwe,...

 on Lake Malawi.

Administrative divisions

Malawi is divided into 28 districts within three regions:

Central Region
Central Region, Malawi
The Central Region of Malawi, population 5,491,034 , covers an area of 35,592 km². Its capital city is Lilongwe, which is also the national capital...


----
  • 1 Dedza
    Dedza District
    Dedza is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. It covers an area of 3,624 km.² to the south of the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, between Mozambique and Lake Malawi.-Geography:...

  • 2 Dowa
    Dowa District
    Dowa is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Dowa. The district covers an area of 3,041 km². and has a population of 411,387. The Chewas are the predominant ethnic group and Nyau dancing is one of the cultures left by the chewa ancestors, followed by Ngonis. These two...

  • 3 Kasungu
    Kasungu District
    Kasungu is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Kasungu. The district covers an area of 7,878 km², borders Zambia and has a population of 480,659....

  • 4 Lilongwe
    Lilongwe District
    Lilongwe is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Lilongwe.The district covers an area of and has a population of 1,346,360. Lilongwe was officially declared a township in 1947. His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Dr...

  • 5 Mchinji
    Mchinji District
    Mchinji is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Mchinji. The district covers an area of 3,356 km.² and has a population of 324,941....

  • 6 Nkhotakota
    Nkhotakota District
    Nkhotakota is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Nkhotakota. The district covers an area of 4,259 km.² and has a population of 229,460. The word Nkhotakota means "zig-zag" in Chichewa.It is located along the shores of lake Malawi....

  • 7 Ntcheu
    Ntcheu District
    Ntcheu is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. It borders with the country of Mozambique. The district headquarters known as BOMA in local language is located in Village Headman Yeneya and the place is commonly called Mphate. The district covers an area of 3,424 km.² and has a...

  • 8 Ntchisi
    Ntchisi District
    Ntchisi is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Ntchisi. The district covers an area of 1,655 km.² and has a population of 167,880....

  • 9 Salima
    Salima District
    Salima is a district in the Central Region of Malawi. The capital is Salima. The district covers an area of 2,196 km.² and has a population of 248,214....


Northern Region
Northern Region, Malawi
The Northern Region of Malawi, population 1,698,502, covers an area of 26,931 km². Its capital city is Mzuzu. The Northern Region borders Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, and Malawi's Central Region to its south....


----
  • 10 Chitipa
    Chitipa District
    Chitipa District is the northernmost district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The capital is Chitipa . The district covers an area of 4,288 km.², and has a population of 126,799...

  • 11 Karonga
    Karonga District
    Karonga is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The district covers an area of 3,355 km.² and has a population of 194,572. It is a border district between Malawi and Tanzania mainly occupied by the Nkhonde tribe...

  • 12 Likoma
    Likoma District
    Likoma District is an exclave of Malawi situated within Mozambique consisting of two main islands, Likoma and Chizumulu in Lake Malawi . It is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi...

  • 13 Mzimba
    Mzimba District
    Mzimba is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The capital is Mzimba. The district covers an area of 10,430 km.² and has a population of 610,944.-Government:...

  • 14 Nkhata Bay
    Nkhata Bay District
    Nkhata Bay is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The capital is Nkhata Bay. The district covers an area of 4,071 km.² and has a population of 164,761.Nkhata Bay District houses the charity group in Mwaya....

  • 15 Rumphi
    Rumphi District
    Rumphi is a district in the Northern Region of Malawi. The capital is Rumphi. The district covers an area of 4,769 km.² and has a population of 128,360.-Notable residents:Rumphi has produced some well-known politicians like...


Southern Region
Southern Region, Malawi
The Southern Region of Malawi, population 5,876,784, covers an area of 31,753 km². Its capital city is Blantyre.Of the 28 districts in Malawi, 12 are located within the Southern Region They are: Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje,...


----
  • 16 Balaka
    Balaka District
    Balaka is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Balaka. The district covers an area of 2,193 km.² and has a population of over 310,000. The district's population is increasing at a rate of 2.3% per annum. Major attractions in Balaka District include St...

  • 17 Blantyre
    Blantyre District
    Blantyre is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Blantyre, a commercial city where most Malawian industrial and business offices are. The district covers an area of 2,012 km² and has a population of 809,397...

  • 18 Chikwawa
    Chikwawa District
    Chikwawa is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Chikwawa. The district covers an area of 4,755 km.² and has a population of 356,682....

