OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Malawi
CAPITAL: Lilongwe
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 118,485 Sq Km (45,748 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 12,809,800


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Malawi is a landlocked country located in SouthEast Africa. It is bound by Mozambique to the southwest and southeast, Lake Nyasa (Malawi) to the east, Tanzania to the north and Zambia to the west. The country is covered in plateaux which include the Shire Plateau in the south, a broader plateau of the Lilongwe Plain in the central region, the Nyika Plateau in the north as well as six other plateaux, of which some are known as hills or plains. The Dedza, Zomba and Mulanje Mountains all rise from high plateaux and the most prominent physical feature of the country is Lake Nyasa (Malawi) which covers 25% of the land area. Eight rivers and hundreds of streams drain the plateaux into Lake Nyasa (Malawi). Major Cities (pop. est.); Blantyre 446,800, Lilongwe 395,500, Mzuzu 62,700 (1994). Land Use; forested 39%, pastures 20%, agricultural-cultivated 18%, other 23% (1993).


CLIMATE: Malawi has a subtropical climate characterized by four seasons. (1.) A cool season between May and mid-August. (2.) A hot season between mid-August and November. (3.) A rainy season between November and April. (4.) A post rainy between April and May. Generally, the highlands are cooler and wetter while the low lying regions are hotter and more humid. Average annual precipitation is 740 mm (29 inches) and average temperature ranges are from 14 to 24 degrees Celsius (57 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) between November and April to 19 to 32 degrees Celsius (66 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) between May and October.


PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are Black Africans who constitute 99.5% of the population with the main ethnic groups divided into the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tongo and Ngoni tribes. Other ethnic aliens include minorities of Asians and Europeans.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 97 persons per sq km (251 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 11.0% urban, 89.0% rural (1987). Sex Distribution; 48.6% male, 51.4% female (1987). Life Expectancy at Birth; 46.3 years male, 47.7 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 48% under 15, 26% 15 to 29, 14% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 3% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1987). Birth Rate; 56.3 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 20.6 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 35.7 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 150.0 per 1,000 live births (1990).


RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 34% of the population Protestant while 28% are Roman Catholic. Other religious minorities include Muslims which account for 16% of the population and the remainder following local native tribal beliefs.


LANGUAGES: The official languages are Chichewa and English with a little over 50% of the population speaking Chichewa or Chewa, while the remainder speak a variety of tribal languages.


EDUCATION: Aged 5 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 54.9%, primary 41.7%, secondary and higher 3.4% (1987). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 1,555,000 or 41.2% (1985).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1953 the British made the protectorate then known as Nyasaland part of the Central African Federation with Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In 1958 Dr Hastings Kamuza Banda led Malawi to independence as a Republic within the Commonwealth on July 6, 1966. In 1966 Dr Banda was elected President and adopted a new constitution for a single-party political system. In 1971 a constitutional amendment made Dr Banda President for life. Since independence the government of Malawi has encouraged increases in economic production and has also maintained good relations with neighboring Black-ruled and Marxist nations. In 1983 a power struggle developed between Dick Matenje and John Tembo over who would succeed Banda as President but ended when Matenje died in an apparent road accident in May. During the 1980's it is believed that Pres. Banada has been responsible for the assassination of two of his exiled opposition party leaders, although the government has officially denied any involvement in both cases. In 1988 after relations had been severely strained, the Malawi and Mozambique governments came to an agreement were Malawi would not permit the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR) to use its territory as a safe-haven. In Jan. and Apr. 1990 Pres. Banda dissolved his cabinet and made internal adjustments. In early 1991, some 100 political prisoners were released as a result of increasing pressure from aid donor countries such as Germany, Denmark and the UK. Also in 1991 Malawi had to contend with thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Mozambique. In 1992 Malawi experienced acute shortages of food as a result of poor harvests affected by drought and the problems with providing food provisions for some one million refugees from Mozambique. In March 1992 Pres. Banda's opposition critics met in Zambia and called for an end to the Malawi Congress Party's position as the sole legal party. Following which a delegate, Chakufwa Chihana agreed to return to Malawi to present the views of the meeting to the government but was arrested upon his arrival. On March 8, 1992 eight Roman Catholic priests angered the government by signing a letter that criticized the country's human rights record. In May 1992 there were widespread strikes by workers demanding better wage conditions. In July 1992 Chihana was released on bail, although he was subsequently arrested again after openly criticizing the government and sentenced to two years imprisonment in Dec. 1992. In Oct, 1992 Pres. Banda announced plans for a referendum on multiparty politics. On June 14, 1993 the people of Malawi overwhelmingly voted in favor of a multiparty political system, although Pres. Banda refused to share power with opposition parties. In Oct. 1993 while Pres. Banda was recovering from brain surgery in South Africa, a Presidential Council headed by Gwanda Chakuamba took over the government and on Nov. 17, 1993 during a special National Assembly meeting declared Banda no longer "president for life" and lost his powers to nominate assembly deputies. In Dec. 1993 Pres. Banda declared himself fit to lead his Malawi Congress Party into the 1994 elections.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Kwacha (MK) divided into 100 Tambala.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $2,034,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $1,724,000,000 (1993). Imports; MK 3,295,700,000 (1994). Exports; MK 3,098,460,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $13,000,000 (1991). Balance of Trade; MK -29,000,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 3,457,753 or 43.3% of total population (1987). Unemployed; 5.4% (1987).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are South Africa, the UK, Japan, the USA, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Beans, Cassava, Cotton, Ground Nuts, Maize, Millet, Rice, Sorghum, Sugar, Tea, Tobacco.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Brewing, Cement, Food Processing, Tourism.

MAIN EXPORTS: Cereals, Cotton, Ground Nuts, Sugar, Tea, Textiles, Tobacco


TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 797 km (495 mi) (1989), passenger-km 111,609,000 (69,351,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 70,649,000 (48,388,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length 12,215 km (7,590 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 14,911 (1986), trucks and buses 16,698 (1986). Merchant Marine; vessels 1 (1990), deadweight tonnage 300 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 79,000,000 (49,088,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 14,273,000 (9,776,000 short ton-mi) (1990).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation of 22,000 (1994). Radio; receivers 2,000,000 (1994). Television; N/A. Telephones; units 32,800 (1993).


MILITARY: 8,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 97.5% army, 2.5% navy/marines and 0.0% air force while military expenditure accounts for 1.0% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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