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Republic of Malawi

CAPITAL: Lilongwe

FLAG: The national flag is a horizontal tricolor of black, red, and green, with a red rising sun in the center of the black stripe.

ANTHEM: Begins "O God, Bless Our Land of Malawi."

MONETARY UNIT: The kwacha (k) of 100 tambala (t) is the national currency; it replaced the Malawi pound (m£) on 28 August 1970 and was linked with the pound sterling until November 1973. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 tambala, and notes of 50 tambala and 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 kwacha. k1 = $0.00832 (or $1 = k120.21) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Martyrs' Day, 3 March; Kamuzu Day, 14 May; Republic or National Day, 6 July; Mothers' Day, 17 October; National Tree Planting Day, 21 December; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country in southeastern Africa, Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) has an area of 118,480 sq km (45,745 sq mi), of which 24,400 sq km (9,420 sq mi) consists of water, chiefly Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Niassa). Comparatively, the area occupied by Malawi is slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. Malawi extends 853 km (530 mi) ns and 257 km (160 mi) ew. It is bounded on the n and e by Tanzania, on the e, s, and sw by Mozambique, and on the w by Zambia, with a total boundary length of 2,881 km (1,790 mi).

Malawi's capital city, Lilongwe, is located in the central part of the country.


Topographically, Malawi lies within the Great Rift Valley system. Lake Malawi, a body of water some 580 km (360 mi) long and about 460 m (1,500 ft) above sea level, is the country's most prominent physical feature. About 75% of the land surface is plateau between 750 m and 1,350 m (2,460 and 4,430 ft) above sea level. Highland elevations rise to over 2,440 m (8,000 ft) in the Nyika Plateau in the north and at Mt. Sapitwa (3,000 m/9,843 ft). The lowest point is on the southern border, where the Shire River approaches its confluence with the Zambezi at 37 m (121 ft) above sea level.


Variations in altitude in Malawi lead to wide differences in climate. The vast water surface of Lake Malawi has a cooling effect, but because of the low elevation, the margins of the lake have long hot seasons and high humidity, with a mean annual temperature of 24°c (75°f). Precipitation is heaviest along the northern coast of Lake Malawi, where the average is more than 163 cm (64 in) per year; about 70% of the country averages about 75100 cm (3040 in) annually.

In general, the seasons may be divided into the cool (May to mid-August); the hot (mid-August to November); the rainy (November to April), with rains continuing longer in the northern and eastern mountains; and the post-rainy (April to May), with temperatures falling in May. Lilongwe, in central Malawi, at an elevation of 1,041 m (3,415 ft), has a moderately warm climate with adequate rainfall. The average daily minimum and maximum temperatures in November, the hottest month, are 17°c (63°f) and 29°c (84°f), respectively; those in July, the coolest month, are 7°c (45°f) and 23°c (73°f).


About 27% of the land area is forested. Grassland, thicket, and scrub are found throughout the country. There are indigenous softwoods in the better-watered areas, with bamboo and cedars on Mt. Sapitwa; evergreen conifers also grow in the highlands. Mopane, baobab, acacia, and mahogany trees are found at lower elevations. There are over 3,700 species of plants found throughout the country.

There are many varieties of animal life. The elephant, giraffe, and buffalo are found in certain areas; hippopotamuses dwell on the shores of Lake Malawi. The kudu, duiker, bushbuck, tsessebe, wildebeest, and hartebeest are among the antelopes to be found. Other mammals in Malawi are the baboon, monkey, hyena, wolf, zebra, lion, nocturnal cat, badger, warthog, and porcupine. In 2000, there were about 195 species of mammals.

There are at least 219 species of birds. Reptiles are plentiful and include freshwater turtle, crocodile, tortoise, marsh terrapin, chameleon, lizard, and many varieties of snakes; the Egyptian cobra has been found in the Shire Valley. Fish abound in the lakes and rivers; species include bream, bass, catfish, mudfish, perch, carp, and trout. The mbuna is a tropical fish protected within the waters of the Lake Malawi National Park. Malawi is rich in insect life and has species in common with tropical West Africa and Tanzania.


Almost all fertile land is already under cultivation, and continued population pressure raises the threat of soil erosion and exhaustion, as well as infringement on forest resources for agricultural purposes. The demand for firewood has significantly depleted the timber stock. Malawi has about 16 cu km of renewable water resources. About of 96% city dwellers and 62% of the rural population have access to pure water.

The preservation of Malawi's wildlife is a significant environmental issue. As of 2003, 11.2% of the country's natural areas were protected, including Lake Malawi National Park, which is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Lake Chilwa, which is a Ramsar wetland site. Some of the nation's fish population is threatened with extinction due to pollution from sewage, industrial waste, and agricultural chemicals and siltation of spawning grounds. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 7 types of mammals, 13 species of birds, 5 species of amphibians, 9 types of mollusks, 2 species of other invertebrates, and 14 species of plants. Threatened species included the African elephant, cheetah, and African wild dog.


The population of Malawi in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 12,341,000, which placed it at number 70 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 46% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 3.2%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 23,750,000.

The overall population density was 104 per sq km (270 per sq mi), which is one of the highest in Africa. The Southern Region has about 50% of the population, the Central Region about 40%, and the Northern Region about 10%.

The UN estimated that 14% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.42%. The capital city, Lilongwe, had a population of 587,000 in that year. Other cities (and their estimated populations) include Blantyre (547,500), Mzuzu (99,700), and Zomba (73,400).

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Malawi. The UN estimated that 16.1% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


Accelerating migration from rural to urban areas contributed to an annual urban growth rate of about 6% in the early 1990s. Between October 1992 and mid-1996, 1.3 million Mozambican refugees repatriated from Malawi; the return of refugees to Mozambique was complete. In 2004 persons of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malawi were 3,682 refugees and 3,335 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. In 2004 over 1,700 Malawians sought asylum in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Remittances in 2003 were $856,000. In 2005 the net migration rate was estimated at zero per 1,000 population, a significant change from -17.1 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


The people of Malawi belong mainly to various Central Bantu groups. The Chewas are primarily located in the central regions of the country. The Nyanja live primarily in the south and the Lomwe (Alomwe) live south of Lake Chilwa. Other indigenous Malawians include the Tumbuko, Tonga, and Ngonde. The Ngoni (an offshoot of the Zulus from South Africa) and Yao arrived in the 19th century. There are a few thousand Europeans, mainly of British origin, including descendants of Scottish missionaries. There are also small numbers of Portuguese, Asians (mainly Indians), and persons of mixed ancestry.


Numerous Bantu languages and dialects are spoken. Chichewa, the language of the Chewa and Nyanja, is spoken by more than half the population, but the Lomwe, Yao, and Tumbuka have their own widely spoken languages, respectively known as Chilomwe, Chiyao, and Chitumbuka. English and Chichewa are the official languages.


As of a 2004 report, it is believed that more than 70% of the population are Christian, with the largest groups being affiliated with the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian (Church of Central Africa PresbyterianCCAP) churches. There are smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, Evangelicals, and Seventh-Day Adventists. Muslims account for approximately 20% of the population, with most belonging to the Sunni sect. Tribal religionists account for a small percentage of the population. There are also small numbers of Hindus and Baha'is. Certain Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated as national holidays.


In 2004, Malawi had 797 km (495 mi) of railways, all of it narrow gauge. The main line of the rail system consisted of a single tracked, 1.067-m/3-ft 6 in (narrow) gauge rail line that ran from Salima to Nsanje, a distance of 439 km (273 mi), and operated by Malawi Railways. The line was extended from Salima to Lilongwe in 1977 and was later extended to Mchinji, on the border with Zambia. At Chipoka, 32 km (20 mi) south of Salima, the railway connects with the Lake Malawi steamer service, also operated by Malawi Railways. The railway line extends, in the south, from Nsanje to the port of Beira in Mozambique. The Central African Railway Co., a subsidiary of Malawi Railways, operates the 26 km (16 mi) span from Nsanje to the Mozambique border. Malawi Railways was privatized in 1999.

In 2002, Malawi had an estimated 14,594 km (9,069 mi) of roads, of which 2,773 km (1,723 mi) were paved. In 2003 there were 11,400 passenger cars, and 14,220 commercial vehicles.

Until 1982, about 95% of Malawi's foreign trade passed through Mozambican ports, mainly by rail connections, but by 1987, because of insurgent activity in Mozambique, over 95% of Malawi's exports were moving through South Africa's port of Durban. The use of this longer route, with only road transport through Malawi, was costing $50 million a year in extra transport expenses. Since 1990, when Mozambican rebels closed down the route, goods have been shipped through Zambia. As of 1999, major Malawi ports and harbors include Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, and Nkhotakota. As of 2003, Malawi had 700 km (435 mi) of navigable waterways on Lake Malawi and on the Shire River.

Airports in 2004 numbered 42, only 6 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Malawi's principal airports include Kamuzu International Airport, at Lilongwe, and Chileka, at Blantyre. Air Malawi, the national airline established in 1967, provides international and domestic air service. National carriers to some other countries in the region operate complementary services to Malawi. There are no direct services to Asia and the Pacific or the Americas. In 2003, about 109,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Malawi has been inhabited for at least 12,000 years; its earliest peoples were nomadic hunter-gatherers. By the 13th century, Bantu-speaking migrants had entered the region. The Chewa peoples had become dominant by the early 16th century; their clans were consolidated under the leadership of a hereditary ruler called the karonga. Before the coming of the Europeans in the second half of the 19th century, Malawi was an important area of operations for Arab slave traders. The incursions of slaving took a heavy toll on the inhabitants, although the Chewa state never came under direct Arab rule. One of the major stated objectives of British intervention in the territory was to stamp out the slave trade.

The first European to explore the area extensively was David Livingstone, whose reports in the 1850s and 1860s were instrumental in the establishment of a series of mission stations in Nyasaland (as Malawi was then known) during the 1870s. In 1878, the African Lakes Company was formed by Scottish businessmen to supply the missions and provide a "legitimate" alternative to the slave trade. As the company extended its operations, it came into conflict with Yao tribesmen and Arab outposts toward the northern end of Lake Malawi. Fighting ensued in 188789, and pacification was completed only some years after the British government had annexed the whole of the territory in 1891. To Sir Harry Johnston, the first commissioner of the protectorate, fell the task of wiping out the remaining autonomous slave-trading groups. These antislavery operations were assisted by gunboats of the Royal Navy.

Nyasaland attracted a small group of European planters in the first decades of the 20th century. This group settled mainly in the Shire Highlands, and its numbers were never large. The territory was viewed by the imperial government as a tropical dependency, rather than as an area fit for widespread white settlement; many of the frictions that marred race relations in the Rhodesias were therefore minimized in Nyasaland. Missionaries and colonial civil servants consistently outnumbered planters in the European community, and lands occupied by European estates accounted for only a small part of the total land area.

Between World Wars I and II, the policy of the imperial government was built around the concept of "indirect rule"that is, increasing the political responsibility of the African peoples by building on the foundations of their indigenous political institutions. Although this policy was not implemented at a rapid pace, it was generally assumed that Nyasaland would ultimately become an independent African-led state. In 1953, however, Nyasaland was joined with the two RhodesiasNorthern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)in the Central African Federation. The Africans' reaction to this political arrangement was hostile. Disturbances sparked by opposition to the federation in 1959 led to the declaration of a state of emergency, and some Africans, including Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, were detained.

The African political leaders imprisoned in Southern Rhodesia were released in April 1960, and they gathered African support for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The MCP increased the campaign against federation rule and in the August 1961 elections polled more than 90% of the vote, winning all of the 20 lower-roll seats and two of eight upper-roll places. An era of "responsible" government then began, with the MCP obtaining five, and eventually seven, of the 10 available Executive Council positions. At a constitutional conference held in London in November 1962, it was agreed that Nyasaland should become fully self-governing early in 1963, and that Banda, who headed the MCP, should become prime minister. On 19 December 1962, the British government announced acceptance "in principle" of the right of Nyasaland to secede from the federation.

In February 1963, as scheduled, Nyasaland became a self-governing republic. In July, at a conference held at Victoria Falls, it was decided that the Central African Federation would break up by the end of the year. In October, Banda visited the United Kingdom and successfully negotiated full independence, effective in mid-1964 after a general election based on universal adult suffrage. Accordingly, on 6 July 1964, Nyasaland became a fully independent Commonwealth country and adopted the name Malawi. On 6 July 1966, Malawi became a republic, and Banda assumed the presidency. After the constitution was amended in November 1970, Banda became president for life.

During the first decade of Banda's presidency, Malawi's relations with its black-ruled neighbors were sometimes stormy. At the opening session of the MCP convention in September 1968, President Banda made a claim to extensive territories outside the present boundaries of Malawi. The claim covered the whole of Lake Malawi and parts of Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia.

The Tanzanian government asserted that President Banda could make territorial claims only because he had the support of South Africa, Rhodesia (which at that time had a white minority government), and Portugal (which then still ruled Mozambique). In fact, in 1967, Malawi had become the first black African country to establish diplomatic relations with white-ruled South Africa; in August 1971, moreover, Banda became the first black African head of state to be officially received in South Africa, which supplied arms and development funds to Malawi.

The Banda government also faced some internal opposition. In October 1967, the Malawi government announced that a group of rebels, numbering about 25, wearing police uniforms and posing as insurgents from Mozambique, had entered Malawi with the intention of killing President Banda and his ministers. Eventually, eight of the rebels were convicted of treason and sentenced to death; five others, including Ledson Chidenge, a member of the National Assembly, were sentenced to death for the murder of a former official of the MCP.

The aging Banda continued to rule Malawi with an iron hand through the 1970s and into the late 1980s. Several thousand people were imprisoned for political offenses at one time or another during his rule. One of these was former Justice Minister Orton Chirwa, leader of an opposition group in exile, who in May 1983 was sentenced to death after having reportedly been abducted from a town across the Zambian border in late 1981. Chirwa's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1984. He died in prison in October 1992. The leader of another dissident group, Attati Mpakati, was assassinated in Harare, Zimbabwe, in March 1983. Three government ministers and a member of parliamenttwo of them key leaders of the MCP, with one of them, party secretary-general Dick Matenje, regarded as a possible successor to Bandadied in the middle of May 1983 in a mysterious car accident. Another staunch critic of the Banda regime, the journalist Mkwapatira Mhango, was killed together with nine members of his family in a bomb attack in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1989.

A serious problem in the 1980s concerned the activities of the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR), which, in its efforts (backed by South Africa) to bring down the government in Maputo, seriously disrupted Malawi's railway links with Mozambique ports. As a result, an increasing share of Malawi's trade had to be routed by road through Zambia and South Africa at great expense. In 1987, Malawi allowed Mozambican troops to patrol areas along their common border and sent several hundred troops into northeast Mozambique to help guard the railway leading to the port of Nacala. Other critical problems for Malawi, particularly during the late 1980s and the early 1990s were the nation's growing debt burden, severe drought, and the nearly one million refugees from Mozambique, most of whom have now returned to Mozambique.

In 1992, Banda's grip began to weaken. In March, Malawi's eight Roman Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting detention without trial and harsh treatment of political prisoners. University students demonstrated. Wildcat strikes and rioting in Blantyre and Lilongwe followed the arrest of opposition trade unionist Chakufwa Chihana in May. Nearly 40 were killed by police gunfire in the first significant antigovernment demonstrations since 1964. Chihana was released on bail in September and he formed a new group, the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), that campaigned for multiparty elections. In December, Chihana was sentenced to two years for sedition.

Pressure mounted (including threats by aid donors abroad to suspend assistance), and in October Banda agreed to hold a referendum early in 1993 on whether Malawi should remain a one-party state. In the referendum, on 14 June 1993, 63% of those voting favored adopting multiparty democracy. Two opposition groups, AFORD and the United Democratic Front (UDF), both led by former MCP officials, held a massive rally in January 1993. Meanwhile, three opposition groups in exile merged to form the United Front for Multiparty Democracy, which then merged with the UDF inside Malawi. Chihana was released two days before the referendum.

In July and November 1993, parliament passed bills eliminating from the constitution single-party clauses (such as Hastings Kamuzu Banda's life presidency), appending a bill of rights, establishing a multiparty electoral law, and repealing detention without trial provisions of the Public Security Act. Dialogue among various major parties resulted in the establishment of a National Consultative Council and a National Executive Committee, with representatives from all registered parties, to oversee changes in the constitution, laws, and election rules and procedures. In December 1993, security forces disarmed Banda's paramilitary MCP Young Pioneers.

On 16 May 1994 the National Assembly adopted a provisional constitution, and the country held its first multiparty elections the following day. Bakili Muluzi of the UDF, a former cabinet minister, defeated Banda (MCP), Chihana (AFORD), and Kamlepo Kalua (Malawi Democratic Party). Of the 177 parliamentary seats contested, the UDF took 84, the MCP took 55, and AFORD 36. Muluzi immediately ordered the release of political prisoners and closed the most notorious jails. The new constitution took effect on 18 May 1995.

Malawi's second multiparty elections were held on 15 June 1999. The balloting showed a distinct regional cast to party constituency. Leading the UDF, Muluzi emerged the winner with 51.4% of votes in the presidential elections, followed by the MCP candidate, Gwanda Chakuamba, with 44.3%. Muluzi's UDF won 94 of 193 parliamentary seats, four short of a simple majority. Chakuamba's MCP took 63 seats, and its electoral ally, the AFORD, won 31; four seats went to independents. The results confirmed the regional voting trend set in 1994, with the UDF winning the densely populated south, the MCP strong in the central region and all of AFORD's seats coming from the rugged north.

Although international observers declared the contest free and fair, opponents alleged that the UDF had rigged the elections, and refused to recognize the outcome. Attempts to seek legal redress were rebuffed, leading to riots and the razing of 10 mosques in the north. At least two people were killed. Muluzi was inaugurated in Blantyre on 21 June 1999.

In July 2002, the National Assembly rejected proposals to amend the constitution to allow Muluzi to run for a third term in 2004. The proposals, resubmitted in February 2003, were quickly withdrawn under protests from opposition groups, civil society, and the diplomatic community. In all, three people were killed in the 2002 protests. Muluzi laid to rest speculation over his political intentions when he announced in April 2003 that the UDF National Executive Committee had endorsed a 68-year-old economist, Bingu wa Mutharika, as its presidential candidate for 2004. Mutharika, who hailed from Thyolo District 40 km (25 mi) southeast of Blantyre, was deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi before being appointed minister in the newly created Department of Economics and Planning.

Severe food shortages in 2002 affected some 3.2 million people. The shortages exacerbated living conditions for more than 65% of the population considered "poor," and for some 15% of the adult population infected with HIV/AIDS. Widows of AIDS victims were increasingly subjected to property grabbing by relatives.

In June 2003, overriding a court order, the government deported five men accused of al-Qaeda connections. Muslim protests in the central district of Kasungu were disbursed by police using rubber bullets and tear gas. In the town of Mangochi in the south, Muslim demonstrators looted seven churches and the offices of Save the Children USA. About 50 Muslims stormed the police station where the detainees were being held, but were repelled by the police. Two of the five men headed local charities, while a third was a teacher at a Muslim school. Muluzi, himself a Muslim, declared that religious intolerance would not be allowed.

The third presidential and legislative elections were held on 20 May 2004. These elections had been scheduled to be held on 18 May, but were postponed for two days because the opposition complained of irregularities in the voters' roll. The opposition argued that the number of voters on the roll was several times larger than the eligible population of voting age in Malawi. The results were announced on 25 May by the Malawi Electoral Commission. Bingu wa Mutharika, the UDF candidate who had been handpicked by outgoing President Muluzi, was declared elected. Mutharika received 35% of the votes, John Tembo of the MCP received 27%, Gwanda Chakuambathe candidate of the Mgwirizano Coalitionreceived 26%, Brown Mpinganjira of the National Democratic Alliance received 8%, and Justin Malewezi of the Peoples' Progressive Movement received 3%. Of the 193 National Assembly seats available, the MCP won 60 seats, the UDF won 49, the Mgwirizano Coalition won 28, and independents won 38. This is in stark contrast to the 1999 elections in which the UDF almost won a majority of the seats.

Surveys conducted by Malawi media groups before the election had put Gwanda Chakuamba, the candidate of the Mgwirizano Coalitiona seven-party opposition coalitionin the lead. Immediately after the announcement of the results riots broke out in the major cities of Malawi, particularly Blantyre, the stronghold of Chakuamba, and a number of people lost their lives, shot by the police. Both Chakuamba and John Tembo of the MCP immediately challenged the results in court and demanded a recount. Following the elections in 2004 the political climate in Malawi remained unstable. As of early 2006, the National Assembly was in the process of impeaching Bingu wa Mutharika, who, in February 2005, left the UDF to form his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

After Banda was forced to liberalize his regime, Mutharika was one of the founders of the United Democratic Front, the party that won Malawi's first multiparty elections in 1994. Mutharika was at that time a supporter of the UDF leader, President Bakili Muluzi, but he soon became a critic of Muluzi's economic policies and left the UDF. He formed the United Party (UP) in 1997 and unsuccessfully opposed Muluzi in the 1999 presidential elections. Mutharika dissolved the UP and rejoined the UDF after being offered the deputy governorship at the Reserve Bank of Malawi. Immediately after being elected president in 2004, Mutharika fell out of favor with his predecessor and supporter, Muluzi, because of Mutharika's zero tolerance policy toward corruption. Once out of the presidency, Muluzi refused to retire as head of UDF and remained its chair. Muluzi's staunch supporters accused Mutharika of persecuting and harassing them through his campaign to end corruption. There was talk of firing Mutharika from the UDF. On 5 February 2005, Mutharika announced his resignation from the UDF and formed his own political party, the DPP. There was also an alleged assassination plot against him by UDF stalwarts in early January 2005. Those accused were later pardoned by Mutharika, but he maintained the existence of the plot.

Mutharika continued to fight for his political survival as opposition parties forged ahead with plans to impeach him. The fight pitted Mutharika against former president of the country and now chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Muluzi, with the UDF proposing an impeachment motion after Mutharika left the party which had sponsored him in the 2004 national elections. Mutharika's formation of his own political organization, DPP, effectively relegated the UDF to an opposition rather than a ruling party. Thus, on paper, the opposition parties formed the largest bloc in parliament while Mutharika's party, the DPP, did not have any seats. Muluzi aggressively sought the cooperation of the other opposition parties (which included John Tembo's MCP and Gwanda Chakuamba's Republican Party) to oust Mutharika through impeachment proceedings. He promised that once Mutharika was removed, a national governing council composed of the leaders of the three major political parties would rule the country. Such a promise contradicts the constitution, which notes that in the event of a vacancy in the presidency, the vice president automatically takes over.

As of mid-2006, Malawi's political crisis had not been resolved, with the former president (Muluzi) facing a corruption probe from the government's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), and his successor (Mutharika) facing impeachment in parliament. The ACB is carrying out what UDF sees as politically motivated investigations into allegations that Muluzi deposited Kwacha 1.4 billion (us$11.4 million) of donor funds into his personal account for his own personal use during his tenure as president. Although Mutharika was seen as having narrowly won the possibly rigged presidential elections in May 2004 under a UDF ticket, once in office he quickly won public support for his anticorruption drive, which also received the backing of donors who had unfrozen aid to the country. In October 2005, there were a number of demonstrations both for and against Mutharika's impeachment. UDF supporters marched in the commercial capital of Blantyre, demanding the immediate impeachment and removal of Mutharika from office. On 24 October 2005, as an impeachment motion was tabled in parliament by UDF, angry DPP supporters and sympathizers marched on parliament to protest against the proposed motion. The demonstrations turned violent with marchers vandalizing cars of opposition MPs.

Observers note that important national issues such as a worsening food crisis and the plight of HIV/AIDS victims were sidelined by the political wrangle. Instead of tackling these issues the government was distracted and the parliament lost focus to assist in tackling these issues. During the last days of the Muluzi presidency, Western donors froze balance of payments support to Malawi over corruption and governance concerns. However, with Mutharika's strong anticorruption stance, aid began to flow back into the country. However, continuing political crisis could again jeopardize foreign development assistance to Malawi.


Malawi officially became a republic on 6 July 1966, and its first constitution was adopted that year. The current constitution took effect on 18 May 1995 reaffirming the president as the head of state and supreme executive authority. In July 2003, he led a 38-member cabinet. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament comprising a National Assembly of 193 seats with members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The most recent elections were held in 2004.


Malawi was officially a one-party state from October 1973 until July 1993. The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) was the national party and Hastings Kamuzu Banda was its president for life. All candidates for the National Assembly had to be members of the MCP.

For years the opposition groups in exile achieved little success in their efforts to unseat the Banda government. The Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA), with headquarters in Harare, was directed by Attati Mpakati until his assassination in March 1983. A second group, the Malawi Freedom Movement (MAFREMO), based in Tanzania, was led by Orton Chirwa, who was seized by Malawi authorities in late 1981 and imprisoned for life until his death in 1992. The Congress for the Second Republic, also based in Tanzania, was led by former External Affairs Minister Kanyama Chiume. The Save Malawi Committee (SAMACO) was formed in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1983.

In September 1992, trade unionist Chakufwa Chihana formed the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) before being convicted of sedition. AFORD and others pushed successfully for a referendum on adopting a multiparty system, and the United Democratic Front (UDF) combined with a coalition in exile (the United Front for Multiparty Democracy) late in 1992.

From the introduction of multiparty competition in May 1994 to the elections in 2004, the UDF and its leader, Bakili Muluzi, dominated the political arena. In the 1994 presidential contest, Muluzi garnered 47.3% of the vote, and his party 84 of the 177 elective seats in the National Assembly. Muluzi obtained 51.4% of the vote in the 1999 presidential poll, and the UDF won 94 of 193 Assembly seats. However, a shake-up in UDF hierarchy in 2003 revealed vulnerabilities in the party's leadership and organization. This led to Muluzi handpicking his successor, Bingu wa Mutharika, who narrowly won 36% of the vote in the controversial May 2004 elections. Furthermore, UDF won only 49 out of the 193 seats in parliament, showing that the dominance the UDF had during Muluzi's tenure had considerably waned. Bingu wa Mutharika then abandoned the UDF and moved on to form his own political party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a move which infuriated Bakili Muluzi who attempted to lure other opposition parties to join him in impeaching Mutharika.

