[Country map of Malawi]



Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia

Map references: Africa

total area: 118,480 sq km
land area: 94,080 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries: total 2,881 km, Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi)

Climate: tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)

Terrain: narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains

Natural resources: limestone, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

Land use:
arable land: 25%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 20%
forest and woodland: 50%
other: 5%

Irrigated land: 200 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish population
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Law of the Sea

Note: landlocked


Population: 9,808,384 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (female 2,361,309; male 2,384,679)
15-64 years: 49% (female 2,479,108; male 2,335,729)
65 years and over: 3% (female 139,632; male 107,927) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.63% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 49.81 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 23.53 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)
note: the return of refugees to Mozambique is much reduced compared with 1994

Infant mortality rate: 140.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 39.01 years
male: 38.28 years
female: 39.76 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 7.36 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian

Ethnic divisions: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European

Religions: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, traditional indigenous beliefs

Languages: English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1987)
total population: 48%
male: 65%
female: 34%

Labor force: 428,000 wage earners
by occupation: agriculture 43%, manufacturing 16%, personal services 15%, commerce 9%, construction 7%, miscellaneous services 4%, other permanently employed 6% (1986)


conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
former: Nyasaland

Digraph: MI

Type: multiparty democracy following a referendum on 14 June 1993; formerly a one-party republic

Capital: Lilongwe

Administrative divisions: 24 districts; Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba

Independence: 6 July 1964 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1964)

Constitution: 6 July 1966; republished as amended January 1974

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

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994), leader of the United Democratic Front
cabinet: Cabinet; named by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly: elections last held 17 May 1994 (next to be held 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (177 total) UDF 84, AFORD 33, MCP 55, others 5

Judicial branch: High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders:
ruling party: United Democratic Front (UDF), Bakili MULUZI
opposition groups: Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Gwanda CHAKUAMBA Phiri, secretary general (top party position); Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), Chakufwa CHIHANA; Socialist League of Malawi (Lesoma), Kapote MWAKUSULA, secretary general; Malawi Democratic Union (MDU), Harry BWANAUSI; Congress for the Second Republic (CSR), Kanyama CHIUME; Malawi Socialist Labor Party (MSLP), Stanford SAMBANEMANJA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires ad interim Patrick NYASULU (since 14 October 1994)
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1007

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Peter R. CHAVEAS
embassy: address NA, in new capital city development area in Lilongwe
mailing address: P. O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
telephone: [265] 783 166
FAX: [265] 780 471

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered in the black band; similar to the flag of Afghanistan, which is longer and has the national coat of arms superimposed on the hoist side of the black and red bands


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 90% of export revenues. After two years of weak performance, economic growth improved significantly in 1988-91 as a result of good weather and a broadly based economic adjustment effort by the government. Drought cut overall output sharply in 1992, but the lost ground was recovered in 1993. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The new government faces strong challenges, e.g., to spur exports, to improve educational and health facilities, and to deal with environmental problems of deforestation and erosion.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $7.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 9.3% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $750 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 30% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $416 million
expenditures: $498 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1992 est.)

Exports: $311 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: tobacco, tea, sugar, coffee, peanuts, wood products
partners: US, UK, Zambia, South Africa, Germany

Imports: $308 million (c.i.f., 1993 est.)
commodities: food, petroleum products, semimanufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
partners: South Africa, Japan, US, UK, Zimbabwe

External debt: $1.8 billion (December 1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.5% accounts for about 15% of GDP (1992 est.)

capacity: 190,000 kW
production: 820 million kWh
consumption per capita: 77 kWh (1993)

Industries: agricultural processing (tea, tobacco, sugar), sawmilling, cement, consumer goods

Agriculture: accounts for 40% of GDP; cash crops - tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, and corn; subsistence crops - potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses; livestock - cattle, goats

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $215 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $2.15 billion

Currency: 1 Malawian kwacha (MK) = 100 tambala

Exchange rates: Malawian kwacha (MK) per US$1 - 7.8358 (August 1994), 4.4028 (1993), 3.6033 (1992), 2.8033 (1991), 2.7289 (1990), 2.7595 (1989)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


total: 789 km
narrow gauge: 789 km 1.067-m gauge

total: 13,135 km
paved: 2,364 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone, stabilized earth 251 km; earth, improved earth 10,520 km

Inland waterways: Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi); Shire River, 144 km

Ports: Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkotakota

total: 47
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4
with paved runways under 914 m: 25
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 15


Telephone system: 42,250 telephones
local: NA
intercity: fair system of open-wire lines, radio relay links, and radio communications stations
international: 2 INTELSAT (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean ) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 17, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 0
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army (includes Air Wing and Naval Detachment), Police (includes paramilitary Mobile Force Unit), paramilitary Malawi Young Pioneers

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 2,069,302; males fit for military service 1,056,372 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $13 million, 0.7% of GDP (FY93/94)