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By Exit Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Malawi
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Map of Malawi
Background:Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution, which came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 2004 after the previous president failed to amend the constitution to permit another term, has struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor, who still leads their shared political party. MATHARIKA's anti-corruption efforts have led to several high-level arrests but no convictions. Increasing corruption, population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, and HIV/AIDS pose major problems for the country.
Location:Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Geographic coordinates:13 30 S, 34 00 E
Map references:Africa
Area:total: 118,480 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,400 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:total: 2,881 km
border countries: Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km

Coastline:0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:none (landlocked)
Climate:sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)
Terrain:narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
Elevation extremes:lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m

Natural resources:limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
Land use:arable land: 23.38%
permanent crops: 1.49%
other: 75.13% (2001)

Irrigated land:280 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:NA
Environment - current issues:deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations
Environment - international agreements:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note:landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:0-14 years: 46.9% (male 2,877,568/female 2,823,296)
15-64 years: 50.4% (male 3,041,352/female 3,081,762)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 132,175/female 202,771) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 16.34 years
male: 16.04 years
female: 16.65 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:2.06% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:43.95 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:23.39 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 103.32 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 107.44 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 99.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 36.97 years
male: 36.59 years
female: 37.36 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:5.98 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:14.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:900,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:84,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian

Ethnic groups:Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Religions:Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3% (1998 census)
Languages:Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.7%
male: 76.1%
female: 49.8% (2003 est.)

Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
former: British Central African Protectorate, Nyasaland Protectorate, Nyasaland

Government type:multiparty democracy
Administrative divisions:27 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
Independence:6 July 1964 (from UK)
National holiday:Independence Day (Republic Day), 6 July (1964)
Constitution:18 May 1994
Legal system:based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: 46-member Cabinet named by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 20 May 2004 (next to be held May 2009)
election results: Bingu wa MUTHARIKA elected president; percent of vote - Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (UDF) 35.9%, John TEMBO (MCP) 27.1%, Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA (MC) 25.7%, Brown MPINGANJIRA (NDA) 8.7%, Justin MALEWEZI (independent) 2.5%

Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20 May 2004 (next to be held May 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UDF 74, MCP 60, Independents 24, RP 16, others 18, vacancies 1

Judicial branch:Supreme Court of Appeal; High Court (chief justice appointed by the president, puisne judges appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission); magistrate's courts
Political parties and leaders:Alliance for Democracy or AFORD [Chakufwa CHIHANA]; Malawi Congress Party or MCP [John TEMBO]; Malawi Democratic Party or MDP [Kampelo KALUA]; Malawi Forum for Unity and Development or MAFUNDE [George MNESA]; Mgwirizano Coalition or MC (coalition of MAFUNDE, MDP, MGODE, NUP, PETRA, PPM, RP) [Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA]; Movement for Genuine Democratic Change or MGODE [Sam Kandodo BANDA]; National Democratic Alliance or NDA [Brown MPINGANJIRA]; National Unity Party or NUP [Harry CHIUME]; New Congress for Democracy or NCD [Hetherwick NTABA]; People's Progressive Movement or PPM [Aleke BANDA]; People's Transformation Movement or PETRA [Kamuzu CHIBAMBO]; Republican Party or RP [Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Bingu wa MUTHARIKA] - governing party
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:ACP, AfDB, AU, C, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, ONUB, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMIL, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Flag description:three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered in the black band
Economy - overview:Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounted for nearly 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues in 2001. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for over 50% of exports. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. The government faces strong challenges, including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. In 2005, the anticorruption campaign championed by President MUTHARIKA may help encourage investment and economic growth.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $7.41 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:4% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $600 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 54.8%
industry: 19.2%
services: 26% (2004 est.)

Labor force:4.5 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 90% (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate:NA (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line:55% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA

Inflation rate (consumer prices):12% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):10.7% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $536 million
expenditures: $635.6 million, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:228.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses; groundnuts, Macadamia nuts; cattle, goats
Industries:tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate:1.4% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:1.088 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 3.3%
hydro: 96.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:1.012 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:5,400 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Current account balance:$-55.5 million (2004 est.)
Exports:$503.4 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:tobacco 60%, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel
Exports - partners:South Africa 13.8%, US 12.3%, Germany 11.8%, Egypt 8.2%, UK 6.8% (2004)
Imports:$521.1 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:food, petroleum products, semimanufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
Imports - partners:South Africa 43.5%, India 6.8%, Tanzania 4.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$160.5 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$3.129 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):Malawian kwacha (MWK)
Currency code:MWK
Exchange rates:Malawian kwachas per US dollar - 108.894 (2004), 97.433 (2003), 76.687 (2002), 72.197 (2001), 59.544 (2000)
Fiscal year:1 July - 30 June
Telephones - main lines in use:85,000 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:135,100 (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: NA
domestic: system employs open-wire lines, microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations
international: country code - 265; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 9, FM 5 (plus 15 repeater stations), shortwave 2 (plus a third station held in standby status) (2001)
Radios:2.6 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:1 (2001)
Internet country
Internet hosts:18 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):3 (2002)
Internet users:36,000 (2003)
Railways:total: 797 km
narrow gauge: 797 km 1.067-m gauge (2004)

Highways:total: 28,400 km
paved: 5,254 km
unpaved: 23,146 km (1999 est.)

Waterways:700 km
note: on Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and Shire River (2003)

Ports and harbors:Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Chilumba
Airports:42 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 6
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 20 (2004 est.)

Military branches:Malawi Armed Forces: Army (includes Air Wing and Naval Detachment), Police (includes Mobile Force Unit)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2001)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 2,320,190 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 995,084 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$11.1 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:0.7% (2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:disputes with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River remain dormant

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