Since the 2003 shake-up in the UDF hierarchy, dissenters from this shake-up have formed their own political parties. The splinter group parties from the UDF include the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) founded by Brown Mpinganjira, who fell out of favor with Bakili Muluzi. At the general elections of May 2004 this party won 8 out of 193 seats. Brown Mpinganjira later de-registered his party and rejoined the UDF. Other former UDF and non-UDF leaders of smaller parties formed a loose electoral alliance called the Mgwirizano Coalition. This coalition includes seven smaller parties: Malawi Democratic Party, Malawi Forum for Unity and Development, Movement for Genuine Democratic Change, National Unity Party, People's Progressive Movement, People's Transformation Party, and Republican Party. Gwanda Chakuamba, founder and leader of the Republican Party, was the presidential candidate for the Mgwirizano Coalition in the May 2004 elections. He won 26% of the vote and the Mgwirizano Coalition won 27 out of 193 seats.

A recent addition to the Malawi political landscape is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which was the ruling political party in Malawi as of mid-2006. It was formed in February 2005 by Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika after a dispute with the United Democratic Front. There were allegations that members of the former governing UDF did not adequately tackle corruption. The many defections from UDF greatly weakened the position of UDF in both the government and the national assembly. A plethora of smaller parties could wield power if they formed effective coalitions, as illustrated by the Mgwirizano Coalition.


In 1996, Malawi was divided into three administrative regionsNorthern, Central, and Southernwhich were subdivided into 24 districts. In 2005 the number of districts was increased to 28 as some large districts were sub-divided into two. District councils provide markets, postal agencies, roads, and rural water supplies and exercise control over business premises and the brewing and sale of beer. More important, however, are the councils' responsibilities for primary education. Some of the councils run public health clinics. Council expenditures are mainly financed from direct government education grants, calculated to meet the salaries of teachers in most of the district schools. Other sources of revenue include annual taxes on all males over the age of 17 years who are residents in the district and charges for services rendered.

Town councils have powers similar to those of the district councils, but with greater emphasis on the problems that arise in urban areas. Their main functions are sewerage, removal of refuse, the abatement of nuisances, construction and maintenance of roads, and, in some cases, the provision of fire-fighting services. Revenue for town councils comes mainly from direct taxes on property.


Since 1969, Malawi has operated under two parallel court systems. The first is based on the United Kingdom legal system with local courts and a local appeals court in each district. Formerly, these courts heard all cases of customary law and had wide statutory, criminal, and civil jurisdiction. The upper layers consist of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the High Court, and magistrates' courts. A chief justice and four puisne judges appointed by the president staff the High Court. There is a chain of appeals from the local courts up to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

A second system was established in November 1969, when the National Assembly empowered the president to authorize traditional African courts to try all types of criminal cases and to impose the death penalty; the president was also permitted to deny the right of appeal to the High Court against sentences passed by the traditional courts, a right formerly guaranteed by the constitution. Traditional court justices are all appointed by the president. Appeals from traditional courts go to the district traditional appeals courts and then to the National Traditional Appeal Court. Appeals from regional traditional courts, which are criminal courts of the first instance, go directly to the National Traditional Appeal Court.

In 1993, the attorney general suspended the operation of regional and national level traditional courts in response to a report by the National Consultative Council on problems in the workings of the traditional court system. Since then the trend is toward moving serious criminal and political cases from traditional to modern courts. Education and training seminars have led to some improvements in the functioning of the local traditional courts.

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, which is respected in practice. Defendants have the right to public trial, to have an attorney, to challenge evidence and witnesses, and to appeal. The constitution superseded many old repressive laws. The High Court may overturn old laws that conflict with the constitution.


In 2005, Malawi had an army of 5,300 personnel, organized into 3 infantry battalions, 1 independent paratroop battalion, 1 Marine company and 1 support battalion. The Army's air wing numbered 200 and the maritime wing had 220 members. There was a paramilitary gendarmerie of 1,500 in the mobile police force. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $12.8 million.


Malawi became a member of the United Nations on 1 December 1964; the nation participates in ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, World Bank, ILO, IFC, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Malawi also belongs to the WTO, the African Development Bank, the ACP Group, the Commonwealth of Nations, COMESA, G-77, the African Union, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The country is a member of the Nonaligned Movement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The government has offered support to UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Liberia (est. 2003), the DROC (est. 1999), and Burundi (est. 2004).

In environmental cooperation, Malawi is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.


Malawi is an agricultural economy which, in recent years, has been troubled by drought and financial instability. It is dependent for most of its income on the export sales of tobacco (60%), and tea and sugar (20%). Other agricultural products include peanuts, coffee, and wood products. As a result of the 1992 drought, GDP declined by 7.9% after averaging 4.5% annual growth in 198991, and an impressive 6.7% annual growth rate during the 1970s. Growth averaged an annual 3.7% from 1988 to 1998. In 2001 GDP grew at -4.9% owing to a devastating drought. It was 1.8% in 2002, 4.4% in 2003, 4.2% in 2004 and 1% in 2005. International aid donors, concerned about human rights abuses in Malawi, have tied future support to human rights reforms. Beginning in 2000, the country was the recipient of $1 billion in debt service relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.

Manufacturing is small-scale, directed mainly to the processing of export crops. In 2000, the agricultural sector employed an estimated 86% of Malawi's population and accounted for about 40% of GDP. Over 90% of the population lives in rural areas. The sector experienced severe droughts in 197981, 1992, 1994, and 200102. Periods of flooding also plague Malawi, as happened in 2003. Production of maize, the main food staple, during the 2001/02 growing season was 1.6 million metric tons, approximately 600,000 short of estimated domestic demand. The World Bank approved a $50-million assistance package for drought recovery in Malawi in November 2002. Other environmental challenges include deforestation and erosion. Recent economic reforms have led to the market pricing in the agricultural sector. The fledgling mining sector in Malawi is slowly growing with the support of international financing.

The government continues to privatize the ownership of public enterprises although the wealth of the country resides in the hands of a small elite. By 2005, about 50% of the more than 90 state-owned enterprises had been sold to private hands, 22% were actively being offered for privatization and an additional 13% had been earmarked for future transfer to the private sector.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Malawi's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $7.6 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $600. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 15.4%. It was estimated that in 2005 agriculture accounted for 35.9% of GDP, industry 14.5%, and services 49.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1 million and accounted for approximately 0.1% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $498 million or about $45 per capita and accounted for approximately 29.8% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Malawi totaled $1.46 billion or about $132 per capita based on a GDP of $1.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.4%. Approximately 50% of household consumption was spent on food, 7% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 6% on education. It was estimated that in 2004 about 55% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


As of 2001, the economically active population was estimated at 4.5 million. According to a 2003 estimate, 90% of the labor force engaged in agriculture. There is very little industry, and no available data on unemployment.

Although sanctioned by law, union membership is quite low due to the small number of workers in the formal sector of the economy. About 15% of the workforce was unionized in 2002. The only labor federation was the Trades Union Congress of Malawi, to which all unions belonged. In theory, unions have the right to organize, bargain collectively, and strike, but in practice labor relations are still in development.

The minimum working age is 14, but many children work due to cultural norms, agricultural predominance, and severe economic hardship. In 2002, the minimum wage was approximately $0.89 per day in urban areas and $0.66 in rural areas. This does not provide an adequate living wage. The legal maximum workweek is 48 hours but this regulation is not generally enforced.


The agricultural sector is drought-prone and experienced severe droughts in 197981, 1992, and 1994. About 77% of the total land area of Malawi is under customary tenurethat is, subject to land allocation by village headmen based on traditional rights of succession by descent. Estate farming occupies about 23% of the cultivated land and provides about 90% of export earnings. In all, about 21% of Malawi's total land area is arable. Malawi is self-sufficient in food production (except during droughts), but the population increased more rapidly than the food supply in the 1980s.

Tobacco was first grown in 1889 near Blantyre in southern Malawi. Today, most production comes from the central region (around Lilongwe). Tobacco production was estimated at a record 160,014 tons in 1996 but fell to 69,500 tons in 2004. Malawi exports more than 95% of the tobacco it produces, which generates some 70% of all foreign earnings. Malawi's tobacco sector is in transition away from a rigid government-controlled system to a more market-oriented system that includes smallholder tobacco growers.

Tea, a major export crop, is produced mostly on estates; about 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) are in tea plantations, mainly in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts. Production in 2004 was 45,000 tons. Sugarcane production was about 2,100,000 tons in 2004. Other cash crops produced in 2004 include peanuts, 61,000 tons, and seed cotton, 40,000 tons.

Although subsistence farmers participate in the production of export crops more extensively now than in the preindependence period, much customary agriculture is still devoted to cereal production. Pressure of population on the land is mounting and, in a few areas, expansion of acreage under export crops has been discouraged in favor of food production. Corn is the staple food crop; about 1,733,000 tons were produced in 2004. Late rains, floods, and an increasing Mozambican refugee population kept corn production from meeting domestic demand during the mid-1990s. Other food crops, with 2004 estimated production figures, include cassava, 2,559,000 tons; potatoes, 1,784,000 tons; beans, 79,000 tons; sorghum, 45,000 tons; plantains, 200,000 tons; bananas, 93,000 tons; and paddy rice, 50,000 tons.


Animal husbandry plays a minor role in the economy. Pressure on the land for cultivation is sufficiently intense in many areas to rule out stock-keeping on any scale. In 2005 there were an estimated 1,900,000 goats, 750,000 head of cattle, 456,000 hogs, and 115,000 sheep. The number of poultry was estimated at 15.2 million in 2005. Meat production totaled 59,000 tons in 2004, including 21,000 tons of pork and 16,000 tons of beef. Milk production was estimated at 35,000 tons.


The growing commercial fishing industry is concentrated mainly in Lake Malawi, with small-scale activity in Lake Malombe, Lake Chilwa, and the Shire River. Fish farming is carried on in the south. The total catch in 2003 was estimated at 54,200 tons. Large employers of labor in the Southern Region are the major buyers, and much of the catch is sold directly to them. Fish from Lake Malawi contribute about 70% of animal protein consumption.


Forests and woodlands cover an estimated 2.6 million hectares (6.3 million acres), or 27% of the land area. Natural forests are extensive, and in the high-altitude regions, the Forestry Department is engaged in a softwood afforestation program. However, Malawi's annual rate of deforestation was 2.4% during 19902000. Sizable plantations of pine, cypress, and cedar have been established. Roundwood removals in 2004 were estimated at 5,621,000 cu m (198,400,000 cu ft), of which 91% went for fuel.


Quarrying for limestone and other building materials was the major mining activity in Malawi, but gemstones, including agate, amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, rhodolite, rubies, and sapphires, have also been produced, on a small scale. In 2004, a total of 21,224 metric tons of limestone (for cement) was produced. A total of 1,820 kg of gemstones were extracted in 2004, down from 2,297 kg in 2003. Also produced in 2004 were dolomite, lime, and crushed stone for aggregate, as well as possibly clays, sand and gravel, and other stone. The country had known deposits of apatite, asbestos, bauxite, columbium (niobium), corundum, dimension stone (including blue and black granite), galena, gold, granite, graphite, ilmenite, kaolin, kyanite, mica, monazite, phosphate rock, pyrite, rutile, tourmaline, uranium, and vermiculite, which have occasionally been exploited. Prospecting for other minerals has been undertaken, but no resources of commercial significance have been discovered, except for coal, bauxite (28.8 million tons), kaolin (14.1 million tons), silica sand (25 million tons), and monazite and strontianite (11 million tons in Kangankunde Hill). Mining and quarrying accounted for 1% of GDP in 2004. The mining sector in 2003, grew by 23.5%. No minerals were among the leading export commodities. The outlook for Malawi's mineral industry was tied to the country's ability to spur exports, improve educational and health facilities, solve environmental problems of deforestation and erosion, and deal with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS.


Malawi, as of 1 January 2005 had no known petroleum, or natural gas reserves. Nor does it have any oil refining capacity. However, the country does have small recoverable reserves of coal.

In 2004, demand for petroleum products averaged 6,000 barrels per day, all of which was imported. There was no recorded demand or imports of natural gas in that year. Low-grade bituminous coal reserves were known about for many years, but mining did not begin until the last decades of the 20th century. Malawi has recoverable coal reserves of about 2 million short tons, reported as of July 2005. In 2003, coal consumption came to 0.02 million short tons.

Both the consumption and the production of electric power are small, even by African standards. Installed capacity, as of 1 January 2003 totaled 308,000 kW, the bulk of which is hydroelectric. In 2002, hydropower accounted for a little more than 93% of capacity, with conventional thermal plants accounting for the rest. In 2003, electric power output totaled 1.30 billion kWh, with demand that year at 1.21 billion kWh.


After a decade of rapid expansion11% average growth per year in the 1970sthe pace of manufacturing growth slowed to 3.6% during 198090, and during 19902000, to 1.7%. In 2004, industry accounted for 19% of GDP.

Although Malawi's manufacturing sector is small, it is diverse. The processing of tea, tobacco, sugar, coffee, cement, and cotton accounts for most of its output. Factories manufacture soap, detergents, cigarettes, furniture, cookies, bread, blankets and rugs, clothing, and mineral waters. Other installations include a gin distillery, a cotton mill, and two textile plants. Brick making is well established. Roofing tiles are also produced, and radios are assembled. Other products made in Malawi include agricultural implements, bicycle frames, polishes, edible oils and fats, cattle foodstuffs, flour, matches, fishing nets, rope, twine and yarns, toiletries, and footwear. Two plants in Malawi retread tires, and its industries make a wide range of metal products.


Research stations for tea, tobacco, and other aspects of agriculture conduct their activities under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources maintains forestry and fisheries research units. The University of Malawi includes Bunda College of Agriculture and Kamuzu College of Nursing, both at Lilongwe; Malawi Polytechnic and the College of Medicine at Blantyre; and Chancellor College at Zomba, which has a faculty of science. The Geological Survey of Malawi, founded in 1921, is headquartered in Zomba. The Medical Association of Malawi, founded in 1967, is headquartered in Blantyre.

In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 27% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, high technology exports were valued at $1 million, 3% of the country's manufactured exports.


Domestic trade is concentrated in the larger towns, since transportation of goods to most rural areas is difficult and most rural residents have extremely low incomes. Agriculture is the basis of the economy, with about 90% of the population employed in subsistence farming. Local markets and stands for produce and baked goods prevail.

A small manufacturing sector is located near Blantyre, which is the country's major commercial center. There are a few larger supermarkets and grocery stores in Lilongwe, but with limited inventories. Karonga and Nsanje are the main trading ports. Zomba is a regional commercial center for agriculture. Licenses are required for all persons engaged in trading; fees vary with the nature

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 457.0 723.5 -266.5
South Africa 58.6 291.1 -232.5
United States 58.2 24.1 34.1
Kenya 37.5 9.2 28.3
United Kingdom 36.7 39.0 -2.3
Germany 33.3 10.4 22.9
Netherlands 31.5 4.1 27.4
Japan 26.5 30.2 -3.7
Egypt 17.9 17.9
France-Monaco 15.1 4.2 10.9
Belgium 13.6 8.9 4.7
() data not available or not significant.

of the business. In 2005 inflation was about 15.4% a decline from a high of 22.7%. Per capita GDP was at about $600 in 2004.

Business hours are 7:30 or 8 am to noon and 1 or 1:30 pm to 4:30 or 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and 7:30 or 8 am to noon or 12:30 pm on Saturday. Banks are open weekdays from 8 to 12:30 pm (to 11:30 am on Wednesday and 10:30 am on Saturday).


Malawi mostly exports tobacco (66%). Other commodity exports include tea (7.6%), sugar (6.0%), coffee (4.0%), and woven cotton fabrics (2.5%). Tea is sold primarily to the United Kingdom while sugar exports go to the EU and the United States.


Malawi runs an annual deficit on current accounts, which is generally mitigated but not annulled by capital inflows, mostly in the form of development loans.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that in 2005 the purchasing power parity of Malawi's exports was $364.1 million while imports totaled $645 million resulting in a trade deficit of $280.9 million.


The Reserve Bank of Malawi was established in Blantyre in 1964. It took over, by stages, the functions in Malawi of the former Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland until that bank wound up its affairs in June 1965. The main duties of the Reserve Bank are to maintain currency stability and to act as banker to the government and to the commercial banks. The Reserve Bank administers exchange control and acts as registrar for local registered stock. The Reserve Bank also handles the issue of treasury bills on behalf of the government.

Malawi's financial services are unsophisticated and basic. Aside from the central bank, there are five licensed commercial banks, which are dominated by the two government-owned banks, the National Bank of Malawi and the Commercial Bank of Malawi. In 1999, the NBM was 48% owned by Press Corporation Limited (PCL), and 39% by ADMARC; CBM was 23% owned by PCL, 22% by the Malawi government in direct shareholding, and 17% by the Malawi Development Corporation. The Malawi government owns MDC, ADMARC, and is PCL's largest shareholder (49%). As of 31 March 1999, total assets of the five banks reached about $300 million. The other three commercial banks are the First Merchant Bank Limited, the Finance Bank of Malawi, and Indefinance.

The Investment and Development Bank of Malawi (Indebank), formed in 1972 with foreign and local participation, provides medium- and long-term credit. Although the country's financial market has been liberalized, the sole mortgage finance institution, the New Building Society (NBS), which came into operation at independence in March 1964, faces no competition. The New Building Society's assets stood at $244.5 million in 1995.

A subsidiary of Indebank, the Investment and Development Fund (Indefund), finances small and medium-sized enterprises. The Malawi Development Corporation (MDC), which services the needs of large-scale industry, is state-owned. The Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) was restructured in 1994 and licensed as a commercial bank, the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB). Other major financial institutions include Loita Investment Bank, the Leasing and Financing Co. of Malawi (LFC), the Malawi Rural Finance Company (MRFC), and the Finance Corporation of Malawi (FINCOM).

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $136.1 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $268.3 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 46.8%.

The Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) was established in December 1994 along with Stockbrokers Malawi to deal with listed company shares and to act as a broker in government and other securities

Current Account -200.7
     Balance on goods -150.8
         Imports -573.2
         Exports 422.4
     Balance on services -172.5
     Balance on income -38.5
     >Current transfers 161.1
Capital Account
Financial Account 134.0
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Malawi 5.9
     Portfolio investment assets
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets
     Other investment liabilities 128.1
Net Errors and Omissions 156.7
Reserves and Related Items -90.0
() data not available or not significant.

approved by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM). The stock exchange had no listings until November 1996, when shares in NICO were put up for sale. Since November 1994, the RBM has marketed Treasury bills of varying maturities (30, 61, 91, and 182 days) in an attempt to encourage greater participation by the private sector.


Most insurance firms operating in Malawi are owned or sponsored by parent companies in the United Kingdom. However, the leading company, the National Insurance Co. (NICO), is owned by Malawi interests. There were seven insurance companies in operation in 1997. Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory.


Government revenues derive from import duties, income taxes on companies and individuals, income from government enterprises, excise duties, licenses, and value-added taxes. The fiscal year runs from 1 April to 31 March. Government consumption, which had an average annual growth rate of 7.0% during the 1980s, declined by 4.0% annually during the 1990s, and by 9.5% in 1998. Education, health, and agriculture were the three biggest items on the budget for 2000.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Malawi's central government took in revenues of approximately $844.6 million and had expenditures of $913.9 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$69.3 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 208.6% of GDP. Total external debt was $3.284 billion.


Individuals pay taxes on all income from Malawi, whether they are residents or nonresidents. Most operating businesses are required to prepay estimated tax on a quarterly basis. The corporate income tax in 2005 was 30%. Branches of foreign companies were taxed at 35%, but reduced rates applied to insurance businesses (21%), and to ecclesiastical, charitable or educational institutions or trusts (25%). Companies operating in export processing zones (EPZs) are exempt from corporate tax, and companies operating in priority areas can qualify for a ten-year exemption, followed by a reduced 15% tax rate, when the exemption expires. Other tax allowances are offeredfor mining companies, for manufacturers, for exports, for training, among othersas investment incentives. Royalties, rents, fees and commissions are subject to a 20% withholding tax. Interest from banks is also subject to a 20% withholding rate if the interest is over 10,000 kwacha.

The income of individuals and partnerships is taxed according to a graduated scale with rates from 030%. For 2004, the government introduced a new top rate of 40%, and raised the threshold for taxable income from 30,000 kwacha to 36,000 kwacha (about $340 to $410). Municipal taxes are based on property valuations.

Malawi's main indirect tax is a 17.5% value-added tax (VAT) which applies to goods and selected services, including luxury goods and electronics, as well as imports.


Trade licenses are required for the import and export of certain goods, including military uniforms, wild animals, some food, and military equipment. Malawi is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), granting trade preferences to member states. The country also has bilateral trade agreements with Zimbabwe and South Africa, granting the duty-free exchange of goods.

In 1998, the government eliminated export taxes on tobacco, sugar, tea, and coffee. Machinery, basic foodstuffs, and raw materials are admitted with a 105% tax. In July 1999, the maximum tariff rate was reduced from 30% of value to 25%. Tariffs on intermediate goods and raw materials were reduced from 10% to 5% and from 5% to 0%, respectively.

Luxury goods are assessed at higher rates than ordinary consumer items. Excise duties are levied for revenue purposes on spirits, beer, cigarettes and tobacco, petroleum products, and certain other items.


The government actively encourages foreign investment, particularly in agriculture and in import-substitution and labor-intensive industries. Incentives such as exclusive licensing rights, tariff protection, and liberal depreciation allowances are offered. These incentives also include a tax allowance of 40% for new buildings and machinery, 20% for used buildings and machinery, and a 100% deduction for a manufacturing company's operating expenses for the first two years. Other incentives are: no import duty on heavy goods vehicles, raw materials for manufacturing, a maximum import tariff rate of 25%, no withholding tax on dividends, and tax holidays. Exporters do not have to pay the normal taxes or import duties. Repatriation of dividends and profits are freely permitted.

Encouraged by the formation of the Malawi Development Corp. and the implementation of a development plan, foreign investment increased in the mid-1960s. A sugar scheme on the lower Shire River was financed to a great extent by foreign investment, as were a distillery and a brewery. In 1987, Lever Brothers, Portland Cement, and David Whitehead and Sons had industrial plants in Malawi. The large plantation enterprises were originally established with capital largely from the United Kingdom. Exploration for oil under Lake Malawi began in 1999 but has not yielded any positive results so far.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Malawi was $22 million in 1997, but rose to $70 million in 1998. Annual FDI inflow averaged between $45 million and $60 million for the period 1999 to 2001.


During the first decades of independence, agricultural development was emphasized. The government sought to implement this policy by providing the family farmer with basic agricultural support facilities, such as extension services, training, irrigation, and research, and by increasing the output of fertile areas through farm credit, marketing, and processing facilities. During this period, four major agricultural developments were sponsored: the Shire Valley Agricultural Development Project in the south; the Lilongwe Land Development Program and the Central Region Lakeshore Development Project, both in the Central Region; and the Karonga Rural Development Project in the north.

More recently, improvements in the transportation infrastructure, especially in roads, have been emphasized. In the manufacturing sector, the government has stressed diversification. With major constraints on its foreign exchange, Malawi aims to reduce the trade gap, encourage exports, and reduce government expenditures.

The United Kingdom has traditionally been Malawi's principal aid donor. South Africa has been a significant source of aid as well, especially in financing construction in the capital at Lilongwe and the railway extension from Lilongwe to Mchinji. Other significant aid donors have included the European Union, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, the United States, Denmark, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank/IDA. In 1998, Malawi started a six-month International Monetary Fund (IMF) macroeconomic program aimed at reigning in the almost 60% inflation rate, with little success as of 1999.

In 2000, Malawi was approved for $1 billion in debt service relief under the IMF/World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, to support poverty reduction efforts through expenditures on health, education, and rural development, among other areas. Also in 2000, Malawi negotiated a three-year $58 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the IMF, which was to expire in December 2003. In September 2002, the IMF approved $23 million in emergency relief to support large imports of food due to shortages that year, and to fight malnutrition and starvation, particularly among those affected with HIV/AIDS. Recent government initiatives have targeted improvements in roads, and with participation from the private sector, improvements in railroads and telecommunications.

A new three-year PRGF was signed with the IMF, worth $56 million, which commenced in July 2005. The main aim of the new PRGF is to restore fiscal discipline, with the priority on reducing domestic debt. The signing of the new PRGF increased the probability that Malawi will reach completion point around mid-2006 under the IMF-World Bank heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative. Once this completion point is reached a reduction in debt stock will be awarded by the IMF-World Bank. However, as the Economist Intelligence Unit states, various criteria need to be achieved before this can occur. First, the government needs to have its first two PRGF reviews concluded successfully by the end of January 2006. Second, it needs to have achieved one year of successful implementation of the poverty reduction program, which could be met by the end of 2005. Third, it must complete 11 specific completion point triggers, which would take a minimum of one year. However, the most important thing is that donors have resumed financial assistance to Malawi following the recent IMF deal, with the UK Department of International Development the first to resume funding of £20 million ($37 million) for budgetary support.


Pensions systems exists for public employees only. Government hospitals and clinics provides some medical services free to residents. Employers are required to obtain private worker's injury insurance. Worker's compensation is provided for disability and survivor benefits.

The constitution specifies equal rights for women and minorities, but women face widespread discrimination in the home and in employment opportunities. Spousal abuse is common, and the authorities rarely intervene. Inheritance practices often leave widows without their share of the family's assets. Women are much more likely to be illiterate than their male counterparts. In 2004 the government addressed women's concerns, focusing on gender balance in political representation.

Some human rights abuses continued to occur under the democratic government. The use of excessive force and the mistreatment of prisoners is reported. Human rights organizations are free to operate openly and without restrictions.