  • 19 Chiradzulu
    Chiradzulu District
    Chiradzulu is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Chiradzulu. The district covers an area of 767 km.² and has a population of 236,050....

  • 20 Machinga
    Machinga District
    Machinga is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Machinga. The district covers an area of 3,771 km.² and has a population of 369,614....

  • 21 Mangochi
    Mangochi District
    Mangochi is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Mangochi. The district covers an area of 6,273 km.² and has a population of 610,239.Mangochi contains thirteen National Assembly constituencies...

  • 22 Mulanje
    Mulanje District
    Mulanje is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Mulanje. The district covers an area of 2,056 km.² and has a population of 428,322...

  • 23 Mwanza
    Mwanza District
    Mwanza is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Mwanza. The district covers an area of 2,259 km.² and has a population of 138,015.Mwanza is a border town whose economy is based largely on transport...

  • 24 Nsanje
    Nsanje District
    Nsanje is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Nsanje. The district covers an area of and has a population of 194,924.-Location:...

  • 25 Thyolo
    Thyolo District
    The Thyolo district of Malawi is one of the districts in Malawi. The capital is Thyolo. The district covers an area of 1,715 km.² and has a population of 458,976...

  • 26 Phalombe
    Phalombe District
    Phalombe is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The capital is Phalombe. The district covers an area of 1,394 km.² and has a population of 231,990....

  • 27 Zomba
    Zomba District
    Zomba District is one of twelve districts in the Southern Region of Malawi, surrounded by the Districts of Chiradzulu, Blantyre, Mulanje, Phalombe, Machinga, Balaka and the Republic of Mozambique to the east...

  • 28 Neno
    Neno District
    Neno is a district in the Southern Region of Malawi. The district has a population of approximately 80,000. District Mwanza in 2003 was split into two districts, Neno and Mwanza, under the decentralisation program....


Foreign relations

Former President Banda established a pro-Western foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 that continued into early 2011. It included good diplomatic relationships with many Western countries. The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy strengthened Malawian ties with the United States. Significant numbers of students from Malawi travel to the US for schooling, and the US has active branches of the Peace Corps
Peace Corps
The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the United States Government, as well as a government agency of the same name. The mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand US culture, and helping...

, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agency for International Development in Malawi. Malawi maintained close relations with South Africa throughout the Apartheid era, which strained Malawi's relationships with other African countries. Following the collapse of apartheid in 1994, diplomatic relationships were made and maintained into 2011 between Malawi and all other African countries. In 2010, however, Malawi's relationship with Mozambique became strained, partially due to disputes over the use of the Zambezi River and an inter-country electrical grid. In 2007, Malawi established diplomatic ties with China, and Chinese investment in the country has continued to increase since then, despite concerns regarding treatment of workers by Chinese countries and competition of Chinese business with local companies. In 2011, relations between Malawi and the United Kingdom was damaged when a document was released in which the British ambassador to Malawi criticized President Mutharika. Mutharika expelled the ambassador from Malawi, and in July 2011, the UK announced that it was suspending all budgetary aid because of Mutharika's lack of response to criticisms of his government and economic mismanagement. On July 26, 2011, the United States followed suit, freezing a US$350 million grant, citing concerns regarding the government's suppression and intimidation of demonstrators and civic groups, as well as restriction of the press and police violence.
Malawi has been seen as a haven for refugees from other African countries, including Mozambique and Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, since 1985. These influxes of refugees have placed a strain on the Malawian economy but have also drawn significant inflows of aid from other countries. Donors to Malawi include the United States, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and the UK, as well as international institutions such as the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the African Development Bank
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

 and UN organizations.

Malawi is a member of several international organizations including the UN and some of its child agencies, the IMF, the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 and the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

. Malawi tends to view economic and political stability in southern Africa as a necessity, and advocates peaceful solutions through negotiation. The country was the first in southern Africa to receive peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 training under the African Crisis Response Initiative.

Human rights

As of 2010, international observers noted issues in several human rights areas. Excessive force was seen to be used by police forces, security forces were able to act with impunity, mob violence was occasionally seen, and prison conditions continued to be harsh and sometimes life threatening. However, the government was seen to make some effort to prosecute security forces who used excessive force. Other legal issues included limits on free speech and freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, lengthy pretrial detentions, and arbitrary arrests and detentions. Societal issues found included violence against women, human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 and child labor. Corruption within the government is seen as a major issue, despite the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) attempts to reduce it. The ACB appears to be successful at finding and prosecuting low level corruption, but higher level officials appear to be able to act with impunity. Corruption within security forces is also an issue.

