Factfile - Malawi
Malawi, a landlocked African country is surrounded by Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.Malawi is one of the smallest but most densely populated countries. It is slightly smaller in area than England. It has a tropical climate with the rainy season being November to May and the dry season May to November
It has been described as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ largely due to the very friendly and peaceful nature of its people who give a warm welcome to any who visit.
Lake Malawi, which is over 350 miles long occupies about 20% of the country and it provides fish for eating as well an alternative way for travel along the lakeshore.
Malawi has five national parks, 4 wildlife reserves and numerous forest reserves which are home to large ranges of mammals and birds.
The official languages are Chichewa and English with a literacy rate of 58% (Male 72% Female 43%) 1999 estimate.
Malawi’s rich variety of scenic beauty masks the nation’s acute poverty, being one of the world’s least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for 31 % of the GDP and 90% of export revenues. (Tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton and coffee) The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The country still has debt burdens despite recent promises of debt relief.
The country’s population face enormous challenges. Malawi’s food security is very precarious and the country is prone to natural disasters – from drought to heavy rainfalls. This particularly affects those who rely on subsistence agriculture. Illnesses such as malaria and TB are on the increase but similarly to many African countries, the most acute crisis is HIV/AIDS. An estimated 155 of the rural population and 32% of the urban population are infected with the HIV virus. This has accounted for the drop in years of life expectancy and hundreds of thousands of orphans.
The population has doubled since Independence in 1964 to 10.5 million putting pressure on land. The country’s soils and biodiversity are further threatened by deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution and over fishing of Lake Malawi.
Since Independence in 1964 Malawi has been governed by Presidents.
1964 - 94 President Kamuzu Banda
1994 - 2004 President Bakili Muluzi
2004 - President Bingu Wa Mutharika
For further details on Malawi visit The World Fact Book