Health services, which rank among the poorest in Africa, are under the jurisdiction and supervision of the Ministry of Health and are provided to Africans free of charge. Approximately 80% of the population had access to health care services. As of 2004, it was estimated that there were fewer than two physicians 100,000 people. In 2000, 57% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 77% had adequate sanitation. Access to safe water and sanitation at times has been severely impeded by war.

The major health threats are malnutrition, malaria, tuberculosis, measles, dysentery, and bilharzia. Hookworm and schistosomiasis are widespread. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 14.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 900,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 84,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003. Malawi has taken an aggressive approach to AIDS prevention and allocates a substantial portion of its health budget on treatment.

As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 37.13 and 23.2 per 1,000 people. About 31% of married women were using contraceptives as of 2000. The infant mortality rate in 2005 was 96.14 per 1,000 live births. The major cause of infant death in Malawi is diarrheal disease. The maternal mortality rate was 580 per 100,000 live births. An estimated 48% of children under five years old were considered malnourished. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 100%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 95%; polio, 94%; and measles, 87%. Life expectancy was 41.43 years in 2005.


About 90% of the population live in rural areas. The traditional dwelling, used by anywhere from 4565% of the total population, is a single-family home made of mud brick walls and a thatched roof. There are some more permanent structures, which are made with concrete, stone, or burnt brick walls and iron sheet, concrete, or asbestos roofs. Most dwellings have two or three rooms and the average household size is about 4.3 people. In 1998, at least 86% of dwellings were owner occupied. Only about 2.5% of residences had access to indoor piped water. Most drinking water was taken from boreholes, unprotected wells, and/or rivers and streams. About 74% of the population (both urban and rural) used pit latrines. About 22% had no toilets at all. Only 4.9% of the population had access to electricity. Wood is typically used for cooking fuel and paraffin is used for lighting.

Government-built houses are either rented or sold. The Malawi Housing Corp. has also developed housing plots in order to relocate urban squatters.


Control of education, including mission schools, is in the hands of the Ministry of Education. Attendance is compulsory for eight years at the primary level. Secondary education lasts for four years. The academic year runs from September to July.

As of 1999, 69% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school. Most children in remote rural areas do not attend school. In 2003, secondary school enrollment was about 29% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 71% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 70:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 46:1.

The University of Malawi, inaugurated at Zomba on 6 October 1965, has four constituent colleges at Zomba, Lilongwe, and Blantyre. A new medical school was established in Blantyre. In 2003, less than 1% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 64.1%, with 74.9% for men and 54% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6% of GDP, or 24.6% of total government expenditures.


The Malawi National Library Service, founded in 1968, has more than 804,000 volumes and maintains a nationwide interloan system with headquarters in Lilongwe, regional branches in Blantyre, Mulanje, Luchenza, Mzuzu and Karonga, and a number of smaller rural libraries and library centers. The largest library is that of the University of Malawi (375,000 volumes). The US Information Agency maintains a small library in Lilongwe, and the British Council has libraries in Blantyre and in the capital. The National Archives are in Zomba and contain 40,000 volumes.

The Museum of Malawi (1959), in Blantyre, has a collection displaying the nation's archaeology, history, and ethnography. The Cultural & Museum Center Karonga serves as a museum of natural history, including dinosaur fossils and other prehistoric remains. Other museums include the Lake Malawi Museum in Mangochi and a regional museum in Mzuzu. There is also a postal museum in Namaka housed in a traditional postal carrier's rest hut.


In 2003, there were an estimated eight mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 17,400 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 13 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio broadcasting services were provided in English and Chichewa by the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corp. over two stations in 2004. The same year, there were 14 private FM stations with limited coverage, including 6 religious stations. State-owned Television Malawi was he only national television broadcaster. In 2003, there were an estimated 499 radios and 4 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 1.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 3 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There was one secure Internet server in the country in 2004.

The Daily Times, published in English in Blantyre, appears Monday through Friday and had a circulation of 22,000 in 2002. The other major daily publications were Computer Monitor, Michiru Sun, The Enquirer, and U.D.F. News (United Democratic Front). The Malawi News, a weekly, had a circulation of 30,000. Other weeklies include The Independent, The Nation, and The New Express.

Though previously strictly controlled by the government, the media enjoy new constitutional provisions suspending censorship powers. The government is said to respect these new provisions.


The Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry has its headquarters at Blantyre. A branch of the British Medical Association has been organized in Zomba. In the larger towns, musical societies and theater clubs have been established.

The League of Malawi Women and the League of Malawi Youth are active. Other national youth organizations include the Catholic Students Community of Malawi, Malawi Young Pioneers, Student Alliance for Rural Development, and the Student Christian Organization of Malawi. A variety of sports associations are also active.

Service clubs include the Rotary, Lions Clubs, and the British Empire Service League. Some social welfare and economic development groups have organized under the umbrella of the Council for Nongovernmental Organizations in Malawi, established in 1985. International organizations with active chapters include the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and the Red Cross.


Tourist facilities are improving with the development of Malawi. The major cities and resorts are not as limited as the smaller, rural areas. The main tourist attraction in Malawi is Lake Malawi; the visitor is well served there by hotels and recreational facilities. There are also eight-day excursions around the lake available. Game parks, Mt. Mulanje, and Mt. Zomba also attract the tourist trade.

In 2003, there were 420,911 tourists who arrived in Malawi, almost 21% of whom came from Mozambique. Tourist receipts totaled $43 million that year. Hotel rooms numbered 59,396 with 63,585 beds and an occupancy rate of 27% in 2002. The average length of stay was eight nights. A passport, proof of sufficient funds, and onward/return ticket are required for entry into Malawi. Upon entry, a 30-day visa is issued. Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers from infected areas.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Mangochi at $224; in Lilongwe, $180; and in Blantyre, $167.


The dominant historic political figure is Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (19061997). After a long period of medical practice in England, and a brief one in Ghana, he returned to Nyasaland in 1958 to lead the Malawi Congress Party. Following the declaration of a state of emergency, Banda was detained from March 1959 to April 1960. He became Malawi's first prime minister in 1963, and in 1966 he became Malawi's first president; he was named president for life in 1971 and ruled without interruption until ousted in a 1994 election mandated by constitutional reform. Bakili Muluzi (b.1943) was president from 19942004. Bingu wa Mutharika (b.1934) won a disputed election to become president in 2004.


Malawi has no territories or colonies.


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Democracy and Political Change in Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Else, David. Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Oakland, Calif.: Lonely Planet, 1997.

Harmon, Daniel E. Southeast Africa: 1880 to the Present: Reclaiming a Region of Natural Wealth. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.

Kalinga, Owen J. M. and Cynthia A. Crosby. Historical Dictionary of Malawi. 3rd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Spring, Anita. Agricultural Development and Gender Issues in Malawi. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, Inc., 1995.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Malawi
Region: Africa
Population: 10,385,849
Language(s): English, Chichewa
Literacy Rate: 58%
Number of Primary Schools: 3,706
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.4%
Libraries: 7
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,887,107
  Secondary: 141,911
  Higher: 5,561
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 134%
  Secondary: 8%
  Higher: 1%
Teachers: Primary: 49,138
  Secondary: 3,172
  Higher: 531
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 59:1
  Secondary: 22:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 127%
  Secondary: 12%
  Higher: 0.4%

History & Background

Malawi is a landlocked nation that shares its borders with Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. About the size of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania or 118,484 square miles in area, Malawi straddles Africa's third largest inland lake, Lake Malawi. Large plateaus, about 4,100 feet high, and mountains, roughly 8,200 feet in height, dominate much of the landscape.

In 2001, Malawi's population was 10,386,000 people. This population has doubled since 1977 when it was 5,547,460. Most of these individuals lived in the south and central regions, which foster more economic activity and jobs, since these regions are blessed with fertile land and adequate rain. The dominant Chewa tribe lives in central Malawi and the next largest tribe, the Nyanja, lives in the fertile south of Malawi, where commercial farming is big business. An estimated 3,500,000 Malawians make up the active workforce. The annual population growth rate has slowed to 1.61 percent due to a combination of AIDS, malaria, and premature death due to malnutrition. A high incidence of disease is attributable to diets low in nutrition, insufficient medical care, and low levels of sanitation, except in large cities. Many Malawi citizens rely on traditional herbs and healers for cures to ailments. Life expectancy at birth is only 37 years. The infant mortality rate is 122 per 1,000, and there is 1 doctor for every 47,634 Malawians.

Malawi's population is overwhelmingly rural, as 86 percent of Malawians live in rural areas. In rural areas, rights and duties are defined by tradition. Conformity and cohesion are emphasized, and honor grows with age. Money and a cash economy are however changing rural communities. Population pressure on land also forces change, and long periods of absence by men who work in distant cities are making rural cultures change as women, children, and the elderly cope with their absence. Despite these changes, family, kinship, territory, and tribe are the glue that bind rural society together. About 14 percent of Malawians live in cities. Lilongwe replaced Zomba as the nation's capital in 1974 and has a population of 395,000 people. Blantyre, Livingstonia, Mzuzu, and Chiromo are also important urban centers.

Approximately 90 percent of Malawians belong to the Chewa ethnic group. The remaining 10 percent belong to the Nyanja, Lomwe, Yao, Nguni, Tumbuka, Sena, Tonga, Ngonde, and other ethnic groups. Europeans, Asians, and other racial groups compose less than 1 percent of the population but exercise considerable economic influence. More than 50 percent of Malawians speak Chinyanja, which former president Banda renamed Chichewa when he made it the national language. Many Malawi Africans speak Chichewa at home, and more than 80 percent understand it. Both Chichewa and English are considered national languages. An estimated 55 percent of the population is Protestant, 20 percent Roman Catholic, 15 percent follow Islam, and the remaining 5 percent practice indigenous religions.

The per capita income is $940 dollars per year. Malawi's economy is growing at 4.2 percent per year, which is down from 6.0 percent in 2000. Inflation is at 4.05 percent, but this is down from 83.3 percent in 1998. Malawi's natural resources include limestone, uranium, coal, and bauxite. Its major agricultural products are tobacco, tea, sugarcane, cotton, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses, livestock, and tea. The industrial sector processes tobacco into cigarettes, sugar refineries, sawmills, cement factories, and consumer goods. It has 17,600 miles of roads, which helps it take its produce to market for sale, 498 miles of railroads, 44 airports, and 55,000 cars and trucks. Individuals 18 and over are eligible to vote. The government is a multi-party democracy, and the major political parties are the United Democratic Front, the Malawi Congress Party, the Alliance for Democracy, and others. The adult literacy rate is 58 percent, and education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14. Malawi has 1 Internet service provider and 37,400 telephones.

Historical & Political Background: The name "Malawi" is derived from the word "Maravi," who were a Bantu speaking people who migrated to Lake Malawi in the fourteenth century and developed a large confederation. Oral tradition states that these people were the ancestors of today's Chewa and Nyanja people who constitute Malawi's majority today. Portuguese explorers and adventurers were the first Europeans to visit this area but they never colonized it. The Portuguese confined their colonizing activities to coastal regions of Mozambique and traded with Africans from Malawi. The Scottish explorer and missionary zealot, Dr. David Livingstone arrived in Malawi in 1859 while searching for the source of the Nile River. He did not find the origin of the Nile in Malawi but he did find fertile ground for converts to Christianity. Many Christian missionaries followed him to "conquer Malawi for Christ," as they said. Ngoni tribes from South Africa had migrated to Malawi and were devastating Malawi during Livingstone's first visit. They engaged in chronic warfare as they attempted to dominate local Malawi Africans. In this environment the slave trade flourished. Fighting was constant, local African tribes were ravaged and subjugated, and Livingstone asked the British to intervene to put an end to slavery. Great Britain established a protectorate and called the area Nyasaland in 1891. They outlawed slavery and ended the chronic fighting by establishing a Pax Britannia. The region's tropical climate, the absence of mineral wealth, and limited economic opportunities for Europeans meant that very few whites settled in Malawi. Its record of development thus differed remarkably from those of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, which had mineral wealth, fertile land, and few diseases that debilitated Europeans. Those areas by contrast attracted large white settler populations, huge investments, and rapid modernization.

The first sign that colonial rule was in trouble in Malawi occurred in 1915. The reverend John Chilembwe and his followers rose up against European settlers, but they were quickly suppressed by European military technology. Civil unrest did not die rather it went underground. It emerged again in 1944 in the guise of the Nyasaland African Congress. This was Malawi's first nationalist movement. Agitation for independence culminated in independence in 1964, under the leadership of Ngwazi ("Great Lion and provider"), Dr. Hastings Banda. The former Federation of British Rhodesia and Nyasaland dissolved. By July 6, 1966, the sovereign democratic Republic of Malawi emerged. Despite loud objections from other African leaders, Banda opened diplomatic and trade relations with the apartheid regime then ruling South Africa in 1967. Many Africans considered Banda a sellout. Some even went as far as to call him a traitor. Banda also Africanized the civil service and jobs in private industry but at such a slow pace that it infuriated many Africans and pleased the European and Asian communities who benefited from the slow pace of change. By 1971, Banda became the first African head of state to visit apartheid South Africa and recognize their legitimacy. However, Malawi later joined the Southern African Development Co-ordinating Conference (SADCC) which sought to reduce the dependence of countries throughout southern Africa on South Africa. By 1971, after declaring himself "president for life," and it had become clear that he was a ruthless dictator. He frequently purged his cabinet and ruled through the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which he controlled with an iron fist. His secret police were universally feared, and his Malawi Young Pioneers eliminated potential rivals. In 1976, he recognized the communist-backed Angolan government in preference to the South African-backed conservative forces of Jonas Savimbi. Malawi never recognized South Africa's Bantustans or Homelands as independent states, despite Malawi's cordial relations with the apartheid regime.

The suppression of opposition created a sense of stability. Until 1979, Malawi's economy grew annually at 6 percent or better, but this wealth went to a small elite who blindly supported Banda. Most of the wealth came from large agricultural estates, which were controlled by white settlers in the past but were currently owned by elite Africans or the state. Industries that process agricultural products thrived in Malawi. However, 85 percent of Malawians farmed 5 acres of land or less. Rural over-crowding led to soil erosion and depletion. Land shortage, soil depletion, low prices paid to farmers for their produce, and a lack of agricultural inputs, such as loans, fertilizers, and insecticides, led to widespread unrest by 1992. Migration to South Africa, mostly by the Tumbuka tribes who were forced to leave their northern land to make money due to farming problems, helped Malawi overcome high unemployment and limited wage employment internally. The country became dependent, however, on remitted wage income that financed imports and contributed cash to rural households with few sources of income.

Forced into exile, most opponents of the government lived abroad until 1992 when Roman Catholic bishops openly criticized the government for human rights abuses and encouraged 60 exiles in Zambia's capital to stage a protest. Detention without trial, torture, and assassination suppressed internal dissent. Union unrest, rioting, and agitation by Chakufwa Chihana for multi-party elections led to reform. The United Nations monitored a referendum on the introduction of multi-party rule on June 14, 1993, which UN representatives monitored. The 63.5 percent of the people of Malawi voted to end one-party rule, despite massive efforts to intimidate them by the MCP.

Opposition to Banda's dictatorial rule led to the first official multi-party election on May 17, 1994. Bakili Muluzi was elected president, ending Banda's 30-year dictatorial rule of Malawi. In 1997, Banda and key associates were put on trial for political murders, but were acquitted. Banda died in 1997 and was given an official state funeral with full military honors. Bakili Muluzi's United Democratic Front (UDF) party has ruled Malawi from 1994 to the present. President Muluzi and his vice-president, Justin Malewezi, aimed to alleviate poverty and ensure food security, as well as to combat corruption and mismanagement of resources. Three prisons, notorious for human rights abuses, were closed. Political prisoners were granted amnesty and all death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The unequal distribution of land and labor migration remain major challenges for Malawi, as does violence in Mozambique, which spills over into Malawi periodically. As Mozambique repairs its war-damaged communications, industries, roads, railroads, bridges, ports, and airports, Malawi's export economy improves. Many of the 600,000 Mozambican refugees who have lived in Malawi for decades are returning to Mozambique. This too helps Malawi's economy to perform better. Mozambique has reopened its ports of Beira and Nacala, which facilitates Malawi's export strategy. Malawi pays small farmers better prices for their crops as an incentive to increase production. Unfortunately this policy has failed to halt or reverse the decline in rural standards of living due to land shortages and declining production exacerbated by overcrowding.

Educational Background: Traditional African cultures emphasized careful observation, imitation, and memorization of lessons passed down from one generation to the next through a system of age-graded education and socialization. Western-styled schools were established in Malawi by Christian missionaries. While traditional culture competed for the attention of African youth, Islam has never penetrated Malawi and thus did not compete with Christianity. This made westernizing Malawi's African population much easier. At first missionary schools focused on basic reading, writing, and counting. The aim was to help Africans learn to read the Bible in order to reinforce Christian beliefs and values. The British government was happy to allow missionaries to dominate education because it was cost effective. In a poor colony that was not producing much income for Britain, costs were major concerns. Malawi's British colonial administrators merely supervised Christian missionary schools from 1920 onward. Not long after African Christians became westernized, a few opened their own schools from 1930 onward. In both cases money for the salaries of teachers and administrators were generated from school fees and voluntary donations given locally and from abroad. Government financing for schools began in 1963, when Malawi's outgoing colonial government financed 22 primary schools.

The Anglican church of England set up schools on the eastern shore of Lake Malawi (then known as Lake Nyasa) in 1880. Many primary schools were established, along with training institutes for nurses, hospital attendants, and midwives. Roman Catholics created missions from 1889 on, when the White Fathers first established missions. The Catholic Church discovered that schools attracted many new converts. Thus, Catholics built many schools in Malawi and won many converts in turn. By 1970, Catholics ran more than 1,000 schools, 6 teacher training colleges, several hospitals, and 2 leprosy clinics.

The American based Phelps-Stokes Fund conducted a survey of education in Malawi in 1924. The outcome was recommendations for educational reform. These included greater efforts to educate females, the expansion of primary education, and improved teacher training. The pattern of education was 4-3-3, meaning that primary school students attended school for four years. If they succeeded, they attended advanced primary school for three more years. Upon successful completion of both of these levels they advanced to junior high for three additional years. The age ranges were from 5 years to 20, since many entered school late due to farm duties. In addition, although most students finished the entire sequence in 10 years, some students took much longer given home responsibilities, scarcity of funds to pay school fees, and other constraints.

By 1927, Malawi had 2,788 schools, which were staffed by 4,481 teachers, many of whom were poorly trained or even unqualified. That same year Malawi established its first Board of Education, district school committees, and later in 1930 Advisory committees were established to control educational expenditure. In 1938, educational ordinances were revised to enable the governor to decide the composition of the Advisory Committee, and influence the creation of new schools. The government was concerned about local African groups opening schools with no idea of how to pay for ongoing maintenance, teachers' salaries, or other recurrent budget matters. Instruction was in the vernacular, as was Bible instruction, because this allowed western ideas to penetrate African society faster than was possible using English, which was foreign to many and difficult to understand. In this manner elementary arithmetic, reading, and writing spread among the African population.

After World War II, the Colonial government of Malawi determined that control over education and new rules for teaching service were important goals. By 1949, the British Colonial Office decided to reward Africans for loyal military service during World War II by offering two additional years of post primary education. This program was designed to prepare Africans for work in the Civil Service. After 1950, the system followed a 5-3-4-2 pattern. In other words Africans attended primary school, followed by senior primary school, then a four year secondary or high school that culminated in the Cambridge Higher School Certificate, and for a few advancement to a two year Advanced or "A" level specialized course that is comparable to Junior College. In 1963, this pattern changed to 7-5 pattern.

Following the break up of the Central African Federation in 1963, the Malawi Colonial government decided to assume responsibility for schools. Overnight most schools were transformed into public schools backed by the government. They inherited 2 secondary schools and 26 primary schools. The minister of education assumed responsibility for all schools in Malawi and inspected them through district committees of not more than 12 individuals who were controlled by the district commissioner. Church run schools continued, but played a far less important role in education. Two church-run secondary schools existed at Blantyre and Zomba. Europeans were permitted to maintain exclusively European schools, with the agreement that they would fully integrate in the future. Some saw the shifting of the burden of education onto the government just prior to independence as support for white minority regimes in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. The more money that free Africans were forced to spend on education and agriculture, the less that was available for arms or military training for freedom movements. Despite major investments in education, not more than 35 percent of Malawi's children attended primary school prior to independence.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The 1966 Malawi Constitution does not specifically mention education. The Malawi Congress Party, however, was committed to "see that all children who go to Primary School finish their primary education without let or hindrance." In other words, in Malawi, education is a privilege granted to students, but it is not a constitutionally guaranteed right. Rulers feel free to withdraw or withhold it if students oppose them or cause trouble.

Educational SystemOverview

The Ministry of Education has oversight responsibility and sets academic standards for all schools in Malawi. This includes primary, secondary, technical schools, teacher training institutes, agricultural colleges, correspondence colleges, business schools, polytechnic institutes, and the university. The university and Polytechnic Institute are in fact autonomous, but tradition now dictates that they come under the authority of the Ministry of Education. Adult education programs operated by ministries like the Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior are autonomous.

When Banda ruled education was a privilege given to a select few. Large numbers of Malawians were denied basic education. Today, primary education is universal and compulsory. Students enter school at age six and remain for eight years. Secondary education begins when students reach 14 years of age. It lasts for four years and is divided into two sets of two-year courses. By 1995, the total enrollment in primary and secondary schools was roughly 100 percent of school aged youth (males 106 percent and females 94 percent). Secondary enrollments still lag with 21 percent of males and 12 percent of females attending for an overall enrollment of 17 percent. Efforts are underway to expand educational opportunities. Free primary education was introduced in 1994. This led to a dramatic increase in primary school attendance, but it also caused overcrowding in many schools and a decline in the quality of education. Malawi recognizes these problems and is making efforts to fix them. For instance, in 1996, the International Development Association granted Malawi $22 million to train 20,000 new teachers to handle all the new students who are crowding into the schools. The African Development Bank also earmarked money for new school construction for primary and secondary schools in Malawi in 1997.

In 1995, Malawi had 3,706 primary schools, which were staffed by 49,138 primary school teachers. There were 2,887,107 primary school pupils of whom 1,528,564 were males and 1,358,543 were females. Opportunities are limited to attend secondary schools because throughout the Banda era an elitist attitude prevailed, i.e., only the rich, the best, and the brightest were encouraged to attend secondary school. All other students were pushed into vocational training or forced to farm the land. Although there are few secondary schools, they are of very high quality. The exact number of secondary schools is not available but there were 2,948 secondary school teachers in 1995, teaching 139,386 students. Of these students, 90,003 were male and 49,383 were female. There were 145 teachers who staffed teacher-training institutes, and they taught 1,471 potential new teachers, of whom 996 were males and 475 were females. Vocational schools were staffed by 79 teachers, who taught 1,054 vocational students. No breakdown by sex was available for vocational students. Malawi had 6 universities in 1995, which were staffed by 329 professors. They taught 3,872 students of whom 2,917 were male and 955 were female (UNESCO: Statistical Yearbook 1995). Other institutions of higher learning were staffed by 202 teachers and had 1,689 students studying administration and other subjects. Of these 959 were male and 730 were female. As of 1997 Malawi spent 2,111 kwacha on education or 20.4 percent of the budget. In 2001 the adult illiteracy rate was 58 percent (males 28 percent and females 58 percent), despite compulsory education between the ages of 6 and 14.

Academic years begin in September and end in June. There are 3 primary school teacher-training colleges, each of which enrolls roughly 500 students. Missions also operate other teacher training institutes with about 600 students. Primary school teachers are trained at the lower secondary level in teacher-training colleges where courses last two years. Selection for entry is by interview. Primary education begins at age six and consists of two cycles, i.e., Standard 1-5 and Standard 6-8. Many students are above the average age, and 16 percent repeat a grade. The dropout rate is high but declining. Chichewa is the language of instruction in most primary schools up to Standard 4. From Standard 5 on, English is the language of instruction. The central government pays teachers salaries, provides grants, and collects any authorized school fees to cover operating expenses.

Secondary school teachers are trained at the postsecondary level at Chancellor College, which offers a three year course that leads to a diploma in education, as well as a five year course culminating in a bachelor's degree in education. Technical teachers are trained jointly at the Polytechnic and Chancellor's College. Four-year secondary school courses are divided into two components. The first leads to a Junior Certificate (JC), and the second leads to a Malawi Certificate of Education (MCE), which is required for admission to the university. Completion of both levels is equivalent to finishing the "O" or Ordinary Level in the British system of education of high school in the American system.

Entry into the nursing, primary teacher training, vocational training, or agricultural training programs demand as a minimum requirement that students have earned the Junior Certificate (JC). Each of these courses requires a minimum of two additional years of training. This excludes nursing, which demands three to four more years of schooling. All educational requirements are geared toward meeting the manpower needs of Malawi, which are determined by the Ministry of Education.

Both the colonial British legacy and the legacy of former president Banda left Malawi with a large adult population that was illiterate. While attacking the problem, officials in Malawi recognize that this continues to be a stumbling block along the road to development and modernization. In 1980, there were 1,802,000 illiterates in Malawi. Of these, 559,000 or 36.3 percent were males and 1,243,000, or 72.7 percent were females. The total rate of illiteracy in 1980 was 55.5 percent. By 1990, the number of illiterates reached 2,369,000. The total illiteracy rate had fallen however to 48.1 percent because the population had grown rapidly. Of these 735,000 were males or 31.2 percent, and 1,634,000 or 63.7 percent were females. In 2000, the total rate of illiteracy in Malawi had fallen to 39.7 percent, but there were 2,296,000 illiterates of whom 718,000 or 25.5 percent were males and 1,577,000 or 53.3 percent were females. While the absolute number of illiterates has risen over time, the relative percentage of illiterates in Malawi's population has fallen. An encouraging trend is the decline in the percentage of women who are illiterate over time. Because women socialize children, this change should boost literacy rates in the future generations of Malawians.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Malawi makes no provision for preprimary education. Primary schools can be found in many villages and hamlets throughout Malawi. In 1970, there were approximately 2,000 primary schools that accommodated about 35 percent of primary school aged youth. About 12 percent of all primary school students attended private, predominantly church run schools. This percentage declined as the government took over the ever-growing number of schools. There are two main types of primary schools, namely assisted and unassisted schools. Assisted primary schools receive financial assistance from the central government. Some assisted schools are owned by missionaries, while others are owned by local education authorities. Unassisted schools can apply for financial aid if they meet Ministry of Education requirements for assistance.