As of 2010, homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 was illegal in Malawi, and in one recent case, a couple perceived as homosexual faced extensive jail time when convicted. The convicted pair, sentenced to the maximum of 14 years of hard labor each, were pardoned two weeks later following the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

..

Geography

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique to the south, southwest and southeast. It lies between latitudes
9th parallel south
The 9th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 9 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

 and 18°S
18th parallel south
The 18th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 18 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

, and longitudes 32°
32nd meridian east
The meridian 32° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Turkey, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 36°E
36th meridian east
The meridian 36° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

The Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

 runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi , is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania...

 (also called Lake Nyasa
Nyasa
Nyasa, also spelled Nyassa or Niassa, is a common word for "lake" in the languages spoken around what is now known as Lake Malawi. In the colonial period that lake was called Lake Nyasa and Malawi was named Nyasaland....

), making up over three-quarters of Malawi's eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587.4 km) long and 52 miles (83.7 km) wide.

The Shire River
Shire River
The Shire is a river in Malawi and Mozambique. The river has been known as the Shiré or Chire River. It is the outlet of Lake Malawi and flows into the Zambezi. Its length is 402 km; including Lake Malawi and the Ruhuhu, its headstream, it has a length of about 1200 km...

 flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 250 miles (402.3 km) farther south in Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 1500 feet (457 m) above sea level, with a maximum depth of 2300 feet (701 m), which means the lake bottom is over 700 feet (213 m) below sea level at some points.
In the mountainous sections of Malawi surrounding the Rift Valley, plateaus rise generally 3000 to 4000 ft (914.4 to 1,219.2 m) above sea level, although some rise as high as 8000 feet (2,438 m) in the north. To the south of Lake Malawi lie the Shire Highlands
Shire Highlands
The Shire Highlands are a plateau in southern Malawi, located east of the Shire River. Ranging in elevation from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, it is a major agricultural area and the most densely-populated part of the country....

, gently rolling land at approximately 3000 feet (914 m) above sea level. In this area, the Zomba and Mlanje
Mulanje Massif
The Mulanje Massif, also known as Mount Mulanje, is a large monadnock in southern Malawi near the city of Blantyre, rising sharply from the surrounding plains of Chiradzulu, and the tea-growing Mulanje district...

 mountain peaks rise to respective heights of 7000 feet (2,134 m) and 10000 feet (3,048 m).

Malawi's capital is Lilongwe
Lilongwe
Lilongwe, estimated population 902,388 as of 2009, is the capital and largest city of Malawi. It lies in the country's central region, on the Lilongwe River, near the border of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, and on the main north-south highway of Malawi, the M1.-History:The city started life as a...

, and its commercial center and largest city is Blantyre
Blantyre, Malawi
Blantyre or Mandala is Malawi's centre of finance and commerce, the largest city with an estimated 732,518 inhabitants . It is sometimes referred to as the commercial capital of Malawi as opposed to the political capital, Lilongwe...

 with a population of over 500,000 people. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park
Lake Malawi National Park
Lake Malawi National Park is a national park located in Malawi at the southern end of Lake Malawi. It is the only national park in Malawi that was created to protect fish and aquatic habitats. Despite this, Lake Malawi National Park does include a fair amount of land, including several small...

 was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area
Chongoni Rock Art Area
Chongoni Rock Art Area is located in the Central Region of Malawi. This was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006....

 was listed in 2006.

Climate

Malawi's climate is hot in the low-lying areas in the south of the country and temperate in the northern highlands. The altitude moderates what would be an otherwise equatorial climate. Between November and April the temperature is warm with equatorial rains and thunderstorms, with the storms reaching their peak severity in late March. After March, the rainfall rapidly diminishes and from May to September wet mists float from the highlands into the plateaus, with almost no rainfall during these months.

Economy

Malawi is among the world's least developed and most densely populated countries. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas. The economy is based on agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, and more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues come from this. In the past the economy has been dependent on substantial economic aid from the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF) and other countries.

In December 2000, the IMF stopped aid disbursements due to corruption concerns, and many individual donors followed suit, resulting in an almost 80% drop in Malawi's development budget.
However, in 2005, Malawi was the recipient of over US$575 million in aid. The Malawian government faces challenges in developing a market economy, improving environmental protection, dealing with the rapidly growing HIV/AIDS problem, improving the education system and satisfying its foreign donors that it is working to become financially independent. Improved financial discipline had been seen since 2005 under the leadership of President Mutharika and Financial Minister Gondwe
Goodall Edward Gondwe
Goodall Edward Gondwe is a Malawian economist. He is in the current cabinet of Malawi as the Minister of Natural Resources. He is a former Minister of Finance and Minister of local Government for the nation of Malawi...