In 1968, an estimated 88 percent of primary schools were run by religious missions who charged a fee for attendance. Some 5 percent of these students had scholarships. Primary schools were coeducational, and girls and boys attended classes together. In 1970 girls were 37 percent of all primary school students. Chichewa was the language of instruction, and English was also taught, along with geography, history, hygiene, arithmetic, and Bible studies. Some schools also introduced science and agriculture courses for Standards 6, 7, and 8. The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) aired radio programs that reinforced regular school programs. Each school had one or two radios, but the use of radio broadcasts was voluntary. Local languages, such as Chitumbuka, were used for prayers, singing, and non-course work in the north. Promotion was based upon passing a general examination. At the end of Standard 4, all students had to pass exams in Chichewa, English, and arithmetic with a minimum score of 50 percent to advance to Standard 5.

To qualify to enter secondary school students had to pass an externally graded (graded outside of Malawi) examination and earn a primary school leaving certificate. In 1972, a total of 30,495 students took this examination and 21,232 or 69.6 percent of students passed. There were, however, only 3,500 seats in Malawi's secondary schools that year, which severely limited the number of students who could pursue a secondary school diploma. Dropout rates were of necessity very high.

Former President Banda introduced new syllabi for primary and secondary schools in 1972, which aimed to free the classroom from dependence on rote memorization. Active learning encouraged students to engage their material and solve problems creatively. In science classes emphasis was placed upon understanding and being able to use concepts rather than memorization. New math was also introduced for the same reasons. Parents complained that the new methods did not adequately prepare their children. They pointed out that their sons and daughters did not know English well enough to fill out simple job applications in English or to write letters or resumes. Banda reviewed these complaints and expressed contempt for the "new" methods. He considered them failures. Malawi's schools went back to the old methods of teaching, and students were forced to memorize multiplication tables and charts of elements for chemistry. They worked on preset science experiments and used conventional English readers. Long answer essay examinations were used to test students, and multiple choice examinations were dropped.

As agriculture was the mainspring of Malawi's economy, farmer training was therefore given priority in all vocational training, adult education, and supplemental education programs. Education gradually went from an elitist orientation, which benefited the few who went on to secondary school, to one that slowly began to address the needs of the many who would live, work, and die on farms. Agriculture as a subject was introduced into primary school syllabi in the 1970s. Teacher training was simultaneously expanded to insure that pupils were instructed by qualified teachers. In 1970 this was a problem since less than 20 percent of all primary school teachers had achieved the Junior Certificate (JC) level of education themselves.

Total enrollment of primary school-aged youth has shown impressive gains. In 1970 only 35 percent of youth enrolled in primary schools. By 1980 this number had increased to 60 percent (males 72 percent and females 49 percent). It jumped higher in 1990 to 68 percent (males 74 percent and females 62 percent) and in 1995 to 89 percent. In 2001, all primary school aged children were enrolled in school, since President Muluzi made it free and compulsory after 1994. Pressures of modernization dictate that every Malawian have at least a basic education if the economy is to be competitive in a global setting.

Net primary enrollments have risen from 43 percent in 1980, to 50 percent in 1990, and to 100 percent in 2001. Primary school enrollment of males has also risen from 48 percent in 1980, to 52 percent in 1990, and to 134 percent in 2001. The same is true for females whose enrollment jumped from 38 percent in 1980, to 48 percent in 1990, and to 94 percent in 2001. In 1980, Malawi had 12,540 primary school teachers. This number rose to 22,942 in 1990 and to 49,138 in 1995. The percentage of female teachers rose from 31 percent in 1990 to 39 percent in 1995. Moreover, the pupil to teacher ratio fell from 65 pupils per teacher in 1980, to 61 pupils per teacher in 1990, and to 59 pupils per teacher in 1995 (UNESCO 2000). Malawi has yet to reach its target of 50 pupils per teacher. New teacher training colleges, such as the facility at Mzuzu, are designed to insure that teachers have proper qualifications and that the quality of education does not decline as opportunities expand for students. The government hopes in the future to train enough teachers that missionary teacher training institutes can be phased out. Since only 15 percent of primary school pupils go on to secondary school, the curriculums of most primary schools now emphasize crafts and vocational and technical skills to prepare students for life and employment after leaving primary school.

Ministry of Education officials have adopted a 5-3-4 system of education. Model primary schools are built in each district to demonstrate to villagers how to construct schools based upon a standard approved design that are durable and affordable. They are also shown how to equip each school to meet curriculum requirements for sciences, mathematics, literature, and social studies. It is hoped that this will prevent costly mistakes that are difficult to maintain.

Secondary Education

As the cornerstone of economic development and entry into the modern sector of the economy, secondary education is very important in Malawi. Secondary education developed late in Malawi, as little effort or expense was devoted to it throughout the colonial era. The year before independence there were only 3,000 secondary school openings in the entire nation, and only 4 of the 17 secondary schools offered a full program leading to a secondary school certificate. These schools were concentrated in a few key locations.

Secondary school normally last four years. Agriculture is a compulsory subject for all students. Wood working, metal work, and technical drawing are encouraged for boys, and home economics is encouraged for girls. An elite Latin grammar secondary school named after former president Banda is called Kamuzu Academy. It is located in the Kasungu District and takes only those students who were the very highest achievers in Standard 8 from all 24 of Malawi's districts. This school prepares students to attend Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and the world's other best universities. Teachers are all carefully selected and have Latin as part of their background. During their first three years, every student must take Latin, English, and mathematics. They can choose to take other subjects including classics, history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, and modern languages, especially French. Kamuzu Academy students take the CHSC examination upon completion of Form IV and the Cambridge Senior School Certificate examinations upon completion of "A" levels or Form VI. Students at regular secondary schools take a similar course of studies, but without the Latin and extreme academic rigor. Regular secondary schools emphasize agriculture, wood working, metal working, and home economics more because they do not assume that 100 percent of their graduates will go on to universities. The idea is to give those who do not continue to an university some practical skills. In 1980, there were 66 secondary schools in Malawi. One of the biggest criticisms of secondary schools in Malawi is that they are too university-oriented. Few students continue on to college. Most instead immediately enter the workforce and need a different orientation. Secondary schools do not produce as many graduates as the labor market demands. This is especially true for females.

Most old secondary schools were boarding schools. Initially there were only a few secondary boarding schools, so students came from afar and needed to live at the school. Student completion rates at this time were 90 percent. Completion rates are currently by contrast 30 percent. Females are especially vulnerable to high dropout rates if they attend day schools. Girls in boarding schools have a 90 percent completion rate, but those attending day schools have a 25 percent completion rate and only 10 percent pass the MCE examination.

Malawi has five types of secondary school. There are aided boarding schools, aided day schools, government boarding-secondary schools, government day secondary schools, and private secondary schools. Most secondary teachers are qualified and hold either degrees or diplomas. Unqualified teachers are restricted to teaching civics, physical education, or the Chichewa language. There are shortages of teachers for English, mathematics, and the sciences.

Following independence the Banda government tried to equalize secondary school opportunities by building a government secondary school in each of Malawi's 21 administrative districts. These were day schools and far less expensive to run than the colonial styled boarding schools. This program brought the number of openings for secondary students up to 8,000 in 1967. In 1972, the number of places had expanded to 12,800 offered by more than 58 secondary schools. By 1980 some 5 percent of the secondary school-aged population attended secondary school (7 percent of the eligible males and 3 percent of the eligible females). This number increased to 8 percent of the population by 1990, representing 11 percent of eligible males, and 5 percent of eligible females. As of 1995, approximately 17 percent of the secondary school-aged population attended secondary school. Some 21 percent of eligible males and 12 percent of eligible females were enrolled in secondary schools. When pupil progression is examined, it is observed that of the students who began primary school only 10 percent reached secondary school by 1992. Although gross enrollment figures for 1980 and 1990 were 5 and 17 percent respectively, the net enrollment ratios were 39 and 73 percent respectively for the same years.

In 1980, there were 953 secondary school teachers. This number increased to 3,172 by 1995. In 1996, the pupil to teacher ratio was 16:1. Females made up 13 percent of all secondary school students by 1996, and 83 percent of girls were out of secondary school by 1996. Roughly 15.1 percent of secondary school students were forced to repeat a grade. There were 327,000 secondary school aged students out of school in 1980 but this number dropped to 250,000 by 1997, indicating that progress is being achieved in enrolling more students in secondary schools.

Classes are designated Form I-Form IV for the Ordinary or "O" level certificate, and Form V-VI for the Advanced or "A" level series of courses. Students desiring to enter a university in Malawi must successfully complete both their "O" level and "A" level courses. Many "A" level students take prequalification courses so that they can pass the London General Certificate of Education, which enables them to attend foreign universities. In general, after completing Form II, students take the Junior Certificate Exam if they wish to continue to Forms II and higher. In 1972, some 3,786 students took this test, and 2,807 or 74.1 percent passed it. Students finishing Form IV must take and pass the Malawi Certificate of Education to be admitted to Forms V-VI and local universities. In 1973, some 2,485 students took this exam, and 1,360 passed it with high enough marks to be awarded the full certificate and go on to Form V. Passing this exam does not admit students to the university. Students who successfully complete Form VI are awarded a higher school certificate which enables them to enter the university.

Technical education begins in primary school and continues through secondary school and university. Primary school students learn the rudiments of crafts, technology, and agriculture. More than 50 percent of all secondary schools offer technical education courses. Technical secondary schools and the polytechnic offer the most intense technical training. Government technical schools offer apprenticeship type training through a cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor and in cooperation with local industry. Popular technical courses include plumbing, brickwork, carpentry and joinery, automobile mechanics, general fitting, diesel fitting, sheet-metal work, and electrical work. The minimum entry requirement for such courses is the Junior Certificate. Trainees spend one year in a government technical school taking courses in residence. At the end of the year, they take an examination. Those who pass earn a Grade 3 National Trade Certificate. Successful trainees are then apprenticed to an employer in an indentured relationship for three years. Throughout this three year period, trainees spend nine months understudying a master of the trade they seek to master and three months of each year taking courses at a technical school. Depending on the level of excellence a trainee reaches, they take either a Grade 2 Trade Test or a Grade 1 Trade Test. Throughout their apprenticeship trainees are paid a wage at a rate fixed by the government. Employers are refunded in full by the government for all expenses.

Assisted technical schools are owned by missionary organizations and managed by a board of governors who get annual government grants for their schools. Although similar to government schools, trainees are not eligible for apprenticeships. These schools offer two-year residential courses up to the Grade 2 Trade Test level. Students learn brickwork, carpentry and joinery, and automobile mechanics.

Technician courses require a high pass on the Malawi Certificate of Education. Such students follow normal apprenticeship patterns, then take courses full time for one year at a polytechnic, which is then followed by three years of "industrial attachment." Trainees spend six months of each year in industry and six months at the polytechnic, where they can take the "City and Guild" examination, which is then graded in London.

Engineering diplomas can be earned by taking a three year university course at a polytechnic. Academic courses are taken, as well as technical subjects. The engineering program began in 1977 and is a six-year program aimed at producing high level professional engineers.

Malawi also operates Youth Training Centers, under the authority of the Malawi Congress Party. Such centers provide training in building and metal works as a reward to youth who are party loyalists. After finishing such courses, youth go into business for themselves in rural communities. Graduates know how to build a complete house and manufacture things like furniture, doors, windows, and cupboards. Their metalwork training prepares them to maintain and repair farm implements, hand tools, bicycles, oxcarts, and other items common in rural areas. Training at these centers lasts from one to two years. Although these centers do not have apprenticeship programs, they do offer pre-apprenticeship programs that allow successful graduates to transfer to government sponsored schools which offer apprenticeship programs.

Higher Education

All higher education in Malawi is ultimately controlled by the University of Malawi, which was founded in 1964. The university is located in Zomba, Malawi's former capital, which is now a university town. The vice chancellor and registrar run the university. The president is the chancellor, which is purely a ceremonial office. There are four constituent colleges, each of which has its own registrar. Bunda College specializes in agriculture; Chancellor College offers arts, education, sciences, social sciences, law, and public administration; Kamuzu College offers nursing, community health, mental health, maternal and child health care, and medical surgical nursing courses; and the Polytechnic College offers technical courses. The university also operates a hotel training college and a marine-training school. The university is governed by a council, whose members are appointed by the government. The faculty senate insures that academic matters are governed by professors. The university awards both degrees and diplomas, as well as certificates for short courses. Government grants pay for 91 percent of university costs and miscellaneous income accounts for the remaining 9 percent of the university's income.

Access to higher education is based on passing the Malawi Certificate of Education (MCE). A student must earn at least five credits, including English. This exam may be taken after completing eight years of primary and four years of secondary education. Students wishing to be accepted by the university must achieve excellent scores on these exams.

The first or bachelor's degree is normally earned after four years of concentrated study in residence. It takes five years to complete courses in law, education, agriculture, and commerce and six years to finish the full engineering program. Honors degrees are awarded in some subjects. A professional qualification is awarded as a diploma after three years of study.

A second stage or master's degree requires two years of full time study to complete. A third stage or doctorate degree is awarded after finishing three to five years of study beyond the master's degree, a successful defense of a thesis or dissertation, and at least six months in residence at the university

In 1990, approximately 4,829 students enrolled in universities in Malawi. Of these 26 percent or 1,352 students were females. In 1994, some 5,358 students were enrolled, and 30 percent were females. By 1996, there were 5,561 students enrolled in universities in Malawi, and the percentage of females held constant at 30 percent. As of 2000, only 1 percent of Malawi's population was enrolled in universities. Approximately 72 percent of all college students were pursuing degrees in education, 10.9 percent were taking degrees in the social sciences, 12.2 percent were pursuing science degrees, 3.9 percent were taking degrees in medicine, and 0.4 percent were pursuing degrees in the humanities. Given Malawi's growing need for high-powered labor, Malawi will be dependent on expatriate skilled labor far into the foreseeable future, unless the university system expands.

Nonformal Education

Education that prepares adults for specialized roles in the economy or on the job training is involved in non-formal education, as do general education outreach programs, adult literacy campaigns, and education on health and hygiene. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources offers courses leading to certificates in forestry, fisheries, veterinary assistants training, agricultural extension agents, crop and livestock agents, and other certificate programs. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications offers certificate training in air traffic control, meteorology, automotive repair, fire and rescue training, post and telecommunications training, airline sales and reservations, and other certificates. The Ministry of Labor offers certificate programs in leadership and a variety of apprenticeship programs in various technical areas. The Ministry of Health prepares health assistants, dental assistants, health inspectors, paramedical personnel, nurses, nurses aides, and rural health assistants. The Ministry of Works trains its own artisans and technicians. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare offers certificate training in leadership, community development, homecraft, health and nutrition, childcare, and literacy trainers. The Ministry of Youth and Culture administers certificate training in metalwork, carpentry, business, agriculture, and clerical work. Adult literacy courses are offered nationwide to combat illiteracy, and the rate of adult illiteracy has declined as a result.

Teaching Profession

The Ministry of Education develops the curriculums used in Malawi's schools. They also oversee teacher training. Teachers take both pedagogical and academic courses. Supervised practice teaching is expected before gaining control of ones own classroom. Most teachers begin as primary school teachers in a demonstration school adjacent to teacher training facilities. Later, block teaching is tried during which the teacher trainee tries teaching a class on their own for six weeks.

There are three types of lecturers that teach potential teachers. There are graduate teacher educators, who chair most departments, as well as diplomate and nondiplomate assistants. There are two types of primary school teachers. The type 2 teacher holds a Malawi Certificate of Education (four years of high school), plus they have completed a two-year Teachers Certificate. A type 3 teacher holds a Junior Certificate (two years of high school), plus a two-year Teachers Certificate. Type 4 teachers have a primary education plus a Teacher's Certificate. Type 4 teachers are either being upgraded to type 3 teachers or being phased out of teaching. Type 1 is a promotional grade reserved for headmasters of school principals. Due to a shortage of qualified teachers, unqualified ones are often hired and allowed to attempt to pass the Junior Certificate Exam. They are given short inservice training courses to upgrade their knowledge base and skills.

Secondary school teachers are trained at the School of Education. This school awards three types of professional qualifications, which are the Diplomas of Education, Bachelor's of Education, and the University Certificate of Education. Secondary school teachers are in general better educated and better paid than primary school teachers. Prospective teachers enter as either degree or diploma candidates and follow the course of study for a general degree in education. Those taking diplomas continue for a third year of study and take courses in educational pedagogy, methodology, and the subject that they will eventually teach. Those taking a Bachelor's degree continue for a fourth year of study, which concentrates on their subject area, for example European History, as well as education courses. A fifth year of study allows these students to study educational methodology and to practice teaching.

A University Certificate in Education course is shorter and aimed at graduates without teaching qualifications who wish to become teachers none the less. Students take a three week intensive course and then teach classes for a year. Following this experience, they spend one more year in study at the School of Education where they take courses on education and methodology, which is followed by supervised practice teaching.

Technical teachers often train abroad at polytechnic institutes or locally. Most secondary school technical teachers train in England, while primary school vocational teachers train locally. The Ministry of Education offers a continuous stream of courses to upgrade and develop working teachers, especially unqualified teachers. Secondary school teachers take upgrading courses at the University of Malawi where they spend two years with pay while advancing their education. Unqualified teachers can earn a University Certificate of Education, and diploma teachers can transform themselves into graduate teachers by working for the two year Bachelor of Education degree. Short in-service courses are also offered by the Ministry of Education at their headquarters and regional offices. These courses teach teachers how the educational system works and help them to improve their teaching skills as well.

Most professors are expatriates. Malawi citizens who serve as professors constitute 30 percent of the university's faculty. In 1977 the university needed 170 professors, but 51 positions were vacant because they were difficult or impossible to fill due to funding and working conditions. A total of 87 of the 199 working faculty or 87 percent were expatriates. While 27 percent of the professorate were from Malawi and a further 48 percent were pursuing advanced degrees abroad, there is no guarantee that they will return due to the "brain drain" and higher salaries and better working conditions abroad. There is a need both to upgrade or develop personnel currently serving as professors and to train many more Malawi natives to fill these posts.


Despite many problems, Malawi's population is growing fast, and the long years of colonial oppression and oppression by the Banda regime have ended. A population hungry for basic education is finally receiving it since primary education is for the first time free and compulsory. Much work still remains to be done in terms of improving the quality of the primary schools and the education that they deliver to students in Malawi, but progress can be seen each year. Education no longer stresses academic preparation leading to access to secondary school and universities, rather the stress is now on agriculture and practical training since few students go on to high school or university and most begin work immediately after primary school. Secondary and university education have seen dramatic growth but neither educational sector comes close to meeting Malawi's educational needs for a well-trained labor force. This leaves Malawi dependent on foreign well-trained labor to fuel its advancement. Efforts are being made to correct this, but it is a problem that may take several decades to overcome, as the solutions will be expensive and difficult to realize. Assuming an absence of political violence and turmoil, Malawi's future looks brighter and more hopeful than at any other point in its past.


Bhola, H.S. "Adult Literacy Policy and Performance in Malawi: An Analysis." Workshop in Political Theory. University of Indiana, 14 January 1985.

Castro-Leal, Florencia. "Who Benefits from Public Education Spending in Malawi?" Discussion Paper Number 350. Washington DC: World Bank, 1996.

Clark, P.J. "Education and Environmenal Problems in Rural Malawi." Rural Africana, 1973.

Heyneman, Stephen. "The Evaluation of Human Capital in Malawi." Washington DC: World Bank.

Nelson, Harold. Malawi: Area Handbook. Washington DC: American University Press, 1975.

Pachai, Bridglal. Malawi: The History of the Nation. London: Longmann, 1973.

Pike, J. Malawi: A Political and Economic History. New York: Praeger, 1968.

Ramsay, E. Jeffress. "Malawi." In Africa: Global Studies. 9th Ed. 104-105. Guilford: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Sturges, R.P. "The Political Economy of Information: Malawi Under Kamuzu Banda, 1964-94." International Information and Library Review 30(3): 185-201.

Tan, Jee-Peng. "User Charges for Education: The Ability and Willingness to Pay in Malawi." Working Paper Number 661. Washington DC: World Bank, 1984.

UNESCO. Statistical Yearbook. 44 ed. Paris: UNESCO, 2000.

. World Guide to Higher Education: A Comparative Survey of Systems, Degrees, and Qualifications. 3d ed. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1996.

White, Mathew. "Education: A Change of Policy." Financial Times, 29 June 1972.

Wood, A. "Training Malawi's Youth: The Work of the Malawi Young Pioneers." Community Development Journal, July 1970.

Dallas L. Browne

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Republic of Malawi

Major Cities:
Lilongwe, Blantyre

Other Cities:
Dedza, Karonga, Mzuzu, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Zomba


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1994. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The Republic of MALAWI , once part of the Federation of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland, achieved its independence in July 1964, and was organized into its present political entity two years later. In the middle of the last century, the area that is now Malawi came into the sphere of British influence through the antislavery zeal of David Livingstone, Scottish missionary and explorer in Africa. It was established as the Protectorate of Nyasaland. Its present name, assumed at the time of independence, is derived from the Maravi, a Bantu tribe who crossed Zambia from the southern Congo and entered the territory approximately five centuries ago.



The Embassy, USIS, and USAID are located in Lilongwe, which became the capital on January 1, 1975. The original town of Lilongwe was a modest trading center with a population of 4,000 in 1970. Planning for the new capital began in the late 1960s in response to a long-standing wish of the president to move the capital to a more central area, shifting northward the development pattern, which had previously heavily favored the southern Blantyre-Zomba region. The relocation also placed the capital in the home area of the predominant Chewa tribe.

The new capital site is located about 5 miles from Lilongwe "Old Town" and was literally carved out of the bush. Even with a population of 437,000, the atmosphere in Lilongwe is one of a small, isolated settlement in the middle of a rolling savanna.

Lilongwe has an expatriate colony, mostly of U.K. origin, of approximately 2,000. Many work for the Government of Malawi; others are connected with diplomatic missions, the construction business, or missionaries. The American community in Lilongwe includes Embassy personnel, Peace Corps volunteers, a few professors, UN personnel, consultants, and missionaries.


Locally grown vegetables and fruits are plentiful and inexpensive, but availability varies seasonally. Most people augment their supply with vegetable gardens. A good selection of vegetable and flower seeds is available locally, although many people prefer to bring seeds or order them from the U.S. Canning and freezing supplies are not available.

Food prices in general have increased steadily in the last few years. The cost of fresh meat, including beef, chicken, pork and lamb, or mutton, is generally lower than in the U.S. for comparable cuts, but periodic shortages occur. Canned or imported meat is much more expensive. Good quality fish from Lake Malawi, including a delicious type of tilapia called chambo, is available most of the year at reasonable costs.

Staples such as flour, sugar, salt, and oil are available locally, but are inferior in quality. Canned goods, like other processed foods, are much more expensive than in the U.S. Most are imported from the U.K. or South Africa. Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and paper products such as tissues, paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper are of poor quality and are priced very high. Baby products and convenience foods (cake mixes, prepared foods, etc.) are limited in availability and selection.

The local bakeries sell a variety of white and wheat breads. Pasteurized reconstituted milk is available and safe to drink. Eggs, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, mild cheddar cheese, and other dairy products are available, but periodic shortages occur. People stock up on standard items to tide them through the frequent shortage periods.

Two supermarkets and numerous branch "superettes" carry a limited selection of canned and bottled goods, dairy products, meats, some fresh fruits, and vegetables. The Lilongwe open market sells all seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as rice, flour, salt, peanuts, fish, meats, and other miscellaneous goods. Local Asian stores also sell a variety of canned and bottled goods, as well as spices, dried fish, and some specialty items.


General: Clothing is expensive, often of poor quality, and very limited in selection. Bring sufficient clothing for all family members or order it from the U.S. Simple, practical clothing is best suited to Lilongwe life. Washable fabrics are suitable for all but the most formal occasions. Summer clothing is worn from September to April. Most winter days (from May to August) are cool with evening temperatures dipping to 40°F. Because houses and offices become chilly during this period, bring plenty of sweaters, sweatshirts, and light jackets. A light-weight raincoat or umbrella is essential during the rainy season.

Although dry-cleaning facilities are available, work varies from poor to adequate. The dry-cleaners refuse to clean some items, such as silk dresses, and do not give guarantees on larger items such as bedspreads. Some people do their own dry-cleaning with locally purchased benzine. Others take their dry-cleaning with them on trips to more developed countries.

The choice of shoes is also very limited, but ladies sandals and children's shoes are usually available.

Lilongwe has a few dressmakers and tailors, but the quality of their work varies.

Men: Due to unreliable local dry-cleaning facilities, wash-and-wear suits are more practical, but other light-weight suits are also worn. Dress is conservative in Malawi; coats and ties are the rule in government offices, most business meetings, and some restaurants for dinner. Some businessmen wear safari-type suits, but they are not generally regarded as adequate alternatives to coats and ties, as is the case in some other African countries.

Women: Women will find cotton dresses and skirts suitable for most occasions, including work. Synthetics can be worn comfortably on all but a few of the hottest days. Sweaters and woolen dresses or suits are useful for the cooler months. Women may find light-weight coats or warm shawls necessary for some evenings. Very few occasions call for long dresses and elaborate hostess gowns are not needed. Cotton lingerie is more comfortable in the hot season than nylon.

Children: Children need both warm and cool weather clothing for the varying temperatures throughout the year. Bring a good supply of shorts, pants, short-and long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, light jackets, sturdy shoes, socks, summer and winter pajamas, slippers, raincoats, and umbrellas. Although girls can wear shorts or pants in their own homes and in the homes of other Americans, be sure to bring an adequate supply of skirts or dresses that cover the knee for trips to the stores or other public areas. The school requires a very specific uniform that can be purchased locally at a reasonable cost. However, you should bring with you the required black or brown leather-type shoes that all students must wear, plus sports shoes for physical education.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: European and South African cosmetics and pharmaceuticals are usually available; however, selection is limited, and prices are high. Bring personal items, including favorite brands, with you. Many common nonprescription drugs and medicines are available (aspirin, vitamins), but again, high prices, shortages, and limited selection are constraining factors. Plan to have special prescriptions filled from the U.S.

Locally made cigarettes are inexpensive. Pipe tobacco and cigars are expensive, and selection is limited. Locally produced beer and gin are good and reasonably priced; most other liquors are expensive.

Basic Services: Most basic services are available, although quality of work varies. Several beauty shops offer haircuts for both men and women. Shoe repair is not good, but reasonable tailors can be found for alterations and dressmaking. Dry-cleaners are available, but unreliable.

Religious Activities

The Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Roman Catholic churches conduct English-language services in Lilongwe. Other denominations, including the Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Seventh-day Adventist, and Southern Baptist are represented. Islamic and Hindu places of worship are also located in Lilongwe.


Expatriate children can attend only "designated schools" which are run by the Government of Malawi. In Lilongwe, most children of American families attend the Bishop Mackenzie School (BMS), which offers coeducational instruction for Reception (age 4) through Form 5 (equivalent to 10th grade). The curriculum is designed according to the British system, and the teaching staff is predominantly British. The school year consists of three terms extending from September to mid-December, mid-January to early April, and mid-April to early July. There are 40 classrooms plus a library on 25 acres of land that also includes three sports fields, two tennis courts, a playground, a swimming pool, and a large, newly constructed school hall.

Uniforms are required and can be purchased locally at reasonable cost.

Private kindergartens are also available for 2-5 year olds in Lilongwe. There are waiting lists, however, and it is best to write in advance to secure a place for your preschooler.

Special Educational Opportunities

The University of Malawi at Zomba offers extension courses in languages, anthropology, literature, and history. The French Cultural Center in Lilongwe offers French-language courses.


Malawi's good weather and facilities combine to make a wide variety of sports available in Lilongwe. The Lilongwe Golf Club offers an 18-hole golf course, squash, swimming, tennis, and other sports facilities. The Capital Hotel also has swimming and squash facilities.

Volleyball, basketball, and softball games are organized weekly on an informal basis at various locations in Lilongwe. The Hash House Harriers running group can be seen each week running/walking throughout the neighborhoods of Lilongwe and are always seeking new members. Horseback riding is also possible for those interested.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

You can swim, dive, sail, boat, and fish on Lake Malawi. The Livingstonia Hotel, near Salima, offers a swimming pool plus private beach for hotel residents with free use of its facilities and maritime equipment, including sailboats, paddleboats, kayaks, wind surfboards, scuba, and snorkeling equipment. Further south on the lake are Cape Maclear and Monkey Bay with excellent beach-front hotels nearby. The Lake Malawi National Park, a maritime park, is located at Cape Maclear. Here the most beautiful, crystal-clear water with over 400 different species of freshwater tropical fish creates a snorkeling paradise. In addition to a wide variety of maritime recreation, there are also nature trails for hiking in an area where birdlife is prolific.

Malawi Railways operates several lake steamers, and one, the Ilala, features limited cabin accommodations. Trips on the Ilala can be made for up to 7 days. In addition, the boat can load one car on board, although reservations must be made far in advance.

Malawi has several game parks and reserves, and although the facilities are not greatly developed, most parks do offer beautiful landscape and good game viewing. Kasungu National Park is about a 3-hour drive from Lilongwe on good roads, although roads inside the park are unpaved. You will see a wide variety of game, and accommodations, inclusive of meals, are comfortable. Lengwe Park in the southern region (Lower Shire) offers game viewing and modest accommodations; a cook is available, but you must provide your own food. Nyika Park is located in the northern region on a high plateau and offers spectacular scenery and many different types of game. It is, however, the most remote of the parks and is difficult to reach; accommodations are pleasant. The country has other game reserves, but these do not offer facilities for overnight accommodations. Reservations for all parks and reserves are handled through the central Forestry Office in Lilongwe.

Tiger fishing is possible on the Lower Shire River, and hunting is popular in the Central Region, where good opportunities for guinea fowl, francolin, and duck shooting are found.

The town of Zomba is about 4 hours south of Lilongwe, and Zomba Plateau is a popular area for outings. It offers a mountain atmosphere with evergreen forests and is considered an excellent spot for hiking. In addition, within the area are several spots for trout fly fishing. The KuChawe Inn, a small hotel, is located nearby.

A trip to Blantyre, which is 191 miles from Lilongwe and a 4-hour drive, offers a welcome change. Blantyre is the country's main commercial and industrial center with an urban population of some 400,000. Set in the hilly country of the Shire highlands, Blantyre hosts a broader selection of good restaurants and shops than can be found in Lilongwe.

It is possible to travel by road to Zambia and on to Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, although current visa and transit policy should be checked in advance. Lusaka is a 1-day drive from Lilongwe, and Harare or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe can be reached in another day. These roads are paved but are generally in fair-to-poor condition, with potholes and/or deteriorated surfaces in some sections. Malawi is also linked by air to neighboring countries and South Africa, and excursion fares and package holidays are sometimes available at a reduced price.


The Lilongwe Golf Club, and to some extent the Capital Hotel, serve as social centers. Lilongwe service clubs, such as Lions, Rotary, Round Table, and several women's associations frequently sponsor special events, including casino nights, dinners, and discos. Local amateur groups present productions throughout the year. Many other clubs, such as a music society, garden club, and wildlife society, are also active.

There are no cinemas currently operating in Lilongwe. However, the Defense Attache's Office shows a weekly videotaped movie at the USIS Center open to Americans and their guests free of charge.

Social Activities

Among Americans: Most entertaining and social relationships among Americans consist of small informal lunches or dinners and cocktail parties. Given the relative lack of variety of social centers in town, a great deal of home entertaining takes place, ranging from relatively formal receptions to very casual barbecue-type lunches.

International Contacts: Good opportunities exist to develop contacts with both the resident expatriate community and Malawians, primarily through home entertaining. In addition, service clubs and other associations provide settings for international contacts. The resident diplomatic community is small, but a good deal of contact and entertaining exist within it. Business and government groups are more differentiated, but it is also possible to develop good contacts on a social level, as well as a professional level with these groups.


Blantyre remains both the largest city and the major commercial center of Malawi, with an urban population estimated at 402,000. Situated in the Shire Highlands at an elevation of 3,500 feet above sea level, it is the oldest township in the country. The city grew from the establishment in 1876 of the Church of Scotland's mission on that site, and is named for the Scottish birthplace of Dr. David Livingstone. It became a municipality in 1885. Later, the town of Limbe developed about five miles away, around the headquarters of the Malawi Railways and the Imperial Tobacco Company, and was declared a township in 1909. As the two townships grew, most of the in-between area was built up and a single municipality was formed in March 1956. A charter was granted to the combined unit as the City of Blantyre in 1966. Sister-city relations have been established with Independence, Missouri, U.S.A.; Hanover, Germany; and Ndola, Zambia.

Blantyre, covering an area of about 77.5 square miles (129 square kilometers), retains the greatest share of industrial activity in the country. Establishments in the city's Chichiri and Chirimba areas, designated for industrial development, include firms manufacturing textiles, fertilizers, shoes, matches, and drinks. Modern service roads, water pipes, and sewage systems have been installed.

The aesthetics of the community are maintained in the many landscaped parks and gardens, and a horticultural school (open to the public) is operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation.


As in Lilongwe, expatriate children attend only "designated," privatelyrun schools. St. Andrews in Blantyre is one of these, and offers a British-based curriculum in a primary school through the seventh grade, and a secondary-school program for Forms I-V, roughly corresponding to grades eight-12. This latter program is designed to lead to the "O" level examination of the General Certificate of Education. St. Andrews has a boarding facility, and most children who live outside the Blantyre area attend the school here.

A three-term schedule is followed, from September to mid-December, mid-January to early April, and the end of April to the end of June. Uniforms are required, and can be obtained locally at reasonable cost. Many parents choose to supply supplementary aids, texts, and reference material from home.

Situated on 35 acres of picturesque African countryside overlooking Mulanje Mountain, St. Andrews offers weekend trips to nearby forests, rivers, and game parks. The school also has an extensive sports program featuring swimming, basketball, golf, squash, and many other sports. Music and art are also offered as extracurricular activities.

Admission to St. Andrews is tightly controlled, and will not be made unless a vacancy exists; a waiting list is frequently encountered, making early application advisable. Contact with the school can be made by writing to St. Andrews Primary School, Box 593, or to St. Andrews Secondary School, Box 221, both in Blantyre, Malawi.

Blantyre has several private nursery schools, usually crowded, but generally considered adequate.

The University of Malawi at Zomba offers extension courses in languages, anthropology, literature, and history.


Blantyre and Limbe have clubs with 18-and 12-hole golf courses, respectively. Other sports offered in the area include rugby, soccer, cricket, tennis, swimming, squash, badminton, flying, fishing, and boating. Schools provide opportunities for children to participate in numerous games and sporting activities.

Swimming, sailing, boating, and fishing are possible on Lake Malawi. In the Mangochi area, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Blantyre, recreational facilities can be found at Nkopola Lodge and at Club Makokola. Tiger fishing is possible on the lower Shire River, and trout fishing (fly rods only) on the Zomba Plateau, about an hour away from Blantyre.

General information about game parks, reserves, and touring activities is included in the section on Lilongwe.


Active organizations and clubs in or near Blantyre include the Blantyre Sports Club, Limbe Country Club, Council of Social Services, Mulanje Mountain Club, Sailing Club, Rotary and Lions clubs, Camera Club, Round Table, Jaycees, and Malawi Society. The latter group organizes lectures on Malawi's history and other related subjects; among its achievements is the creation of the Malawi Museum. The Board of Hotels and Tourism sponsors a Malawi arts and crafts center.

Blantyre and Limbe have several cinemas which frequently show recent popular films, generally in English. A number of private clubs in the area provide dining facilities and bars and lounges.

Amateur dramatic and music societies give occasional public performances and exhibitions. Dances are sometimes held in the hotels or clubs, and some social activities are sponsored by service clubs, such as Rotary and Lions.

The American community in Blantyre is small, thus making its own activities somewhat limited. There is, however, a sizable expatriate community, and frequent occasions arise (usually dinners or parties) to meet other foreign residents, as well as Malawian business and government leaders. Most social events tend to be informal, normally calling for business apparel for men, and the required below-the-knee dress for women. Black-tie/formal gown events are rare.

Volunteer activities also provide an opportunity for international contact through a variety of organizations, including the Red Cross and the service clubs.


At the foot of Dedza Mountain, the city of DEDZA is located in the central region of Malawi, on the country's western border with Mozambique. Less than 50 miles from Lilongwe, its cool climate and mountain water make Dedza ideal for growing rice and potatoes. Forestry is an important industry because of the plentiful softwood on Dedza Mountain. There are sawmills and a forestry training school nearby. Dedza was sparsely inhabited until the 1920s and 1930s. Tourism is minimal in this city of about 5,500 residents.

KARONGA , a trading port with a population of 13,000, is situated at the northern end of Lake Nyasa in the Great Rift Valley. The economy, based on the cotton and rice production along the lake and on coffee and livestock in the west, is augmented by subsistence fishing. It was used as military headquarters during World War I.

MZUZU was founded in 1949, and is the chief urban center of the Northern Region. It is approximately 200 miles north of Lilongwe. The city was once an administrative center and is now attracting industries such as grain factories and bakeries. A tung oil extraction plant is also located here. Mzuzu has a population of just over 40,000.

NKHOTAKOTA (formerly called Kota Kota) is an administrative center in the central region of Malawi, about 75 miles north of the capital on the shores of Lake Nyasa. Once a place where Arab slave traders worked, Nkhotakota is Malawi's largest traditional African city. Nkhotakota trades corn, cotton, fish, and rice. Tourist spots include a rest house and hot springs.

NSANJE (formerly called Port Herald) is located in the southernmost part of Malawi, near the Mozambique border. It is a trade and transportation center. Major products produced in Nsanje include tobacco, rice, corn, and cotton. The population is estimated to be 6,400.

ZOMBA is located in southern Malawi's Shire Highlands, 70 miles south of Lake Nyasa and about 40 miles north of Blantyre. For many years it has been a popular summer resort. The city, founded by European cotton planters in 1880, was the capital of what is now Malawi during the early days of the former British administration. When Lilongwe became the capital on January 1, 1975, Zomba developed into a university town. Zomba is also a commercial center where farmers from the surrounding area sell their tobacco and dairy products. The town also trades rice, corn, fish, and softwoods. The main campus of the University of Malawi is located here. Zomba's population is 43,000.


Geography and Climate

Completely landlocked in southeast Africa, Malawi borders Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Malawi's southern tip lies 130 miles inland from the sea. Altitude varies from less than 200 feet above sea level at Nsanje in the south to almost 10,000 feet at the peak of Mount Mulanje. Malawi's topography consists of high, well-watered plateaus broken by large hills.

Malawi covers 46,066 square miles and is about the size of Pennsylvania. A deep depression, its chief physical feature, runs through the center and forms part of the Great Rift Valley. In this depression are Lake Malawi and the Shire Valley. Lake Malawi, about 1,500 feet above sea level and 380 miles long, is Africa's third largest lake and Malawi's major tourist attraction. In Malawi's north and central areas are the Nyika, Vipya, and Dedza uplands, rising from 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. In the south, the Shire Highlands plateau averages 3,000-4,000 feet, with occasional peaks such as Zomba (7,000 feet) and Mulanje (10,000 feet). Malawi has wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to April; the heaviest rainfall occurs between December and March. The dry season begins in May and lasts until November. It is hottest just before rainfalls begin.

The capital, Lilongwe (altitude 3,400 feet) is in a high, central plateau area. The average daily temperature in Lilongwe during October is 84.6°F. June, July, and August are the coolest months, and nights can be quite chilly when temperatures drop to between 41°F and 57°F. Frost occasionally occurs in Lilongwe. During the dry season, particularly September and October, high winds and some dust occur. The annual mean temperature in Lilongwe is 67.4°F, and the annual rainfall is 31.9 inches. Nights are generally cool and pleasant in Lilongwe, even during the hottest weather. Dry season days are generally sunny and warm; rains during the wet season are brief. The Blantyre area is more mountainous, and its weather more humid.


Malawi, with an estimated population of 10.1 million (2000), is one of Africa's most densely populated countries. The population includes over 9.5 million Africans, 5,000 Europeans, and 7,000 Asians. Most Europeans are of British stock from the U.K., South Africa, or Zimbabwe, and many are involved in missionary work, business, or farming. In addition, since 1987, Malawi has hosted large numbers of Mozambicans fleeing that country's civil war. Mozambican refugees in Malawi totaled more than 1 million in late 1992, and in some areas of the country, Mozambican refugees outnumber native Malawians. Americans living in Malawi include missionaries, U.S. Government officials, engineers, construction workers, and Peace Corps volunteers.

The African population includes six principal tribes. Although language and customs are still distinct, tribalism is not as evident here as in other African countries. English is one of the official languages; all educated Africans speak it. More than 50 percent of the people speak Chichewa, the other official language, and almost everyone understands it. The second most important African language, Tumbuka, is spoken in the north.

In the past, many Malawians worked abroad, but fewer South African mine labor contracts have decreased this number greatly. Sizable numbers of Malawians still reside and work in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Malawian customs and mores have grown out of a tradition of individual worth combined with a spirit of community. The gentle arts of courtesy and cooperation are valued, and Americans will find little trouble relating to the basic warmth and politeness of Malawians. The traditional Malawian extends both hands to receive or give a gift, kneels to address a superior, and waits for permission before leaving. These expressions of politeness are still common in certain situations. Extended hand-holding is a common sign of friendship.

Public Institutions

Malawi came under British influence through the antislavery missionary zeal of David Livingstone. Missionaries and traders followed, and later a British consul was appointed. Under British consul Harry Johnston, military attempts to end the slave trade took place during the late 19th century. However, slave traffic did not end until 1895 with the capture and execution of the Arab slavers at Karonga, Nkhotakota, and Jumbe.

The former Protectorate of Nyasaland became a part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in September 1953, and seceded in December 1962. It gained full independence on July 6, 1964, under the name of Malawi and became a Republic on July 6, 1966.

After nearly 30 years of single-party rule, Malawi held multi-party elections in 1994 resulting in the election of businessman Bakili Muluzi as president to a five year term. He was reelected in 1999. The National Assembly has 193 Members. A new constitution was approved in May 1994.

The judicial system comprises a high court and magistrate courts patterned after the British system and African traditional courts. In 1993, the role of the traditional courts was greatly diminished.

Arts, Science, and Education

Artistic attractions are principally tribal dancing, arts and crafts, and a small museum in Blantyre. A French-Canadian Catholic priest, resident in Malawi for 25 years, has an extensive collection of decorative masks worn by Malawians during their various tribal dances. He is building a museum near his mission in southern Malawi to house these artifacts. Diplomatic missions occasionally sponsor concerts by visiting musicians or shows by visiting artists. "Disco" has become quite popular among Malawians, and hotels usually have a live band for dancers. Chancellor College, the liberal arts branch of the University of Malawi, is located in Zomba. Bunda College of Agriculture and the Kamuzu College of Nursing are in Lilongwe, and Blantyre hosts the Polytechnic College; each is a branch of the University of Malawi.

Commerce and Industry

Malawi's economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 37 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 85 percent of export earnings. Important exports that earn the bulk of Malawi's foreign exchange are tobacco, tea, coffee, peanuts, cotton, legumes, and sugar.

Malawi's few manufacturing industries are concentrated around Blantyre. These include manufacturers of soap, agricultural tools, edible oils and fats, breads, candy, beer, bricks, shoes, hair oils, cigarettes, gin, clothing, furniture, fishing nets, nails, automobile batteries, blankets, rugs, light metal work, textiles, farm trailers, bus and truck bodies, tankers, coaches, low-loaders, leather, ceramics, and wood carvings.

Inflation is very high, at 29.5 percent as of 2001. Malawi is heavily dependent on economic assistance from donor organizations and countries. The country currently faces the challenges of developing a true market economy, improving its educational facilities, and dealing with the ever growing problem of HIV and AIDS.



Local bus service in the Lilongwe area will not meet daily needs for getting to work, shopping, or recreation. Taxi service is limited in the new Capital City section of Lilongwe. Rental cars are available in both Blantyre and Lilongwe, although choice of model is limited. Rental rates are comparable to those in many parts of the U.S.


The international airport in Malawi is Kamuzu International Airport located approximately 16 miles from the Capital City section of Lilongwe. Blantyre is served by domestic flights only; flying time from Lilongwe is about 50 minutes. Limited international flights link Lilongwe with neighboring countries, South Africa and Kenya. Direct European service is currently limited to a Saturday flight to London (British Airways), a Tuesday flight to Paris (Air France), and Thursday and Sunday flights to Amsterdam (KLM). Connections to other international locations can be made in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lusaka, and Harare.

A two-lane paved highway connects the major population centers of Lilongwe, Zomba, and Blantyre. Driving time from Lilongwe to Blantyre or Zomba is approximately 4 hours. The road is good but narrow, and drivers must be cautious as cattle and other farm animals wander onto the road. Good quality, two-lane roads also connect Lilongwe with the Zambia border and Mzuzu and Karonga in the north of the country. Travel from Lilongwe to Lake Malawi at Salima is being improved; a new two-lane asphalt highway should be completed this year. Most of the other roads in the country vary in quality from rough tarmac roads to dirt and gravel. Some of the lesser traveled roads may be impassable in the rainy season. Although Malawi is connected by road to South Africa via Mozambique, as well as through Zambia and Zimbabwe, surface travel through Mozambique should not be attempted. Lusaka can be reached in 1 day of driving over tarmac roads, although care must be taken to avoid potholes and rough sections of the road. From Lusaka, it is possible to continue on tarmac road to Victoria Falls, or to South Africa via Harare.

Malawi Railways has about 560 miles of track, primarily intended for freight haulage. Some passenger services are offered, but trains are slow and accommodations are frequently restricted to third class.


Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone service in Malawi is generally satisfactory. Calls can usually be completed between urban centers within the country with a minimum of delay, although occasional outages do occur, particularly in residential areas. Many international call destinations may be reached by direct dial, including the U.S., and service is good. It is more expensive, however, to call the U.S. from Malawi than vice versa. Telegraph service to all areas is adequate.

Radio and TV

Malawi has its own government radio station, and one TV station. Most programs are in the Chichewa language and include few cultural presentations. A good shortwave radio is useful, especially for receiving international news on BBC or VOA.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The Daily Times newspaper is published in English on weekdays with a special edition, the Malawi News, on Saturday; it concentrates on local news. The international editions of Time and Newsweek are available locally. All publications sold in Malawi are subject to local censorship.

Although both Lilongwe and Blantyre have some bookshops, selection is limited, and prices are very high by U.S. standards. A branch of the Malawi National Library is located in Lilongwe; USIS and the British Council also operate small libraries; again, selection is limited.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Medical facilities in Lilongwe are inadequate. There are a few qualified physicians and specialists practicing in Malawi who may be consulted if necessary, but hospitals are not up to U.S. standards.

Local pharmacies carry primarily European or South African drugs, and their supplies are unreliable. Therefore, bring an adequate supply of specifically needed drugs with you. Try to make arrangements through a U.S. physician or pharmacist for replenishing prescriptions.

There is a Seventh-day Adventist clinic in Lilongwe currently staffed by an American dentist and an American optometrist. Their supplies are limited, so bring an extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses and lens care products.

Community Health

Sanitation in Lilongwe, Zomba, and Blantyre is generally good. Food handling in the international hotels and large restaurants appears to be satisfactory. However, foods obtained from the local open markets and supermarkets require special attention to ensure that all edible items are safe for consumption. Water from the Lilongwe water system is treated, but it is recommended that all water used for consumption be filtered and then boiled for 5 minutes.

Preventive Measures

Malaria is endemic to Malawi, and prophylaxis is advised. The Department of State recommends Mefloquine as the first choice for malaria prophylaxis for those persons able to take it. The second choice of prophylaxis is daily Paludrine (proquanil) with weekly Chloroquine. Because no anti-malarial drug prophylaxis can offer total protection, other measures to protect against mosquito bites and the acquisition of malaria are advised. Some of those measures include: remaining in well-screened areas, especially in the evening and at night, use of mosquito nets enclosing the bed while sleeping, and use of insect repellents containing at least 35 percent DEET.

Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) contaminates most freshwater lakes and rivers in Malawi and is contracted by swimming or wading.

Diarrhea is a common symptom, but most cases are noninfectious, self-limiting, and arise from changes in food or water combined with fatigue and the emotional stresses of travel. Cholera rarely occurs in Malawi, except in areas of severe overcrowding and poor sanitation. Typhoid is endemic to Malawi, but epidemics rarely occur. Hepatitis A is also endemic to Malawi and occurs all too frequently in the expatriate community. Although boiling and filtering of water and cleansing of fruit and vegetables decrease the risk of hepatitis A, the most effective method of prevention continues to be gamma globulin injections every 4-6 months.

Insect pests include flies, mosquitoes, ticks (including a "tickbite fever" carrier), termites, moths, cockroaches, ants, and silverfish. Throughout Malawi putze flies lay their eggs in textiles, which can transfer to the skin of the wearer. To avoid skin sores, use a dryer or iron all line-dried linen and clothing.

The following immunizations are recommended for Malawi: Yellow Feverevery 10 years
Typhoidevery 3 years
Tetanus-Diphtheriaevery 10 years
Polioone booster as an adult
Gamma Globulinevery 4-6 months
T.B. testingevery 1 year
Rabiesoptional, advised for small children, series of 3
Hepatitis Binitial series of 3 Meningitis A+Cevery 3 years


All international flights to and from Malawi operate from Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe. Weekly flights are available from Paris, London, and Amsterdam, as well as regional air links with Botswana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, and Kenya. The most frequent flights are from Johannesburg and Harare. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Malawi. However, American Airlines has joined South Africa Airlines in offering three flights a week from the JFK Airport in New York to Johannesburg. This flight complies with the Fly America regulations, as do flights on American carriers from the U.S. with transfers in Europe and South America to foreign-flag carriers that serve Malawi and southern Africa.

Persons entering Malawi must have a valid passport or travel document. Malawi visas are not required for U.S. citizens prior to arrival in Malawi. Those wishing to stay over 90 days must apply for a temporary resident permit. Travelers should, of course, have any required visas for countries they will transit.

An import permit, required for dogs and cats, must be obtained in advance by advising the Embassy of the breed, sex, age, description (color, etc.) and country of export of the pet. A certificate of good health from a veterinarian and a certificate of rabies vaccination should accompany the animal. The dog or cat must be imported directly from the country of origin and not be exposed to infection en route.

Malawi introduced its own decimal currency in February 1971. The units are kwacha and tambala, with one kwacha equaling 100 tambala. The Malawi kwacha (MK) is linked to a "basket" of international currencies to determine base value. As of December 2000, the rate of exchange was about MK 80.09 to US$1. No limitation exists on bringing foreign currency or travelers checks into the country. Malawi has strict currency laws limiting the amount of Malawi currency that may be taken out of the country, although travelers may re-export all currency declared on arrival.

Coins currently in circulation include denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tambala, and a one kwacha coin. Older coins in circulation may carry the marking "one shilling" or "one florin," equal to 10 tambala, and 20 tambala. Notes currently in circulation are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 kwacha.

Credit cards, such as American Express, Mastercard, and Visa are accepted at a few restaurants and hotels, but they are not widely recognized.

Malawi uses the metric system of weights and measures, although many individuals may still quote measures in the older British system (i.e., miles, pounds, etc.).


Jan.1 New Year's Day

Jan. 15 John Chilembwe Day

Mar. (2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day*

Mar. 3 Martyr's Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

May 1 Kamuzu Day

July 6-8 Republic Day

Oct. (2nd Mon) Mother's Day*

Dec. Tree Planting Holiday*

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Alexander, Caroline. Personal History: An Ideal State. The New Yorker: December 16, 1991.