. This discipline has since evaporated as shown by the purchase in 2009 of a private presidential jet followed almost immediately by a nationwide fuel shortage which was officially blamed on logistical problems, but was more likely due to the hard currency shortage caused by the jet purchase. The overall cost to the economy (and healthcare system) is unknown.

In addition, some setbacks have been experienced, and Malawi has lost some of its ability to pay for imports due to a general shortage of foreign exchange, as investment fell 23% in 2009. There are many investment barriers in Malawi, which the government has failed to address, including high service costs and poor infrastructure for power, water and telecommunications. As of 2009, it was estimated that Malawi had a GDP (purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

) of $12.81 billion, with a per capita GDP of $900, and inflation estimated at around 8.5% in 2009.

Agriculture accounts for 35% of GDP, industry for 19% and services for the remaining 46%. Malawi has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, although economic growth was estimated at 9.7% in 2008 and strong growth is predicted by the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 for 2009. The poverty rate in Malawi is decreasing through the work of the government and supporting organizations, with people living under the poverty line decreasing from 54% in 1990 to 40% in 2006, and the percentage of "ultra-poor" decreasing from 24% in 1990 to 15% in 2007.

Malawi was ranked the 119th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.

Agriculture

The main agricultural products of Malawi include tobacco, sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, potatoes, sorghum
Sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

, cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 and goats. The main industries are tobacco, tea and sugar processing, sawmill
Sawmill
A sawmill is a facility where logs are cut into boards.-Sawmill process:A sawmill's basic operation is much like those of hundreds of years ago; a log enters on one end and dimensional lumber exits on the other end....

 products, cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

 and consumer goods. The industrial production growth rate is estimated at 10% (2009). The country makes no significant use of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

. As of 2008, Malawi does not import or export any electricity, but does import all its petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, with no production in country. Beginning in 2006, the country began mixing unleaded petrol with 10% ethanol
Ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

, produced in-country at two plants, to reduce dependence on imported fuel. In 2008, Malawi began testing cars that ran solely on ethanol, and initial results are promising, and the country is continuing to increase its use of ethanol.

As of 2009, Malawi exports an estimated US$945 million in goods per year. The country's heavy reliance on tobacco (it accounts for about 70% of export revenues) places a heavy burden on the economy as world prices decline and the international community increases pressure to limit tobacco production. The country also relies heavily on tea, sugar and coffee, with these three plus tobacco making up more than 90% of Malawi's export revenue. Malawi's dependence on tobacco is growing, with the product jumping from 53% to 70% of export revenues between 2007 and 2008.

Other exported goods are cotton, peanuts, wood products and apparel. The main destination locations for the country's exports are South Africa, Germany, Egypt, Zimbabwe, the United States, Russia and the Netherlands. Malawi currently imports an estimated US$1.625 billion in goods per year, with the main commodities being food, petroleum products, consumer goods and transportation equipment. The main countries that Malawi imports from are South Africa, India, Zambia, Tanzania, the US and China.

In 2006, in response to disastrously low agricultural harvests, Malawi began a program of fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 subsidies that were designed to re-energize the land and boost crop production. It has been reported that this program, championed by the country's president, is radically improving Malawi's agriculture, and causing Malawi to become a net exporter of food to nearby countries. Also in 2006, international superstar Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

 started Raising Malawi
Raising Malawi
Raising Malawi is a charity non-profit organization that was founded by Madonna and Michael Berg in 2006. It is dedicated to helping with the extreme poverty and hardship endured by Malawi's one million orphans.-Mission statement:-Charity fundraiser:...

, a foundation that focuses on raising money and building infrastructure to help AIDS orphans in Malawi, and also financed a documentary about the hardships experienced by Malawian orphans. Raising Malawi also works with the Millennium Villages Project
Millennium Villages Project
The Millennium Villages Project is a project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the United Nations Development Programme, and Millennium Promise....

 to improve education, health care, infrastructure and agriculture in Malawi.