Area Handbook for Malawi. Director, Foreign Areas Studies, The American University.

Carver, R. Where Silence Rules. New York: Africa Watch Com., 1990.

Crowther, Geoff. Africa on a Shoestring. Hawthorne, Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications.

Gulhati, Ravi. Malawi: Promising Reforms, Bad Luck. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1989.

Kalinga, Owen J. A History of the Ngonde Kingdom of Malawi. Hawthorne, NY: Mouton, 1985.

Lane, Martha S.B. Malawi. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1990.

Mtewa, Mekki. Malawi Democratic Theory and Public Policy. Rochester, NY: Schenkman Books, 1986.

O'Toole, Thomas. Malawi in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 1988.

Oliver, Roland. Sir Harry Johnston and the Scramble for Africa. Chatto and Windus: 1964.

Pike, John G. Malawi, A Political and Economic History. Pall Mall Press: 1968.

Pryor, Frederic L. Income Distribution and Economic Development in Malawi: Some Historical Statistics. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1988.

. The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity, and Growth: Malawi & Madagascar. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Ransfield, Oliver. Livingtone's Lake. Camelot Press: 1966.

Rotberg, Robert I. The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1965.

Sanders, Renfield. Malawi. Places& Peoples of the World Series. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Short, Phillip. Banda. Routledge &Kegan: 1974.

Smith, Pachai, and Tangri. Malawi, Past and Present.

Williams, T. David. Malawi: The Politics of Despair. Cornell University Press:New York, 1978.

Young, A.A. A Geography of Malawi. 3d ed. London: Evans Brothers, 1990.

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Republic of Malawi



Malawi is located in southeast Africa, landlocked between Mozambique to the east and south, Zambia to the west, and Tanzania to the north. Malawi is separated from Mozambique and Tanzania to a large extent by Lake Malawi, which lies on the country's eastern edge. The immense extent of this lake (the third largest in Africa), which accounts for 20 percent of Malawi's 118,480 square kilometers (45,745 square miles) of total area, means that despite Malawi's inland location, the country has a sizeable coastal area.

Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania in area, Malawi's long, narrow shape was determined in part by the elongated plateau on which it sits and in part by British imperial whim. Mt. Sipitwa, the country's highest point, reaches 9,850 feet. The capital of Malawi is Lilongwe (pop. 442,000, 1999 est.); other urban centers include Blantyre (pop. 486,000, 1999 est.) and Mzuzu (pop. 88,000, 1999 est.).


A mid-2000 estimate of Malawi's population placed it at 10,385,849. Malawi's demographics, however, are complicated by the AIDS pandemic, which tends radically to skew its statistics. Hence the life expectancy at birth of the average Malawian is a very low 37.58 years. The proportion of the population under age 20 is 57 percent, and infant mortality runs to 122.28 deaths per 1,000, one of the worst in the world (the birth rate is 38.49 per 1,000). Despite a fertility rate of 5.33 children born per Malawian woman, population growth is only 1.61 percent per annum. Not all of this is attributable solely to AIDS, as disease and chronic malnutrition are also major causes of mortality. The scale of AIDS' impact can be understood, however, if Malawi's population figures are set against those, for example, of Madagascar, where the average lifespan is nearly 50 percent longer, the death rate is a mere third as high, and overall population growth is doubled. The United Nations estimated in 1999 that around 16 percent of all Malawians between the ages of 15 and 49 were HIV/AIDS infected. In the same year, the disease claimed 70,000 lives, with urban areas worst affected. The economic fall-out has been disastrous.

With 90 percent of Malawi's population living in rural areas, cities and towns have traditionally played a small part in the nation's life. This, however, is showing signs of changing, and between 1987 and 1998 the urban population grew by 4.7 percent.

Ethnically, Malawi is a tribal federation principally of Chewa, Tumbuka, Yao, and Ngoni peoples, and to a lesser extent Nyanja, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, and Ngonde tribes, as well as various Asian and European groups. The national language (besides English) is Chichewa, with Chitumbuka predominating in the north. Religiously, 55 percent are Protestant, 20 percent Roman Catholic, 20 percent Muslim, with the remainder holding various indigenous beliefs.


One of the least developed countries in the world, Malawi remains fundamentally dependent on international aid, of which it receives about US$400 million annually. Attempts to turn its economy towards greater productivity and self-sufficiency face heavy obstacles at almost every level. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are working with the Malawian government to improve economic growth through a program of privatization and other reforms. But progress will be difficult, due to a variety of problems that plague the country, including inadequate infrastructure and Malawi's dependence on fuel sources such as coal and firewood.

An overwhelmingly agrarian (farm-based) nation, at 44 people per square mile Malawi is also one Africa's most densely populated countries, and pressure to use available land is intense. This has not only led to serious deforestation as new land has been cleared for cultivation, but ever greater subdivision of existing farming plots. In 1986-87 the World Bank calculated 55 percent of rural households survived on less than 1 hectare of land; by 1993, estimates put this number at 78 percent. The consequences have included decreasing incomes and long-term environmental degradation. Since most of Malawi's agricultural income comes from its independent smallholders (individual farmers), this poses a serious problem.

Over-dependence on agriculture also leaves Malawi exposed to the region's erratic rainfall pattern, as well as to fluctuating world markets. Malawi's primary cash crop is tobacco, and without diversification, it will continue to be exposed to changes in the world tobacco market. Growth has therefore been irregular as Malawi's economic fortunes have bounced up and down. Although hitting annual GDP growth levels as high as 10 percent (1995), long-term growth has been considerably slower, averaging 3 percent between 1980 and 2000. Disciplined budget planning is difficult, and the resulting economic instability deters foreign and private-sector investment. Further, the country faces a substantial foreign debt , which continues to hold back efforts at prioritizing infrastructure improvements that are required for Malawi to achieve the 6 percent growth that, according to World Bank estimates, is necessary if poverty levels are to be reduced.


Malawi became a British colony as the protectorate of Nyasaland in 1891. In 1964, after a decade of concerted anti-colonial activity, Malawi was granted its independence. Its prime minister at that time, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, remained the country's leader for the next 30 years, becoming successively president (1966) and president-for-life (1970), as his rule shifted from benign despotism (an authoritarian leader who respects human rights and rules in the best interests of his or her people) to dictatorial repression. Mounting political pressure in the late 1980sleading to widespread strikes, demonstrations, and riots in 1992eventually forced the 89 year-old president to concede elections in 1994, in which he was defeated by Bakili Muluzi, leader of the free-market-promoting United Democratic Front.

The transition from Banda's one-party autocracy to a multi-party democracy has been relatively smooth. Under the U.S.-style 1994 constitution, the president still wields considerable power, appointing the 28-member cabinet and senior judges, but he is kept in check by an independent judiciary and legislature. The presidency and the 193 seats of the National Assembly are decided by direct popular election, and all Malawians over 18 years of age have the right to vote. The basic soundness of the new system was affirmed in 1999 when Malawi successfully conducted its second-ever elections (in which Bakili Muluzi was re-elected).

Nevertheless, Banda's long rule and his authoritarian and eccentric style of government have left a burdensome legacy. Challenges facing Malawi's new government have been to repair the country's strained diplomatic relations with its neighbors (Banda was ostracized in the region for his long-standing support of South African apartheida political and economic system based on the dominance of whites at the expense of African blacks), to restore the badly rundown economy, and to foster confidence in the political system, corrupted by years of Banda intrigue and cronyism. Progress has been slow. Corruption scandals are becoming more frequent, not only undermining the public's faith in democracy, but alienating Malawi's foreign donors.

The Muluzi government, however, is committed to the program of structural reform drawn up by the World Bank and the IMF, which is aimed at poverty reduction and economic growth. In addition to a renewed emphasis on education and health, the program includes tightening fiscal management, opening up domestic markets, privatizing public utilities, reducing the civil service (non-miltary government organizations), and improving conditions and opportunities for smallholder farmers by liberalizing the agricultural sector.

Tax reform has also been targeted, with more emphasis placed on direct taxation , in keeping with Malawi's traditional sources of revenue duties , excises, and levies . But in an economy in which so much of the population lives at subsistence level, and in which so much trade is conducted informally, tapping this source of revenue is very difficult, and the burden of the new tougher stance has tended to fall disproportionately on the private sector.


Malawi's infrastructure is in urgent need of attention. Its road and rail networks are inadequate both in their quality and extent, a problem made more serious by the country's reliance on land transport to compensate for its lack of sea access. While the road system has been expanded by 44 percent since independence in 1964, Malawi's population in the same period has doubled; of its 28,394 kilometers (17,647 miles) of road, only 5,833 kilometers (3,265 miles) are paved (18.5 percent). The poor condition of the roads has contributed to Malawi having one of the worst road accident rates in the world despite its very low car-to-person ratio of 2 per 1,000. Rail, too, is in considerable disrepair, having been very badly affected by Mozambique's long civil war in the 1980s and 1990s, which closed off Malawi's access to the Indian Ocean ports of Nacala and Beira, once the distribution hubs of 95 percent of all Malawian trade. Starved of this traffic, on which it relied heavily, Malawi's national railroad was forced into bankruptcy in 1993. However, the company's sale in 1999 to a U.S.-African consortium is aimed at bringing new investment and reviving services. Malawi has 788 kilometers (490 miles) of track, all of which is narrow gauge.

Malawi has 2 international airportsat Lilongwe and Blantyreand is served by a variety of international carriers. Malawi has 44 total airports, only 5 of which

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Malawi 3 249 2 N/A 1 0.1 N/A 0.00 10
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
Zambia 12 121 137 N/A 1 0.1 N/A 0.48 15
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

have paved runways. Between 100,000 and 200,000 passengers typically pass through each airport annually. The government plans to privatize Air Malawi and the introduction of a second airline is also being discussed.

Malawi's principal source of energyproviding an estimated 90 percent of all its energy needsis wood fuel (firewood and charcoal), about 44 percent of which comes from non-sustainable sources. Demand is growing too, at a rate of some 6 percent per year, placing severe pressure on Malawi's already depleted forests. Electricity generation comes mostly from the 4 hydro-electric power stations on the Shire River begun in 1989. But irregular water flow on the river, especially in the dry season, and problems with silting (build up of sediment) often make power supplies unreliable, a problem particularly damaging to industry. Coal is imported to supplement local production, which because of under-investment is mined below capacity. All petroleum stocks are imported.

Telecommunications is also an underdeveloped sector, with a mere 45,000 landlines, or 1 for every 230 Malawians. There are hopes, however, to triple the number of lines by 2005 with the proceeds of the sale of the state-owned Malawi Telecom in 2001. A cellular system was launched in 1996, and the licensing of more networks is planned. Malawi had 1 Internet service provider as of 1999.


Despite government hopes to expand the country's economic base, Malawi remains overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture, especially its primary cash crop, tobacco. But international movements to discourage cigarette smoking can only hurt this industry further, and its viability as a long-term vehicle of growth is unclear. In 1999 agriculture supplied 38 percent of GDP. Tourism, mining, and manufacturing have also been prioritized, but infrastructure problems make development difficult. Nevertheless, industry accounts for 19.2 percent of GDP (14 percent of this in manufacturing), and services 42.8 percent.


A lush climate and rich soil make Malawi well suited for agriculture, which is central to the country's economy and national life, occupying 86 percent of its workforce, and making up 38 percent of its GDP and 90 percent of its export earnings.

The main staple crop is maize, grown by smallholder farmers mostly at the subsistence level. Production varies, and depending on climate conditions, maize may be imported or exported. Sorghum, millet, pulses, root crops, and fruit are also grown. Another staple, as well as an important source of protein, is fish from Lake Malawi. The fishing industry accounts for about 200,000 jobs, but problems with pollution and over-fishing threaten to reduce yields.

Malawi's commercial farming sector is concentrated on large estates in the south and around Lilongwe. Its main product is tobacco, which typically accounts for between 50 percent and 70 percent of Malawi's export earnings. Formerly held back by government price controls and grower regulations, the liberalization of the industry in the 1990s has seen steady increases in profits for growers and a sharp rise in smallholder tobacco production, making Malawi one of the leading tobacco producers in the world. Nevertheless, the industry as a whole has been hard hit by the drop in world tobacco prices, which has cut tobacco export revenues from US$332 million in 1998 to US$218 million in 2000. As a consequence, Malawi's growers are being encouraged to concentrate on other traditional cash crops, such as tea and sugar, or diversify into new crops, such as paprika, macadamia, citrus fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers. Tea is Malawi's second most important cash crop, and Malawi is Africa's second largest producer of it. In 2000 tea accounted for about 10 percent of exports, or about US$44 million. Sugar is also significant, and made up about 6 percent of exports, or US$27 million.


Although a small and under-developed sector in Malawi, industry is nevertheless an important contributor to the country's GDP. But the burdens it struggles under are substantial. Hampered by the variability of the agricultural sector on which it is based, high transport costs, a small domestic market, and a poorly skilled work-force increasingly undermined by HIV/AIDS, Malawi's industries must also contend with a dependence on imported resources. This dependence largely robs the industrial sector of any benefit from successive depreciations of the kwacha and means Malawi's goods, despite low wage rates, often do not fare well against regional competitors.

The majority of Malawi's industrial activity (85 percent) comes from manufacturing, a sector that in 2000 generated around 14 percent of GDP. Malawian manufacturing is carried out by about 100 companies involved in agricultural processing, textiles, clothing, and footwear production. The concentration of this activity is another legacy of Hastings Banda's accumulation of wealth and power during the 30 years of his rule. The Press Corporation Limited (PCL), founded by Banda, is an example of how this legacy continues to distort Malawi's economic structure. A hugely diverse syndicate of brewing, clothing, oil, pharmaceutical, banking, and agricultural concerns with a total revenue equivalent to about 10 percent of GDP, PCL's monopolies in many industries further undermine competitiveness. Nationalized in 1997, the company is scheduled for dismantling and sale, although few of its assets are likely to attract the necessary interest.

Mining remains small-scale, and Malawi has no precious metals or oil, but ruby mining began in the mid-1990s, with Malawi the only source of rubies in Africa. Malawi also has deposits of bauxite, asbestos, graphite, and uranium. After the establishment in 1985 of a government mines department and a national mining agency to explore the feasibility of exploiting various minerals, bauxite and titanium reserves in the south were singled out for development. Although the supporting infrastructure is weak, some foreign investment has been attracted.



Malawi's ongoing battles against disease, poor sanitation, and infrastructure deficiency make it an unlikely tourist destination. And yet its tropical climate and scenic landscape have seen rapid gains in the industry, with visitor numbers climbing to 215,000 in 1999, a 20 percent increase from 1995. Although visitors do come from Europe and North America, most are South African and Zimbabwean, and most come for Lake Malawi. Efforts are being made to expand facilities and boost numbers, but without the injection of significant investment, there will be little impact. Negative publicity over the presence of the potentially fatal bilharzias bacteria in Lake Malawi and fears that the region may not be safe for travellers have also proved handicaps.


In addition to its central bank, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Malawi has 5 commercial banks. Although newer operators have begun to extend services, the sector remains basic and highly limited, with the 2 largest banks having no foreign shareholders or strategic foreign links. Lack of competition has kept charges high and most lending tends to be to government agencies, to the exclusion of private borrowers. A stock exchange was founded in 1994, and by 2000, there were 8 companies listed on it. But its small size and the absence of a speculative trading culture have kept activity to a minimum, and the exchange has not proved a source of business financing.


Because of Malawi's rural and subsistence-dominated economy, the purchasing power of most Malawians is minimal, hence retailing is sparse. Urban areas are better served, with a variety of small traders selling fabrics, shoes, paper and pens, and imported electrical equipment, and with a large contingent of informal street vendors. Most of the stores are operated by Malawi's minority Asian population, estimated to control of 30 percent of commercial activity.


Malawi's balance of trade has always been precarious. With 90 percent of its receipts coming from agricultural commodities, export accounts are highly sensitive to fluctuations in production levels and shifts in world market prices. Malawi is also vulnerable on its import side. The expense of freighting all of its imports overland is a continual drain (adding as much as 30

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Malawi
Exports Imports
1975 .140 .253
1980 .295 .439
1985 .249 .285
1990 .417 .581
1995 .405 .475
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

percent to the import bill), while droughts, which periodically force the government to mass-import basic foods, are a regular source of balance-of-trade shortfalls. Additional problems stem from Malawi's complete dependence on imported oil, which has caused particular difficulty as oil prices have risen. The net effect, despite government prioritization of a balanced budget, is a pattern of significant trade deficits. In 1999, however, the shortfall was only $2 million on exports of $510 million and imports of $512 million.

Of Malawi's exports in 1999, 15 percent went to South Africa, 9 percent each to the United States and Germany, and 7 percent to the Netherlands. Of Malawi's imports, 38 percent came from South Africa, 18 percent from Zimbabwe, 8 percent from Zambia, and 4 percent from Japan.

In 2000, Malawi joined 8 other African nations in the free-trade area of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Having removed its 30 percent import duty on goods from those 8 countries, it plans to remove all trade barriers by 2004. Free movement of labor and residency is scheduled for 2014, with full monetary union and a common central bank by 2025.


Malawi's heavy trade imbalance is the source of its consistently high deficits and mounting debt. By the end of 1999 Malawi's total external debt stood at US$2.6 billion, a rise of 86 percent from the previous decade. Servicing this debt cost Malawi US$105 million in 1999, cutting drastically into the government's available funds for social services and development, and further widening the budget and balance-of-payments gaps. The instability that such over-runs cause in the Malawian economy has seen the value of the kwacha tumble and inflation soar. Riding at 45 percent in 1999, inflation is expected to remain above 30 percent until mid-2001, dropping to a hoped-for 15 percent by 2002. The kwacha is also expected to stabilize after a long period of freefall

Exchange rates: Malawi
Malawian kwachas (MK) per US$1
Dec 2000 80.0946
2000 59.5438
1999 44.0881
1998 31.0727
1997 16.4442
1996 15.3085
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

since its floating in 1994. From around MK15 per U.S. dollar in 1995, the rate dropped to MK43 in 1998 and MK80 in 2000; forecasts are for around for MK106 in 2002. Reducing the deficit and attacking the debt are top priorities for the government.


Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, its poverty severe and deeply-rooted. According to the 1998 census, 78 percent of the economically-active population were subsistence farmers . Even by African standards, the plight of these farmers is grave, with literacy low, access to water and sanitation poor, and disease and malnutrition endemic. Malawi's National Economic Council estimated in 2000 that 65.3 percent of Malawians were below the poverty line, "unable to meet their basic needs."

Yet Malawi also has pockets of considerable wealth. The Banda regime's policy in the 1970s and 1980s of large-scale agricultural and industrial development focused government resources on commercial enterprises. This consolidated the country's tiny political-entrepreneurial elite and further widened the gulf between it and Malawi's subsistence sector. Post-Banda politics are more open, but the political class remains smallPresident Muluzi, for example, was a former cabinet minister of Banda'sand recent corruption scandals suggest that patronage and favoritism are still inherent in the system.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Malawi 157 169 161 152 166
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
Zambia 641 551 483 450 388
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Malawi 50 13 7 2 6 9 13
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Dem. Rep. of Congo N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zambia 52 10 8 2 11 3 14
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Attempts to equalize the economic imbalance include the establishment the Land Reform Commission in 1996. The commission's report, issued in 1999, has recommended the replacement of freehold land ownership with 99-year leases, and the return of customary land from government control to tribal chiefs. A US$25 million land redistribution scheme was begun in 2001, which aims to resettle between 17,000 and 21,000 people on 14,000 hectares of land.


Malawi's workforce numbers around 3.5 million, but most of these are subsistence farmers. Given the informality of most employment, it is impossible even to estimate unemployment and underemployment rates in the country. The proportion of wage and salary earners is a low 14 percent, and threatens to fall further as civil service down-sizing and privatization lay-offs take effect.

Growth and job creation are severely hindered by poor standards of education and low literacy levels. Only 58 percent of the adult population is able to read and write, and only 4.5 percent of primary school children advance to secondary level, a figure low even by the standards of Malawi's neighbors. The Muluzi government is committed to improving education, but the massive increases in enrollments it has spurred (in particular by removing school fees in 1994) have swamped the schools and eroded educational quality. The result is a workforce poorly adapted to most industrial and manufacturing jobs, and unsuited even for certain types of commercial farming.

Disease is another significant problem, intensified by the over-loading of the health system by the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 1999-2000 government spending on health care accounted for 2.8 percent of GDPor US$5 spent per Malawiana level which was radically insufficient. Poor sanitation (only 45 percent of the population has access to clean water) and malnutrition are also fundamental problems, and until they can be properly addressedwhich will only be done with foreign helpthe productivity of the Malawian workforce will remain badly crippled.


1891. The British establish Malawi, then called Nyasaland, as a protectorate.

1953. Formation of the Central African Federation of Nyasaland and Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively).

1962. Hastings Kamuzu Banda becomes prime minister.

1963. Malawi leaves the Central African Federation.

1964. Malawi gains independence from Britain.

1966. Malawi becomes a republic.

1970. Hastings Banda declared president-for-life.

1994. A new democratic, pluralistic Malawian constitution enacted (based on the U.S. Constitution); multi-party elections held for the first time; Bakili Muzuli ousts Hastings Banda.

1999. Bakili Muzuli re-elected as president in second free elections.


Although Malawi has made important strides towards political openness and economic reform, its future remains troubled. Progress has been painfully slow, marred by corruption scandals in the government, and punctuated by economic crises that have upset the reform process. Finding itself in a delicate situation, the government is obliged to impose tough austerity measures to satisfy donors, but knows that doing so will carry a heavy political cost at home. Regionally, too, the uncertainty that Malawi faces with Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola in various stages of turmoilwill require careful negotiation. However, despite some voter disenchantment, the transition to democracy (still ongoing) has been smooth, and Malawi's political situation is secure. The government has established an Anti-Corruption Bureau to ensure tighter standards of accountability, and launched its "ten point" plan in 2000, promising more consistent adherence to reform measures. If agricultural yields continue to be good, if international aid donors continue to offer their support, and if the Malawian government continues to prioritize poverty reduction, Malawi's economic future holds some promise of hope.


Malawi has no territories or colonies.


Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Malawi. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Report: Malawi. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2001.

Harrigan, J. From Dictatorship to Democracy. Aldershot, UnitedKingdom: Ashgate Publishing, 2000.

Lwanda, John Lloyd. Promises, Power Politics, and Poverty: Democratic Transition in Malawi (1961 to 1999). Glasgow, Scotland: Dudu Nsomba Publications, 1996.

Mkandawire, P. Thandika. Agriculture, Employment, and Poverty in Malawi. Geneva: International Labour Organization, 1999.

National Statistics Office of Malawi. The Web Site of Malawi Official Statistics. <>. Accessed March 2001.

Towards Vision 2020: United Nations Development Assistance for Poverty Eradication in Malawi. Lilongwe: The Framework, 1998.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed July 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Country Commercial Guide, FY 2001: Malawi. <>. Accessed March 2001.

World Bank Group. Countries: Malawi. <>. Accessed March 2001.

Alexander Schubert




Malawian kwacha (MK). One kwacha equals 100 tambala. Paper currency includes MK5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. Coins come in denominations of MK1, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tambala.


Tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products.


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


US$9.4 billion (1999 est.).


Exports: US$510 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$512 million (1998 est.).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Malawi
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 10,548,250
Language(s): English, Chichewa
Literacy rate: 58.0%
Area: 118,480 sq km
GDP: 1,697 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 1
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 100
Number of Radio Stations: 16
Number of Radio Receivers: 2,600,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 246.5
Number of Individuals with Computers: 12,000
Computers per 1,000: 1.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 15,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 1.4

Background & General Characteristics

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The main towns are Blantyre (pop. 350,000), Lilongwe (250,000), Mzuzu (80,000) and Zomba (70,000). Malawi's economy is based on its agriculture, which accounts for 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 90 percent of export revenues and 90 percent of rural employment. Malawi gained its independence in 1964 from Great Britain and until 1993 the country remained under the authoritarian rule of Dr. Kamuzu Banda. In May 1994, President Banda lost the presidential election to the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi was re-elected in 1999 to serve another five-year term as president in the country's new democracy. Malawi has eleven ethnic groups, namely Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, and European. The official languages are English and Chichewa, but there are other regional dialects. The World Bank estimated that Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world.

From independence in 1964 to 1992, the only sources of news in Malawi were two newspapers (Daily Times and the weekly Malawi News ), put out by the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and the Malawi News Agency. During that time, there was no constitutional provision for freedom of expression or of the press. The news media was pro-government and pro-Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the ruling party. Since 1994, the situation has changed. As of 2002, Malawi had 11 independent newspapers: two dailiesThe Nation and Daily Times ; seven weekliesNew Vision, Weekly Chronicle, StatesmanMalawi NewsWeekend Nation,Enquirer, and UDF News ; one government-owned biweeklyWeekly News ; one privately owned weekly paper, The People's Eye ; and finally, The Mirror, published four times a week. There is no Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) in Malawi to certify the sizes of circulation for newspapers and magazines (Fumulani). Newspapers circulate in urban areas, which have about 10 percent of the country's population, while only a few trickle to the rural areas. The World Bank reports that daily newspaper circulation in Malawi is 3 per 1,000 people.

Economic Framework

After 30 years of one-party rule, Malawi became a multi-party democracy. The political transition was smooth in 1994, but the results of the presidential elections of July 1999, which returned Muluzi as president, have been continually contested, and genuine democratic processes have not yet fully taken root. The mass media is still government-controlled and trade unions have limited power.

Malawian economy prospered in the 1970s with the assistance of foreign aid and investment and grew at an annual rate of 6 percent. This growth did not, however, spur broad-based economic development. In 2002, agriculture remained the basis of Malawi's economy, contributing 40 percent of GDP and 90 percent of rural employment, while tobacco, the main cash crop, accounted for more than two-thirds of exports. Malawi's limited natural-resource base, combined with poor physical and financial infrastructure, a slow-moving bureaucracy and rising crime, has made it less able to attract foreign investment. Thus, Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 159 out of 162 countries on the United Nations' UNDP Human Development Index (HDI ). Malawi's poverty headcount (percent below poverty line) was 66 percent in 1998 (World Bank).