Infrastructure

As of 2009, Malawi has 32 airport
Airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

s, 6 with paved runways and 26 with unpaved runways. The country has 495 miles (796.6 km) of railways, all narrow-gauge, and 9601 miles (15,451.3 km) of roadways, 4322 miles (6,955.6 km) paved and 5279 miles (8,495.7 km) unpaved. Malawi also has 435 miles (700.1 km) of waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

s on Lake Malawi and along the Shire River.

As of 2008, there were 236,000 land line telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

s in Malawi, and 1.781 million cell phones, which is almost 15 cell phones per 100 people. There were 316,100 Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 users as of 2008, and 741 Internet hosts as of 2009. As of 2001 there were 14 radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

s and 1 TV station. In the past, Malawi's telecommunications system has been named as some of the poorest in Africa, but conditions are improving, with 130,000 land line telephones being connected between 2000 and 2007. Telephones are much more accessible in urban areas, with less than a quarter of land lines being in rural areas.

Demographics

Malawi has a population of over 15 million, with a growth rate
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 of 2.75%, according to 2009 estimates.

Malawi's population is made up of the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao
Yao (ethnic group in Africa)
The Yao people, Wayao, are a major ethnic and linguistic group based at the southern end of Lake Malawi, which played an important part in the history of East Africa during the 19th century. The Yao are a predominantly Muslim people group of about 2 million spread over three countries, Malawi,...

, Lomwe, Sena
Sena people
The Sena are major people of Mozambique.Historically the autocephalous Sena groups were situated between the two major centralised kingdoms of Monomotapa and of Maravi or between the two cultures of Shona and Nyanja-Chewa...

, Tonga, Ngoni
Ngoni people
The Ngoni people are an ethnic group living in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, in east-central Africa. The Ngoni trace their origins to the Zulu people of kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa...

 and Ngonde native ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s, as well as populations of Asians
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

 and Europeans
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

. Major languages include Chichewa, an official language spoken by over 57% of the population, Chinyanja (12.8%), Chiyao (10.1%) and Chitumbuka (9.5%).

Other native languages are Malawian Lomwe, spoken by around 250,000 in the southeast of the country; Kokola, spoken by around 200,000 people also in the southeast; Lambya
Lambya
The Lambya, also known as the Nkoya, are an ethnic and linguistic group based along the border of northwestern Malawi and southwestern Tanzania. A minority also exists in Zambia...

, spoken by around 45,000 in the northwestern tip; Ndali, spoken by around 70,000; Nyakyusa-Ngonde, spoken by around 300,000 in northern Malawi; Malawian Sena, spoken by around 270,000 in southern Malawi; and Tonga, spoken by around 170,000 in the north.

Religion

According to 2007 estimates, approximately 80% of the population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian
Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian
The Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian is a Presbyterian denomination. It consists of five synods: one in Zambia , one in Zimbabwe and three in Malawi - Livingstonia Synod in the north of the country, Nkhoma Synod in the centre, and Blantyre Synod in the south.The CCAP is the largest...

 making up the largest Christian groups. There are also smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

. Around 13% of the population is Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, with most of the Muslim population being Sunni, of either the Qadriya or Sukkutu groups. Other religious groups within the country include Jews, Rastafarians
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s and Baha'is. Atheists
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

 make up around 4% of the population, although this number includes people who practice traditional African religions.

Health

Infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 rates are high, and life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at birth is 50.03 years. There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 930,000 adults (or 11.9% of the population) living with the disease in 2007. There are approximately 68,000 deaths a year from HIV/AIDS (2007). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients. The high rate of infection has resulted in an estimated 5.8% of the farm labor force dying of the disease, and HIV/AIDS is expected to lower the country's GDP by at least 10% by 2010. The government spends over $120,000 each year on funerals for civil servants who die of the disease.

There is a very high degree of risk for major infectious diseases, including bacterial and protozoal diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

, hepatitis A
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus , an RNA virus, usually spread the fecal-oral route; transmitted person-to-person by ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person...

, typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

, malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

, plague, schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by several species of trematodes , a parasitic worm of the genus Schistosoma. Snails often act as an intermediary agent for the infectious diseases until a new human host is found...

 and rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

. Malawi has been making progress on decreasing child mortality and reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; however, the country has been "[performing] dismally" on reducing maternal mortality and promoting gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

.

Education

In Malawi, primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 is not compulsory, but the Constitution requires that all people be entitled to at least five years of primary education. In 1994, free primary education for all children was established by the government, which increased attendance rates. Dropout rates are higher for girls than boys, attributed to security problems during the long travel to school, as girls face a higher prevalence of gender-based violence. However, attendance rates for all children are improving, with enrollment rates for primary schools increased from 58% in 1992 to 75% in 2007, while the number of students who begin in grade one and complete grade five has increased from 64% in 1992 to 86% in 2006. Youth literacy has also increased, moving from 68% in 2000 to 82% in 2007. This increase is primarily attributed to improved learning materials in schools, better infrastructure and feeding programs that have been implemented throughout the school system.

Culture


The name "Malawi" comes from the Maravi
Maravi
Maravi was a state established by the Bantu Chewa people, descendants of the Amaravi, in the area of Lake Malawi, in present-day Malawi, in the 16th century...

, a Bantu people who immigrated from the southern Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 around 1400 AD. Upon reaching northern Lake Malawi, the group divided, with one group moving south down the west bank of the lake to become the group known as the Chewa, while the other group, the ancestors of today's Nyanja, moved along the east side of the lake to the southern section of Malawi. Ethnic conflict and continuing migration prevented the formation of a society that was uniquely and cohesively Malawian until the dawn of the 20th century. Over the past century, ethnic distinctions have diminished to the point where there is no significant inter-ethnic friction, although regional divisions still occur. The concept of a Malawian nationality has begun to form around a predominantly rural people who are generally conservative and traditionally nonviolent.

From 1964–2010, the Flag of Malawi
Flag of Malawi
The current flag of Malawi was adopted on 2010, after the Democratic Progressive Party-led government had proposed a new flag. The stripes were altered from the previous flag to match the original Pan-African Flag layout, with the red stripe at the top, the black stripe in middle, and the green...

 was made up of three equal horizontal stripes of black, red and green with a red rising sun superimposed in the center of the black stripe. The black stripe represented the African people, the red represented the blood of martyrs for African freedom, green represented Malawi's ever-green nature and the rising sun represented the dawn of freedom and hope for Africa. In 2010, the flag was changed, removing the red rising sun and adding a full white sun in the center as a symbol of Malawi's economic progress
Economy of Malawi
The economy of Malawi is predominantly agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. The landlocked country in south central Africa ranks among the world's least developed countries. Agriculture accounts for 37% of GDP and 85% of export revenues...

.

A strong part of Malawi's culture are its dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

s, and the National Dance Troupe (formerly the Kwacha Cultural Troupe) was formed in November 1987 by the government. Traditional music and dances can be seen at initiation rites, ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s, marriage ceremonies and celebrations. Soccer is the most common sport in Malawi, introduced there during British colonial rule. Basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 is also growing in popularity.

The indigenous ethnic groups of Malawi have a rich tradition of basketry and mask
Mask
A mask is an article normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes...

 carving
Wood carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object...

, and some of these goods are used in traditional ceremonies still performed by native peoples. Wood carving
Wood carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object...

 and oil painting
Oil painting
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil—especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body...

 are also popular in more urban centers, with many of the items produced being sold to tourists. There are several internationally recognized literary figures from Malawi, including poet Jack Mapanje
Jack Mapanje
Jack Mapanje is a Malawian writer and poet. He was the former head of English at the University of Malawi, and is currently a senior lecturer in English at Newcastle University.-Works:* Of Chameleons and Gods, 1981...

, history and fiction writer Paul Zeleza
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is a Malawian historian, literary critic, novelist, short-story writer and blogger at The Zeleza Post -. He is currently president of the African Studies Association...

 and authors Legson Kayira
Legson Kayira
Legson Didimu Kayira is a Malawian novelist. Kayira, an ethnic Tumbuka, received an education at Skagit Valley College, University of Washington and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. His early works focused on Malawi's rural life, while his later writings satired the Hastings Banda...

, Felix Mnthali
Felix Mnthali
Felix Mnthali is a Malawian poet, novelist and playwright. Educated at what is now the National University of Lesotho, Mnthali has been published several times, including a book of poetry called When Sunset Comes to Sapitwa and a novel called My Dear Anniversary...

, Frank Chipasula
Frank Chipasula
Dr. Frank M. Chipasula is a Malawian writer, editor and university professor. Previously a professor of Black Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Howard University, Chipasula has also worked as the education attache at the Malawian embassy in Washington, D.C.. Chipasula went into...

 and David Rubadiri
David Rubadiri
James David Rubadiri is a Malawian diplomat, academic and poet. At independence in 1964, Rubadiri was appointed Malawi's first ambassador to the United States and the United Nations...

.

See also

  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...



External links

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