There is a willingness on the part of many journalists to disseminate information and offer the Malawian public an alternative but the media face a number of constraints such as the practical problems of sourcing newsprint; the costs of printing; the weak production infrastructure; unfavorable finance and tax arrangements; indifference or hostility to emerging media; lack of spare parts, supplies and advertising; and high taxes on equipment (Banda).

The economy itself is not stable: the inflation rate grew from 9 percent in 1997 to 30 percent in 2000, increasing printing costs. Newspapers were priced higher in order to recover these costs, ultimately two or even three times the original cost. The adverse effect was that many readers ended up not buying any newspaper. Another problem that affects media owners is the ever-increasing costs of newsprint. One newspaper owner explained that it was difficult for many newspapers to survive economically, but they managed probably because they had committed teams who made great sacrifices. At one time they relied on family members to assist with loans since local banks saw media as bad business. Only newspaper companies that have political backing and have enough financial resources remain in the media market.

Radio in Malawi, the most effective form of media, reaches nearly 90 percent of the population of 11.3 million. However the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) dominates radio broadcasting. Newspapers only circulate in towns while a few trickle to the rural areas.

Press Laws

In 1994, Malawi said goodbye to dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda when Bakili Muluzi defeated Banda in the country's first democratic elections since its gaining independence from Britain in 1964. When Malawi became a multi-party democracy in 1994, the government guaranteed freedom of the press in the new constitution that superseded old laws restricting the press and now provided for freedom of speech and press. Although the new Malawian law maintained that "the press shall have the right to report and publish freely within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information," practice did not always correspond to principle. Some restrictive laws have remained in place. The Official Secrets Act, for instance, makes it an offense to publish or communicate "any secret official code, work, sketch, plan, article or other document that could be useful to the enemy." Thus any journalist reporting on security issues runs the risk of committing offense. Further, it is an offense to write with the intent of wounding the religious feelings of others or to produce, print, publish, import, possess, or circulate matter that is considered obscene. Libel is also a crime in Malawi, and according to one Malawi Broadcasting Company worker, "A mere negative joke about the ruling party can cost someone a job here." Under the 1994 Communications Act, MBC was subject to the discretion of the controlling government minister regarding its content, and the minister was empowered to require MBC or any private broadcasterto broadcast certain materials or prohibit broadcasts that would be contrary to public interest.

In November, 1998, Parliament passed a new Communications Act, which for the first time established an independent regulatory body for broadcasting and telecommunications: the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA). This Act replaced the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Act and the Radio-communications Act of 1994. The newly established MACRA, an independent body, was charged with ensuring "reliable and affordable communication services" throughout the country. Under the bill, MACRA is responsible for protecting the interests of consumers, promoting open access to information, promoting competition, and providing training in communication services. It is also required to be independent and impartial while doing so. In regards to broadcast media, MACRA is also responsible for ensuring regular news programming on issues of public interest, supporting the democratic process through civic education, promoting a diverse range of national and local broadcasting and ensuring equal treatment in elections. The passing of a new communications bill gave a ray of hope to Malawian journalists.

Whether the bill has had any positive impact on the environment is still unknown, especially in regards to ensuring equal access and treatment among the political opposition. In March 2000, the UK-based organization Article 19 unveiled evidence of media manipulation during the 1999 presidential election campaign, identifying two misinformation teams that helped the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party use illegal advertisements and fabricate news reports to ensure re-election. The report also contended that during the 1999 election campaign, the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation ran live coverage of only President Muluzi's political rallies.


During the Banda regime there was no such thing as press freedom; journalists lived in fear and constantly had to self-monitoring their writing. The government maintained control of the press with the Prohibited Publications Act. This Act allowed the government to ban any publication that it considered false or critical of Malawi (Banda). No outside journalists were allowed into the country at this time.

President Bakili Muluzi's government came into power promising an end to censorship and other human rights abuses. In 1995 a new constitution was put together after Banda was voted out of power by the United Democratic Front. The constitution had articles covering the following topics: 1) The protection of free expression; 2) The protection of free opinion; 3) The right to have access to information and 4) The freedom of the press. However, Muluzi's new democracy failed to ensure full press freedom. A 30-year legacy of self-censorship among journalists remained strong, and many preexisting laws remained in conflict with the new democratic provisions (Cooney). Government officials continued to issue negative statements against the media. Muluzi threatened through the overzealous offices of his press assistants to take several journalists to court on civil defamation charges.

Just before the 1999 elections and soon after that, there were incidents of open threats by politicians to dismiss from the civil service and statutory organizations any media practitioner deemed to be supporting the opposition or leaking information to the press. Journalists had been detained for short periods of time since the 1994 election. The editor of the main opposition newspaper, the Daily Times, was suspended in 2000 by the editor-in-chief and subsequently replaced by an acting editor more inclined to refrain from publishing articles critical of the government. The government continued to threaten and harass members of the media. The Daily News offices were raided by the army because of an article they published stating that AIDS percentages were higher in the army than the civilian population. On several occasions, politicians have threatened to take newspapers and their reporters to court. In late 2001, the Chronicle was fined a total of over US$37,000 by the courts in lawsuits, one involving a case in which the newspaper speculated on possible misconduct by a minister in his work.

State-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is the most important medium for reaching the public. MBC programming was dominated by reporting on the activities of senior government figures and official government positions. Parties and groups opposed to the government largely were denied access to the broadcast media. MBC reporters were disciplined or fired for their reporting on opposition parties. News stories were pulled in midbroadcast and press conferences heavily edited to avoid dispersing politically sensitive material. MBC refused to air paid public announcements of labor union events.

State-Press Relations

There are now a number of private newspapers in Malawi, including some owned by political parties or openly affiliated with them. Publishers are not required to register with the state, although the Minister of Information does give accreditation to journalists. After 1994, for the first time, there were more than 20 newspapers in Malawi. Many independent newspapers that were established did not survive for more than two years. Major reasons cited by most publishers were poor financing, high newsprint and printing costs, poor skills in managing a newspaper business, and lack of trained newsroom staff. The following newspapers were short-lived: The New Voice, The WatchersThe MalawianMichiru SunCity Star , Financial ObserverWeekly MailNews TodayThe Herald, New ExpressDaily Monitor, and The Democrat, which collapsed in 1996. The Independent and The Star were phased out in 1999 because of lack of support from influential politicians. Four of the newspapers, The Malawi News and The Daily Times (both owned by the late president Banda's business empire), and the Nation and Weekend Nation (owned by Aleke Banda, the country's agriculture minister and first vice president of the ruling UDF) have remained the strongest players with a reasonable impact on the market. The Mirror (owned by Brown Mpinganjira, the country's foreign minister and prominent personality in Muluzi's UDF) has survived the turbulent times in the newspaper publishing industry.

Government has also stretched its arm to suffocate the private media by banning government advertising in the Daily Times and the Malawi News, Malawi's strongest opposition newspapers. Government is the biggest advertiser in the country, and advertising is the major source of revenue for all newspapers in the country. The ban occurred after the independents The Daily Times andMalawi News published critical coverage of government mismanagement and corruption. Journalists for private publications are said to face "constant harassment" from the state, and many journalists use pseudonyms (Banda).

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Under the dictatorship government of President Banda, no foreign journalists were allowed into the country at all. After the first democratic government in Malawi, foreign correspondents had free access to Malawian affairs. However, it would appear that supporters of the government are extremely sensitive to foreign reports about Malawi. Banning or jailing of foreign correspondents by the Malawian government has not been an issue. Visitors from the following countries are not required to have visas: United States, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Belgium. Visitors from the following countries are required to carry visas that expire after three months: Algeria, Angola, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Russia and other Eastern European Countries, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, and Zaire.

Foreign ownership of Malawian press is discouraged. Business may be conducted by individuals, partnerships, trusts, Malawian companies, branches of foreign companies, or through joint ventures, i.e., foreign and Malawi owned. A branch of a foreign company must have at least one Malawian resident as its director.

News Agencies

The oldest news agency, the Malawi News Agency (Mana), has its head office in Blantyre and offices in Mwanza and Mzuzu. The other news agencies, Daily Times and Weekly Malawi News, are both located in Blantyre. One foreign news bureau is located in Blantyre, Agence France-Presse (France).

The biggest printing press, Blantyre Print and Publishing, belongs to the business empire of the late president Kamuzu Banda. It prints both newspapers and books. This press has been in existence since 1962 when Banda bought it from the Paver brothers who sold Banda both the press and the Nyasaland Times (forerunner to theDaily Times ). The other major printing press in the newspaper sector is owned by Aleke Banda's Nation Publications, Ltd. Besides these, there is a chain of small printers dotted around the country, most of them owned by Indian business tycoons.

Broadcast Media

As part of the previous regime's control of the air-waves, television broadcasting was banned until 1994. Prior to 1994, Malawi had a single state-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio station, which covered the whole country, and a small private religious broadcaster that had a radius of 20 kilometers (km) from the capital, Lilongwe. Today Malawi has two government controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio stations, two commercial stations broadcasting in Blantyre, a community radio station in Monkey Bay, a private training-commercial radio station, three religious stations, and seven private radio stations. As of 1999, there were 2.6 million radios in Malawi. The state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) dominates the radio market with its two stations, transmitting in major population centers throughout the country. News coverage and editorial content clearly are pro-government. Radio in Malawi reaches nearly 90 percent of the 11.3 million people living there. Only one television station exists in the country, the state-controlled Television Malawi (TVM), which was established in 1998. Fewer than 100,000 of Malawi's 11.3 million people own television sets.

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation has a two-channel radio network currently broadcasting for 19 hours for Radio 1 and 24 hours for Radio 2 each day. Radio 1 broadcasts in English, Chichewa, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, and Tonga. Broadcasts are available on medium wave, short wave, and FM frequencies. Radio 2 broadcasts in English and Chichewa on FM stereo. The news coverage of these two stations is basically the same. The first private station, FM101, broadcasting to a radius of about 70 km from Blantyre, began operating in 1998. The second privately run station, Capital Radio 102.5, also based in Blantyre and reaching an area of 60 km around the city, took to the airwaves in 1999. The two stations concentrate mostly on musical and entertainment programs.

The government-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation still dominates radio broadcasting in Malawi. All new stations that wish to establish a radio station have to get a license from MACRA, which is responsible for regulating the provision of broadcasting, licensing of broadcasting providers and planning and allocating the use of the frequency spectrum. MACRA has the discretion to limit foreign ownership of companies receiving licenses and to limit the proportion of airtime devoted to advertising, provided that such limitations are applied equitably.

According to the new Communications Act of 1998, the MBC must operate without political bias and independent of any political party. It must support the democratic process, refrain from broadcasting any matter expressing its own opinion on current affairs, provide balanced election coverage, and have regard for the public interest. Licensing of private broadcasting before 1998 was the responsibility of the postmaster-general, who was a senior civil servant within the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Posts and Telecommunications. Since no criteria or procedure existed for licensing in broadcasting, in practice the minister had all the power. The new bill, by contrast, established clear criteria and a formal procedure for issuing licenses in all areas, as well as establishing an independent body to oversee them.

The single television station in the country, the state-controlled Television Malawi (TVM), is a public broadcaster, its goal to "foster unity and development [and to] provide civic education and information." The station broadcasts about 55 hours per week, with about 10 hours of local content. Because TVM has a limited number of cameras, local broadcasting is extremely difficult, and much of the station's material is obtained through relay (rebroadcasting) agreements with outside stations such as Deutsche Welle, BBC and TV Africa. Satellite TV, carrying such stations as CNN, BBC, and South Africa's Mnet, is available to those who can afford sets, decoders, and satellite dishes. Fewer than 100,000 of Malawi's 11 million people own television sets.

With no private companies to make commercials and only a small TV market, TVM has had many financial problems. In spite of that, however, TVM announced in March 2000 its plans to extend coverage to 100 percent of the country by year's end. As of 2002, however, the station reached only about 70 percent of the country.

Electronic News Media

MalawiNet, the main Internet Service Provider (ISP), was established in 1997 as the only commercial Internet Service Provider. MalawiNet is jointly owned by ComNet of USA (42 percent), Malawi Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (MPTC) (38 percent), and Bj Trust of Malawi (20 percent). The MPTC later liberalized the market, allowing private ISPs to obtain their own connections, either via MalawiNet's POPs in Lilongwe or Blantyre or via a direct international link from MPTC. At the end of 2001, Malawi had 8 ISPs. News organizations in Malawi cannot afford publishing through the Internet because of limited resources. Only The Nation has an Internet site that publishes their news:

Education & TRAINING

The Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, offers undergraduate studies in journalism. The Malawi Institute of Journalism, an affiliate of the University of Malawi, was established in 1996. The institute offers diploma and certificate courses in journalism. A number of private schools run by professional journalists were also opened in the late 1990s. Among these are Pen Point School of Journalism, Norman Communications Centre, and Grefa Communications.

Major media organizations and associations are the Journalists' Association of Malawi, the Malawi Media Women's Association, the Media Council of Malawi and a chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). The MAMWA has played a major role in attracting a female audience to radio. One of MAMWA's significant achievements is the Dzimwe Community Radio Station in Monkey-Bay District, which was licensed in 1997. The station covers a radius of 95 kms and reaches 3.2 million listeners. Mindful of the fact that most people within this community live below the poverty line and cannot afford radios and batteries, MAMWA asked them to form listening clubs in order to increase access to radio sets. Radio listeners clubs are set by women media professionals who organize rural women into groups that meet once a week to debate a theme that directly affects their lives. The discussions are recorded and presented to government officials, community authorities, and representatives of non-governmental organizations for replies that are also recorded. Discussions and replies are broadcasted by the Dzimwe Community Radio Station.

In May 2002, Malawi's largest daily newspaper, The Nation, underwrote a new national Young Sports Journalism Award as part of an initiative to identify and develop new sports writers. The competition is designed for practicing junior journalists but is also open to anyone who aspires to the field.


The autocratic, repressive Banda regime prior to 1994 crippled Malawi's media. The country's democratic government, voted into power in 1994, caused some exciting developments in the media industry between 1994 and the close of the century. From the single state-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which covered the whole country, and a small private religious broadcaster with a radius of 20 km from the capital, Lilongwe, Malawi had as of 2002 two private stations based in Blantyre, a community radio station in Monkey Bay, and a second FM channel on MBC, called Radio 2. From two state owned newspapers in 1994, the country has experienced a bloom of new independent newspapers. The poor state of the Malawian economy and the deplorable attitude of most reporters and editors who refuse to stick to the ethics of the profession remain serious problems facing media development in Malawi. These are aggravated by the fact that most of the newspapers in the country, including the two dailies, are owned by politicians and lack independent editorial judgment and policies. Bakili Muluzi has improved things in the media, but there is still a hint of the autocratic system in the air especially in the manner with which the media are dealt. It is hoped that Malawi will move to a more independent broadcast media and greater autonomy for the MBC as a public broadcaster.

Significant Dates

  • 1994: Malawi became a multi-party democracy, the first government guaranteed freedom of the press in the new democratic constitution.
  • 1998: The state-controlled Television Malawi (TVM) was established.
  • 1998: Parliament passed a new Communications Act, which for the first time established an independent regulatory body for broadcasting and telecommunications: the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).


Banda, Zeria. "The Malawi News Media," Master's thesis, Ball State University, Indiana, 1998.

Cooney Brendan. Malawi Media Report. Grahamstown, South Africa: Rhodes University, 2001.

Reporters Without Borders. Malawi: Annual report 2002. Available from

USAID. USAID's Program in Malawi, 2002. Available from

World Bank. World Development Indicators, 2000. CDRom, World Bank, Washington, DC.

Gladys Mutangadura

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Malawi (məlä´wē), officially Republic of Malawi, republic (2005 est. pop. 12,159,000), 45,200 sq mi (117,068 sq km), E central Africa. It borders on Zambia in the west, on Tanzania in the north, and on Mozambique in the east, south, and southwest. The capital is Lilongwe; Blantyre is its largest city and commercial capital.

Land and People

Malawi is long and narrow, and about 20% of its total area is made up of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi). Several rivers flow into Lake Nyasa from the west, and the Shire River (a tributary of the Zambezi) drains the lake in the south. Both the lake and the Shire lie within the Great Rift Valley. Much of the rest of the country is made up of a plateau that averages 2,500 to 4,500 ft (762–1,372 m) in height, but reaches elevations of c.8,000 ft (2,440 m) in the north and almost 10,000 ft (3,050 m) in the south. In addition to the capital and Blantyre, other cities include Mzuzu and Zomba.

Almost all of the country's inhabitants are Bantu-speakers, and about 90% are rural agriculturalists. The Tumbuka, Ngoni, and Tonga (in the north) and the Chewa, Yao, Nguru, and Nyanja (in the center and south) are the main subgroups. About 80% of the population is Christian (mostly Presbyterian and Roman Catholic), and roughly 13% is Muslim; others follow traditional beliefs. Chichewa, spoken by about 60% of the people, is the official language; other languages have regional importance.


Malawi is among the world's least developed countries, with most of the population involved in subsistence agriculture. The principal crops are corn, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses, peanuts, and macadamia nuts. Tobacco, tea, sugarcane, cotton, and tung oil are produced on large estates; tobacco grown for export is particularly import to the economy. With the aid in part of foreign investment, Malawi has instituted a variety of agricultural development programs. Large numbers of cattle, goats, poultry, and pigs are raised.

There are small fishing and forest products industries. Deforestation has become a problem as the growing population uses more wood (the major energy source) and woodland is cleared for farms. Practically no minerals are extracted, but there are unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite. Malawi's industry is limited to the processing of tobacco, tea, sugar, and lumber and the manufacture of basic comsumer goods.

Leading imports are foodstuffs, petroleum products, manufactured consumer goods, and transportation equipment; the principal exports are tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, and apparel. The chief trade partners are South Africa, the United States, and Mozambique. Most of the country's foreign trade is conducted via Salima, a port on Lake Nyasa, which is connected by rail with the seaport of Nacala in Mozambique.


Malawi is governed under the constitution of 1994. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The unicameral legislature consists of the 193-seat National Assembly, whose members are also elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Administratively, Malawi is divided into 27 districts.


Early History and Colonialism

The first inhabitants of present-day Malawi were probably related to the San (Bushmen). Between the 1st and 4th cent. AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to present-day Malawi. A new wave of Bantu-speaking peoples arrived around the 14th cent., and they soon coalesced into the Maravi kingdom (late 15th–late 18th cent.), centered in the Shire River valley. In the 18th cent. the kingdom conquered portions of modern Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, shortly thereafter it declined as a result of internal rivalries and incursions by the Yao, who sold their Malawi captives as slaves to Arab and Swahili merchants living on the Indian Ocean coast. In the 1840s the region was thrown into further turmoil by the arrival from S Africa of the warlike Ngoni.

In 1859, David Livingstone, the Scots explorer, visited Lake Nyasa and drew European attention to the effects of the slave trade there; in 1873 two Presbyterian missionary societies established bases in the region. Missionary activity, the threat of Portuguese annexation, and the influence of Cecil Rhodes led Great Britain to send a consul to the area in 1883 and to proclaim the Shire Highlands Protectorate in 1889. In 1891 the British Central African Protectorate (known from 1907 until 1964 as Nyasaland), which included most of present-day Malawi, was established. During the 1890s, British forces ended the slave trade in the protectorate. At the same time, Europeans established coffee-growing estates in the Shire region, worked by Africans. In 1915 a small-scale revolt against British rule was easily suppressed, but it was an inspiration to other Africans intent on ending foreign domination.

In 1944 the protectorate's first political movement, the moderate Nyasaland African Congress, was formed, and in 1949 the government admitted the first Africans to the legislative council. In 1953 the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (linking Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, and Southern Rhodesia) was formed, over the strong opposition of Nyasaland's African population, who feared that the more aggressively white-oriented policies of Southern Rhodesia (see Zimbabwe) would eventually be applied to them.

The Banda Regime and Modern Malawi

In the mid-1950s the congress, headed by H. B. M. Chipembere and Kanyama Chiume, became more radical. In 1958, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda became the leader of the movement, which was renamed the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in 1959. Banda organized protests against British rule that led to the declaration of a state of emergency in 1959–60. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was ended in 1963, and on July 6, 1964, Nyasaland became independent as Malawi.

Banda led the country in the era of independence, first as prime minister and, after Malawi became a republic in 1966, as president; he was made president for life in 1971. He quickly alienated other leaders by governing autocratically, by allowing Europeans to retain considerable influence within the country, and by refusing to oppose white-minority rule in South Africa. Banda crushed a revolt led by Chipembere in 1965 and one led by Yatuta Chisiza in 1967.

Arguing that the country's economic well-being depended on friendly relations with the white-run government in South Africa, Banda established diplomatic ties between Malawi and South Africa in 1967. In 1970, Prime Minister B. J. Vorster of South Africa visited Malawi, and in 1971 Banda became the first head of an independent black African nation to visit South Africa. This relationship drew heavy public criticism. Nonetheless, Malawi enjoyed considerable economic prosperity in the 1970s, attributable in large part to foreign investment.

Throughout the decade, Malawi became a refuge for antigovernment rebels from neighboring Mozambique, causing tension between the two nations, as did the influx (in the late 1980s) of more than 600,000 civil war refugees, prompting Mozambique to close its border. The border closure forced Malawi to use South African ports at great expense. In the face of intense speculation over Banda's successor, he began to eliminate powerful officials through expulsions and possibly assassinations.

In 1992, Malawi suffered the worst drought of the century. That same year there were violent protests against Banda's rule, and Western nations suspended aid to the country. In a 1993 referendum Malawians voted for an end to one-party rule, and parliament passed legislation establishing a multiparty democracy and abolishing the life presidency. In a free election in 1994, Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi, his former political protégé, who called for a policy of national reconciliation. Muluzi formed a coalition cabinet, with members from his own United Democratic Front (UDF) and the rival Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). Disillusioned with the coalition, AFORD pulled out of the government in 1996. When Muluzi was reelected in 1999, AFORD joined the MCP in an unsuccessful court challenge of his election.

In 2002, Muluzi began a campaign to have the constitution changed so he could run for a third term, but the move sparked political and popular opposition and was abandoned the next year. In late 2003, AFORD again formed an alliance with the UDF. Aided by a split in the opposition, the UDF candidate, Bingu wa Mutharika, won the 2004 presidential election. The UDF, however, failed to win even a plurality in parliament, but Mutharika formed a majority coalition with independents and the small National Democratic Alliance.

Mutharika launched an anticorruption campaign that alienated many in the UDF, including former president Muluzi, and in 2005 Mutharika left the UDF and established the Democratic Progressive party (DPP). Mutharika subsequently faced abortive attempts by the UDF to impeach him. A crop failure in 2005 resulted in a drastic food shortage in the country and high food prices, and led to new policies designed to increase agricultural production.

In Feb., 2006, the president dismissed Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, a Muluzi ally, but Chilumpha appealed the dismissal to Malawi's high court, on the grounds that only parliament could remove him. In March, the court suspended the dismissal pending its decision. The next month, however, the vice president was arrested and charged with treason. In July, former president Muluzi was arrested on corruption charges, but the charges were dropped a month later. A high court panel ruled in Dec., 2006, that the president did not have the right to dismiss the vice president. Subsequently, President Mutharika, in his 2007 New Year's message, accused opposition parties and the judiciary of dividing the nation; he also accused the judiciary of bias against the government. Relations between the president and opposition parties were acrimonious into 2008; in May, 2008, the government charged several opposition figures with plotting a coup.

Mutharika was reelected by a landslide in the May, 2009, elections; the DPP won a majority in parliament as well. His main opponent, John Tembo of the Malawi Congress party, accused the DPP of rigging the election; international observers said the president had monopolized state media coverage of the campaign. Muluzi, who had sought to run but was barred, supported Tembo. In July, 2011, economic problems and the government's increasing intolerance for criticism and dissent led to demonstrations that were bloodily suppressed by the police; the use of violence renewed local unhappiness with Mutharika and led to international criticism and some suspension of aid.

Mutharika died in Apr., 2012, and was succeeded by his vice president, Joyce Banda. Banda had become critical of Mutharika and had been expelled from the DPP; Mutharika's attempts to remove her as vice president had been unsuccessful. (In Mar., 2013, a number of DPP officials including Peter Mutharika, the president's brother, were charged with treason for allegedly seeking to prevent Banda from succeeding to the presidency.) Banda instituted austerity policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund, which initially led to increased inflation in the country. The measures were designed in part to restore needed international aid.

In Sept., 2013, the shooting of the country's budget director led to the discovery of the Cashgate scandal, involving the theft of millions of dollars of government funds by more than 60 suspects; the budget director was believed to have been targeted because of his opposition to such looting. Banda reshuffled her cabinet as result, dismissing her finance minister. In the May, 2014, presidential election, Banda, hurt by the Cashgate scandal, placed third; Peter Mutharika won with 36% of the vote. Alleging vote fraud, Banda sought unsuccessfully to have the vote count suspended. No party won a majority in parliament. The DPP narrowly won the largest number of seats (50) but an even larger number of independents were elected. The treason charge and related charges against Mutharika were discontinued after his election. Flooding in Malawi in Jan., 2015, left some 230,000 people displaced and affected more than twice that number; roughly half the country was declared a disaster area. Malawi suffers from a high AIDS infection rate, with roughly one seventh of the population affected.


See R. I. Rotberg, The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa (1966); J. G. Pike, Malawi (1968); B. Pachai, The Early History of Malawi (1972); M. Chanock, Law, Custom, and Social Order: The Colonial Experiences in Malawi and Zambia (1985); R. Sanders, Malawi (1988).

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Official name: Republic of Malawi

Area: 118,480 square kilometers (45,745 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Mulanje (3,002 meters/9,849 feet)

Lowest point on land: Shire River at the Mozambique border (37 meters/121 feet)

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 257 kilometers (160 miles) from east to west; 853 kilometers (530 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 2,881 kilometers (1,790 miles) total boundary length; Mozambique 1,569 kilometers (975 miles); Tanzania 475 kilometers (295 miles); Zambia 837 kilometers (520 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None


Malawi, an inland nation in southeastern Africa, is well within the southern troh2cs. Its territory extends from north to south for 901 kilometers (560 miles) at an average width of less than 161 kilometers (100 miles), in a southern segment of the East African Rift Valley. With an area of 118,480 square kilometers (45,745 square miles), Malawi is slightly larger than the state of Pennsylvania. Malawi is divided into twenty-seven districts.


Malawi has no territories or dependencies.


Variations in altitude in Malawi lead to wide differences in climate. The vast water surface of Lake Malawi has a cooling effect, but because of the low elevation, the lands surrounding the lake have long hot seasons and high humidity, with a mean annual temperature of 24°C (75°F). Lilongwe, in Central Malawi, at an elevation of 1,041 meters (3,415 feet), has a moderately warm climate with adequate rainfall. The average daily minimum and maximum temperatures in November, the hottest month, are 17°C (63°F) and 29°C (84°F) respectively; those in July, the coolest month, are 7°C (45°F) and 23°C (73°F).

In general, the four seasons may be divided into the cool (May to mid-August); the hot (mid-August to November); the rainy (November to April), with rains continuing longer in the northern and eastern mountains; and the post-rainy (April to May), with temperatures falling in May. Precipitation is heaviest along the northern coast of Lake Malawi, where the yearly average is more than 163 centimeters (64 inches). About 70 percent of the country averages about 75 to 100 centimeters (30 to 40 inches) annually.


A complex geologic history has contributed to the formation of a landscape of great diversity in elevations and relief features. Flood-plains, marshes, hills, plateaus, escarpments, and mountains range from a few hundred feet above sea level in the lower valley of the Shire River to more than 2,590 meters (8,500 feet) in several widely separated sections of the country.


Malawi is landlocked.


Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), one of the largest and deepest lakes in the world, extends from north to south for more than 563 kilometers (350 miles), occupying the floor of a major southern segment of the East African Rift Valley system. Lake Chilwa is a complex of lakes and marshes in the southwest that has no outlet to the sea. Shallow and saline, it is subject to seasonal variations in water level and has numerous islands, two of which are permanently inhabited.


The Shire River drains the overrun from Lake Malawi, flowing southward through Lake Malombe and then continuing southward toward the Zambezi River. The Lilongwe River is dry for nearly one month each year. West of Zomba, numerous rapids and cataracts restrict transportation.


There are no deserts in Malawi.


In addition to the Shire, Lilongwe, and Nyika Plateaus, the country has extensive flat or rolling surfaces that range from 762 to 1,371 meters (2,500 to 4,500 feet) above sea level.


A few mountain ranges rise above the level of the highest plateaus. In the north, several peaks on the Nyika Plateau reach 2,590 meters (8,500 feet). The highest summit in the central region is Dedza Mountain, at 2,255 meters (7,400 feet). In the south, Zomba Mountain rises over 2,072 meters (6,800 feet). The Mulanje mountain system (also called the Mulanje Plateau, or the Mulanje Massif) near the southeastern border is Malawi's highest range. The highest pinnacle, Mt. Mulanje, rises to 3,002 meters (9,849 feet).


One of Malawi's most picturesque sites is the steep Ruo Gorge at Minunu on the Mulanje Massif. Many of the massif's steep cliffs are more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high.


Malawi's plateaus are its most important geographic feature, forming three-fourths of its land area.

The Shire Plateau in the south covers about 7,251 square kilometers (2,800 square miles). Blantyre, Malawi's largest town, and the village of Zomba lie on this plateau.

The Lilongwe Plain is a much broader plateau in the central region, covering about 23,309 square kilometers (9,000 square miles). It has numerous broad valleys and dambos (areas of moist soils on impermeable subsur-face layers) separated by low, rounded hills. The Nyika Plateau in the north is the highest in Malawi. It covers some 23,309 square kilometers (9,000 square miles) at elevations between 2,133 and 2,438 meters (7,000 and 8,000 feet).


The Mulunguzi Dam on the Zomba Plateau is among Malawi's largest dams. A major enlargement of the dam was carried out in the late 1990s with financial assistance from the World Bank.



Briggs, Philip. Bradt: Guide to Malawi. 2nd ed. Chalfont St Peter, UK: Bradt Publications, 1999.

O'Toole, Thomas. Malawi in Pictures. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group, 1989.

Young, Anthony. A Geography of Malawi. Limited ed. London: Evans Bros., 1991.

Web Sites

Lonely Planet Guides: Destination Malawi. (accessed April 8, 2003).

Malawi Government Ministry of Tourism. (accessed April 8, 2003).

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118,480sq km (45,745sq mi)



capital (population):

Lilongwe (440,471)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Maravi (Chewa, Nyanja, Tonga, Tumbuka) 58%, Lomwe 18%, Yao 13%, Ngoni 7%


Chichewa and English (both official)


Christianity (Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 28%), traditional beliefs 21%, Islam 16%


Kwacha = 100 tambala

Landlocked republic in se Africa. Lake Malawi dominates the Malawi republic, constituting 50% of its area. The lake forms most of its e border with Tanzania and Mozambique, and is drained in the s by the River Shire (a tributary of the Zambezi). The capital, Lilongwe, lies in a valley of the central plateau. Mountains fringe the w edge of Lake Malawi, rising in the s to 3000m (9843ft) at Mlange.

Climate and Vegetation

The lowlands are hot and humid throughout the year, but the uplands have a pleasant climate. Lilongwe has a warm, sunny climate, with occasional frosts in July and August. Grassland and tropical savanna cover much of Malawi. Woodland grows in wetter regions.

History and Politics

Bantu-speakers gradually displaced the native San and formed the Maravi kingdom (15th–18th century). In the early 19th century, the area was a centre of the slave trade. In 1891, it became a British protectorate. The British abolished slavery and established coffee plantations. In 1907, it became known as Nyasaland. In 1915, the British suppressed a rebellion against its rule. In 1953, Nyasaland became part of the Federation of Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (the Federation also included present-day Zambia). The Congress Party, led by Dr Hastings Banda, strongly opposed the Federation. In 1959, Britain declared a state of emergency.

The Federation dissolved in 1963, and in 1964 Nyasaland achieved independence as Malawi. Banda was the first post-colonial prime minister and when Malawi became a republic in 1966, he obtained the presidency. Malawi became a one-party state, and Banda's autocratic government established diplomatic relations with South Africa's apartheid government in 1967. In 1971, as the newly appointed president-for-life, Banda became the first post-colonial, black African head of state to visit South Africa. Malawi became a shelter for rebels and refugees from the civil war in Mozambique – more than 600,000 arrived in the late 1980s. Banda's repression of opposition became even more brutal. In 1992, international aid to relieve famine was tied to improvements in human rights and the establishment of multiparty democracy.

The United Democratic Front defeated Banda and his Malawi Congress Party in 1994 elections, and Bakili Muluzi became president. In 1999, Muluzi was re-elected as president. In 2002, Muluzi declared a state of national disaster with famine affecting 70% of the population. Rapid population growth, AIDS, and political corruption are major challenges.


Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries (2000 GDP per capita, US$900). Agriculture employs more than 80% of the workforce, mostly at subsistence level. Food crops include cassava, maize, and rice. Chief export crops include tobacco, tea, sugar, and cotton. Malawi lacks mineral resources and has few manufacturing industries. Lake fishing is an important activity.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. Malawians are part of the large Bantu population that migrated northward from South Africa at around the turn of the twentieth century.

Location and Geography. Malawi is a landlocked country that lies east of Zambia, north and west of Mozambique, and south of Tanzania. Its area is 45,747 square miles (118,500 square kilometers). The major topographic feature is Lake Malawi, a freshwater lake that is home to hundreds of fish species found nowhere else in the world. Twenty percent of the landmass consists of water. The topography varies from the high Nyika plateau in the north to the Shire River valley in the south that is an extension of the Great Rift Valley. In the far southeast corner is Mount Mulanje, which is among the highest mountains in Africa.

The capital, Lilongwe, is roughly in the center of the country. However, the major commercial center is Blantyre, named after the birthplace in Scotland of the first European to discover Lake Malawi, the English explorer Livingston. Access to the Indian Ocean is normally by rail to the port of Beira in Mozambique.

Demography. In 1999, the estimated population was ten million, with 45 percent of the population under age 14, and 3 percent over age 65. The population density is one of the highest in Africa. Among the major ethnic groups are Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asians, and Europeans.

Linguistic Affiliation. The most widely spoken language (60 percent of the population) is Chewa, which originated among the Bantu tribes of South Africa. Five percent of the people speak Yao, and 30 percent speak Arabic. The language of government, industry, and commerce is English, which every schoolchild studies. English is spoken in cities but rarely in rural areas.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Evidence of Stone Age and Iron Age settlements has been found around Lake Nyasa. Bantu peoples moved into the territory in the first millennium c.e. By the sixteenth century, a Malawi kingdom had trade relations with the coastal areas of Mozambique.

Jesuit missionaries from Portugal visited the territory near Lake Nyasa in the seventeenth century, but the lake probably was not known to Europeans until the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone reached its shores in 1859. European involvement began in 1875 and 1876, when Scottish church missions were established, and a British consul was stationed in the country in 1883. In 1891, treaties that had been negotiated with indigenous rulers resulted in the formal declaration of a British protectorate called the Nyasaland Districts Protectorate. Beginning in 1893, it was known as the British Central Africa Protectorate, and in 1907, the area was officially designated the Nyasaland Protectorate. In 1915, John Chilembwe, an African preacher, staged a short, bloody uprising in response to the treatment of Africans by British colonists.

After World War II, nationalist movements gained strength. After 1953, the protectorate was joined for ten years in a federation with Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) called the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. That federation was opposed by nationalists who advocated political freedom from British rule. After the federation's dissolution in 1963, Nyasaland achieved internal self-government, with Hastings Kamuzu Banda as the first prime minister. The protectorate gained independence in 1964 under its new name, Malawi. It was declared a republic in 1966, and Prime Minister Banda was elected president by the National Assembly.

Under the Banda regime, the country embarked on a vigorous program of economic development. In international affairs, Banda maintained a policy of neutrality in the dispute between Great Britain and the government of Rhodesia (known as Southern Rhodesia before 1964), maintaining extensive trade relations with Rhodesia's rebellious white minority government. He also maintained friendly relations with Mozambique (until 1975 governed by Portugal) and in 1967 signed a trade pact with South Africa.

In November 1970, the constitution was amended to make Banda president for life. Maintaining good relations with white-dominated South Africa, he became the first black African head of state to visit that country. His policy toward South Africa brought criticism from other black African countries, and his influence in continental affairs was minimal.

The first parliamentary elections were held in 1978. Although only the Malawi Congress Party participated, a majority of the incumbent members were defeated; participation in the 1983, 1987, and 1992 elections also was restricted to that party. The economy performed sluggishly in the early 1990s, burdened by foreign debt and an influx of Mozambican refugees. Meanwhile, Banda faced rising domestic discontent and international criticism of his human rights record.

In May 1994, a new constitution was approved, and then the first multiparty elections took place. Bakili Muluzi, the leader of the United Democratic Front and a former federal cabinet member, defeated Banda for the presidency and formed a government dominated by that party. In keeping with the new constitution, which established a human rights commission, Muluzi freed political prisoners and closed three prisons where tortures was said to have taken place. In early 1995, Banda and a top deputy were tried for the 1983 killings of four government officials. Both were acquitted.

Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, called Ngwazi, or ("Fearless Warrior,") had strong ties with and feelings for Britain. He modeled his government on the British Parliament and built Kamuzu Academy as a private school patterned after Eton. Only the brightest and wealthiest were able to attend; students were required to wear uniforms with straw boater hats and played cricket and rugby. The British influence still can be seen in driving on the left side of the road, roundabouts, speed bumps, and school uniforms.

Banda was revered by the general population, but most of the intelligentsia wanted him removed. Every government office had his picture on the wall. When he traveled within the country, streets would be closed and would be lined with schoolchildren waving flags and singing national songs. An audience with Banda would be extremely deferential, and servants were expected to enter and leave the room on their hands and knees, facing the president. A mbumba, a ceremonial group of women dancers accompanied him to all state functions.

Ethnic Relations. The many tribes generally have gotten along well. However, there is a feeling that people from the north are more intelligent than their southern counterparts, and Banda mistrusted northerners, attempting to keep them out of public office and curtail their enrollment in Kamuzu Academy. Citizens feel a kinship with the neighboring countries and during the civil war in Mozambique created many refugee camps along the borders and fed the refugees with the country's reserves of corn. At that time, Malawi was one of the few African countries that could feed itself.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Malawi has an agricultural economy, and even in urban areas, each home generally has a small plot of corn. There are three main cities. Blantyre, the commercial center, Lilongwe, the new capital, replacing Zomba; and Mzuzu in the far north. In 1990, the tallest building in the country was seven stories and the country had only four traffic signals. The vast majority of homes are constructed of sticks and mud with either a thatched roof or a roof of corrugated iron held down by stones. Families tend to build their homes close to each other in a small compound.

A typical home might consist of such a house with separate rooms for sleeping, eating, and storage. Cooking is done over a wood or charcoal fire in a separate building with a smoke hole in the roof. Furnishings are very simple, often homemade, with few decorations. Cow dung often is used to create the floor of the house. Bathing is done outside, often within a circular thatched shield with an open roof. Water is carried, often over great distances, from a lake, river, or well for cooking and bathing. In the larger cities, the water is potable.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Chickens, goats, and an occasional pig are used to supplement the standard dish of boiled cornmeal called nsima. Nsima is eaten twice a day, usually at lunch and dinner, and is preferred by most people to rice or potatoes. Fruits are plentiful, including mangoes, melons, oranges, bananas, and pineapples. Vegetables are cultivated but are not popular.

Soft drinks are quite prevalent, especially Coca-Cola. Alcoholic beverages are mainly beer (there is a large brewery in Blantyre), a homemade brew called chibuku, that is usually produced by women and served in cut-off milk cartons, and a more potent distilled liquor that often causes severe health problems.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Most weddings and funerals involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Basic Economy. In the last decade, the economy has gone downhill, the value of the kwacha has declined, and the rate of inflation is high. Malawi relies heavily on foodstuffs supplied by Western nations.

Land Tenure and Property. Land is treated as part of the public domain. A person may settle on a piece of ground, build a home, and grow crops as long as he gets the approval of his neighbors. After a certain period, he is permitted to register the plot with the government and is given legal title.

Commerical Activities. Malawi's economy is based largely on agriculture, which accounts for more than 90 percent of its export earnings, contributes 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and supports 90 percent of the population. Malawi has some of the most fertile land in the region. Almost 70 percent of agricultural produce comes from smalholder farmers. However, land distribution is unequal with more than 40 percent of smallholder households cultivating very small plots. The country's export trade is dominated by tobacco, tea, cotton, coffee, and sugar. There is very little import trade. Tourism is beginning to build after the collapse of the repressive government of Dr. Banda, and plans are in place to build more resorts and restore the roads.

Major Industries. The organizations that produce coffee, tea, and tobacco, such as the British-American Tobacco Company, are replacing their British managers with Malawians. The country produces no manufactured goods for export; thus, the economy depends heavily on agricultural staples. During the years of apartheid, Malawi was the only country in Africa that had diplomatic relations with South Africa. Many South Africans visited the country, and a basic tourism infrastructure was developed. Today there are tourists from many countries, but the country does not have an abundance of wildlife and there are no game parks. However, there is a potential for increased tourism because of the natural beauty and varied topography and because the country is unspoiled and inexpensive.

Trade. The major exports are tobacco, coffee, and tea. The country imports electrical appliances, small machinery, and automobiles, primarily Japanese. The balance of trade is favorable. The major trading partners are Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe, Japan, and South Africa.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. People from the northern region have a reputation for being better educated and more skilled in business. For this reason, they are mistrusted by people from the southern two-thirds of the country and efforts are made to keep them out of government positions. Men dress in a Western style, wearing shirts and trousers, women often wear traditional costumes consisting of two or three chitenjes, which are large pieces of colored fabric used as a skirt, a headdress, and a saronglike wrap that holds a small infant on the woman's back. One way to distinguish between the three regions is by the color of the dress; red, blue, and green represent the north, central, and southern regions, respectively.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Shoes are expensive and often the local people are barefoot even in the cities.

Political Life

Government. Malawi is now a multiparty democracy, instead of a dictatorship with one party. Citizens and those resident for more than seven years can vote. The president is both the chief of state and the head of the government. He appoints a twenty-eight-member cabinet. The judicial branch consists of a Supreme Court of Appeal, a High Court, a chief justice appointed by the president, additional judges appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, and magistrate's courts. The legislative branch is made up of the National Assembly with 177 members elected by plurality vote from single-seat constituencies for a five-year term. The Senate contains eighty members, all elected. Local government consists of twenty-four districts.

Leadership and Political Officials. The three major political parties are the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), and the United Democratic Front (UDF). The most recent elections were held in 1999; Bakali Muluzi of the UDF won the presidency with over 51 percent of the vote.

Social Problems and Control. The most serious crime is robbery, which generally occurs in the major cities and in tourist areas, although murder is not unknown. The police are conspicuous by their lack of weapons and vehicles. Local justice often is meted out on the spot. If a criminal is caught by local residents, he often is taken to the police station and beaten on the way while those around him sing and mock him. These beatings have caused death on occasion. During Banda's rule, there was a youth group that could turn violent. Its purpose was to intimidate the people into joining Banda's political party. The group members would stand at bus stations and prevent people from boarding until a membership card was produced or purchased.

Military Activity. The armed forces total about ten thousand, plus a paramilitary police force of about fifteen thousand. The army is by far the largest branch; the air force is small, and the navy is practically nonexistent. During World War I, Malawi sent a substantial number of troops to serve as part of the Kings African Rifles. There is monument to that unit in the former capital of Zomba.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

International fraternal groups such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, and Kiwanis have a presence in the country. In the agricultural sector, there are large, well-organized growers' associations for tea and tobacco.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

In one of the world's poorest nations, many foreign nongovernmental organizations are present. Among them are Medicins sans Frontieres, Save the Children, World Vision, and several United Nations organizations, such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. There are volunteer organizations such as United States Peace Corps and similar groups from England, Canada, Japan, and Germany. The World Food Program helps with food distribution.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. In a patriarchal society, men do most work outside the home. However, with help from Western countries, women are being encouraged to start their own businesses. There are a few women in governmental positions. Inside the home, women dominate.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. When a family returns from the market or from gathering firewood or drawing water, women and children carry the burdens. The man leads the way, smoking if he can afford tobacco, with the rest of the family trailing behind. In a culture that separates the sexes in most aspects of life, three-quarters of literate persons are men. Usually, men eat separately from women, using the only table in the house. The woman serves the meal to the man, often on her knees. At weddings, it is customary for the bride to serve food to the husband's parents in that position.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriages often are arranged, particularly in rural areas. Dowries are presented by the bride's parents to the husband to be and play a significant role in the selection of a partner. Dowries are usually in the form of livestock, such as cattle, goats, or chickens, but may consists of grain or land. Larger women often are favored as brides because they appear to come from a well-to-do family that can provide a significant dowry and seem strong enough to carry heavy loads. Polygamy is practiced occasionally by those who can afford it. On occasion, the co-wives will share the same house with the husband.

Females undergo an initiation ceremony at the onset of puberty or menstruation and just before marriage. It often consists of very explicit instructions on the sexual aspect of marriage. Divorce is becoming more common and is very difficult on the wife, who must go back to her family and hope it will take her in. The husband receives all the couple's possessions.

Domestic Unit. Families are quite close and often live in adjoining houses. Elderly persons are taken care of by their children, and usually the oldest members of a family have a strong voice in running the household and raising the children. Especially important is the uncle; male adolescents ask advice first of the uncle, who is also influential in the selection of a bride.


Infant Care. Infants usually are carried on the mother's back, facing inward. Mothers conduct many activities with their babies in attendance: shopping, carrying water, hoeing a garden, and dancing in a ceremony. Separate rooms or cribs for infants are almost nonexistent because most houses are small and include many family and extended family members.

Child Rearing and Education. The average woman will bear five to six children, less than half of whom will live past the age of five years. Children are raised under strict family control, usually by the mother, until they leave home. They are expected to help with the chores of daily living. Most tasks are done by female children, such as carrying water, cleaning the home and washing dishes, and going to the market. Half the population over the age of fifteen can read and write, but education is reserved for those who can afford school fees and uniforms. Most children have to end their education before high school to help tend the fields or care for younger siblings.

Higher Education. College or even vocational training is rare, although Chancellor College has a good reputation and Queen Victoria Hospital, the largest in the country, has a school of nursing. Recently, a medical school was opened in Blantyre. However, those able to afford it usually send their children abroad for higher education. The preferred destinations are the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. Advanced degrees often are obtained overseas with financial help from Western organizations.


Verbal greetings are accompanied by a handshake. This is done with the right hand, with the left hand gripping the right forearm to show that one is not armed. Stopping to talk on the street is customary, and the conversation continues even after the parties go their separate ways. Although residents are gregarious, they respect other people's privacy in a crowded country where private space is at a premium. A person approaching someone's house will often cry Odi, Odi to announce his or her presence. Any visitor almost always is offered a drink and perhaps something to eat. Eating usually is done without utensils, but only with the right hand, because the left hand is considered "dirty."


Religious Beliefs. Fifty-five percent of the people belong to the Church of England but there are also Methodists, Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists. Twenty percent of the population are Muslim, and 20 percent are Catholic. There is a small Hindu presence.

Rituals and Holy Places. Most larger towns have a Christian church and a Muslim mosque. Most major cities also have a Hindu temple. In rural areas, animistic religion is practiced.

Death and the Afterlife. Because of the short life expectancy, the growing incidence of AIDS and other diseases, and the high infant mortality rate, death is a constant presence. Employers give workers time off for funerals, and funerals and mourning can last several days.

Medicine and Health Care

There are hospitals as well as a school of Medicine and several schools of nursing. The best hospital is probably the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital in Blantyre, which also has a dental clinic. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre is the largest in the country but is not particularly sanitary.

Medicine men and women provide health care for many people, especially in rural areas, using traditional or folk medicine. Sometimes called singanas, they work out of the home or from a clinic, using natural medicines such as roots, herbs, and potions. Medicine men base their healing on the assumption that most illnesses are caused by supernatural powers and that supernatural powers are required to cure them. The individual may fall ill after offending one of the gods, through witchcraft or sorcery, or through the unprovoked attack of an evil spirit. The task of the curer is to diagnose the disease and then apply the spiritual remedy, such as retrieving a lost soul, removing a disease-causing object, or exorcising an evil spirit. Often medicine men are called on to help in areas not considered medical problems in the West, such as finding a wife or lover, conceiving a child, and helping in business matters.

Yellow fever and malaria are prevalent, and the country has one of the highest incidences of AIDS in the world. Despite some efforts by the government, it has been difficult to lower the rate of AIDS because of long-standing social mores.

Secular Celebrations

The three major national holidays are Independence Day, 6 July; Republic Day, 6 July; and Constitution Day, 18 May. Independence Day celebrates the end of the British colonial status in 1964, Republic Day commemorates the formal declaration of the republic in 1966, and Constitution Day celebrates the drafting of the first constitution as a democratic society in 1995.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Malawi has built a National Dance Troupe over the past few years which has been well received. It is partially subsidized by the government and receives the only governmental financial support to the arts in the country.

Literature. There is a long tradition of oral artistry. Before the spread of literacy in the twentieth century, texts were preserved in memory and performed or recited. Those traditional texts provided entertainment, instruction, and commemoration. However, no distinctions were made between works composed for enjoyment and works with a more utilitarian function. Those works were primarily, myths, legends, and folktales.

Performance Arts. The performing arts are not highly developed. Local bands, that use primarily native instruments play throughout the country at festivals and celebrations but seldom travel abroad. Dance troupes are becoming more popular; their performances relate stories of everyday life. Some of the most popular are episodes involve a policeman, with uniform and whistle, who directs people by alternating verbal and whistle commands.

Graphic Arts. Wood carving and pottery making account the items most frequently purchased by tourists and Africans. Every home has one or more wood statues, generally of people or animals, along with elaborately carved tables and chairs. Every large town has carvings for sale, even in the supermarkets. The best pottery is said to come from Dedza on the Mozambique border. These pieces are often hand-painted with scenes, such as fishing boats on Lake Malawi at sunset.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Lack funding has constrained the development of the physical and social sciences. The University of Malawi (also known as Chancellor College) has a good reputation, but the staff is poorly paid and the facilities are not kept up to date. The Polytechnic University in Blantyre relies on highly paid foreign professors.


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Bruce H. Dolph

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Malawi. Former British central African protectorate of Nyasaland. The missionary explorer David Livingstone led the first group of Britons to the region in 1859 and after initial set-backs Nyasaland became a thriving centre of missionary activity. A British protectorate was declared in 1893. Early hopes of economic development rested upon the introduction of white settlers although cotton-growing by the indigenous people was later encouraged. Economic motives also led to the creation of the Central African Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland in 1953, but African opposition resulted in its dissolution in 1963. Nyasaland became independent as Malawi in 1964 and a republic in 1966.

Kenneth Ingham

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MALAWI. A country of East Africa and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: Chichewa, English (both official), and indigenous. The first European contact was in 1859, by the Scottish missionary David Livingstone. In 1878, the African Lakes Company was established; in 1883, Britain appointed a consul to the Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa; the territory became the British protectorate of Nyasaland, which became independent in 1964 as Malawi. English is the principal LINK LANGUAGE and the language of education from the fourth year of school, and is used in the media. See EAST AFRICAN ENGLISH.

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The people of Malawi belong mainly to various groups. About half belong to the Chewa and Nyanja groups, known collectively as Malawi (or Maravi), who arrived in Malawi before the nineteenth century.

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Malawi •Myfanwy • Malawi • Zimbabwe •Anhui • Dewi •kiwi, peewee, weewee •Conwy, Goronwy •soliloquy, ventriloquy •colloquy • obloquy

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