Republic of Malawi
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 15 million. Its capital is Lilongwe, the second largest city is Blantyre and the third largest city is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also called "The Warm Heart of Africa".
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 that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor and subsequently started his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2005. As president, Bingu wa MUTHARIKA has overseen economic improvements. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi. President Bingu wa Mutharika was reelected to a second term in May 2009. From January 2010 to January 2011, Bingu wa Mutharika was Chairman of the African Union.
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture, which has benefited from fertilizer subsidies since 2006, accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports. Other important Malawian crops are tea, maize, which is used for Malawi's staple food, nsima (a dough made with maize flour), sugar cane and cotton.
The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. In December 2007, the US granted Malawi eligibility status to receive financial support within the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) initiative. The government faces many 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.
The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi's eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587 km) long and 52 miles (84 km) wide. The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 250 miles (400 km) farther south in Mozambique.
The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 1,500 feet (457 m) above sea level, with a maximum depth of 2,300 feet (701 m), which means the lake bottom is over 700 feet (213 m) below sea level at some points. In the mountainous sections of Malawi surrounding the Rift Valley, plateaus rise generally 3,000 to 4,000 feet (914 to 1,219 m) above sea level, although some rise as high as 8,000 feet (2,438 m) in the north.
To the south of Lake Malawi lie the Shire Highlands, gently rolling land at approximately 3,000 feet (914 m) above sea level. In this area, the Zomba and Mlanje mountain peaks rise to respective heights of 7,000 feet (2,134 m) and 10,000 feet (3,048 m).
Malawi's capital is Lilongwe, and its commercial center and largest city is Blantyre with a population of over 500,000 people. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006.
Malawi has a population of over 15 million, with a growth rate of 2.75%, according to 2009 estimates. Malawi's population is made up of the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni and Ngonde native ethnic groups, as well as populations of Asians and Europeans. Major languages include Chichewa, an official language spoken by over 57% of the population, Chinyanja (12.8%), Chiyao (10.1%) and Chitumbuka (9.5%).
Life expectancy at birth is 50.03 years. There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 930,000 adults (or 11.9% of the population) living with the disease in 2007. There are approximately 68,000 deaths a year from HIV/AIDS (2007). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients.
AIDS in Malawi in recent years
Malawi continues to suffer from the connecting problems of poverty, famine and AIDS. However, intensive efforts have been made in recent years to increase awareness about HIV and to prevent its spread, and these efforts appear to have had a positive effect.
In 2000, a five-year National Strategic Framework to combat AIDS was implemented. The policy was slow to take effect as financial and organisational difficulties within the NACP persisted. A more structured body was needed to co-ordinate Malawiís response to AIDS, and the National AIDS Commission (NAC) was set up in 2001. The NAC has since overseen a number of AIDS prevention and care initiatives, including programmes to provide treatment, increase testing and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
The governmentís response to AIDS was further intensified in 2004 with the election of new President Bingu Wa Mutharika, who launched Malawi's first National AIDS Policy. This policy set the goal of improving the provision of prevention, treatment, care and support services, and called for a multi-sectoral response to the epidemic. A Principal Secretary for HIV and AIDS was appointed within the government, and treatment and prevention programmes were scaled up.
The national HIV prevalence has stabilised between 11% and 17% since the mid-Nineties, and prevalence amongst women attending antenatal clinics has fallen slightly. Several urban areas, such as the capital Lilongwe, have witnessed a decline in HIV prevalence, although some rural areas have seen prevalence increase. Latest figures suggest a stabilisation of national prevalence at around 11 percent.
In Malawi, primary education is not compulsory, but the Constitution requires that all people be entitled to at least five years of primary education. In 1994, free primary education for all children was established by the government, which increased attendance rates. Dropout rates are higher for girls than boys. However, attendance rates for all children are improving, with enrollment rates for primary schools increased from 58% in 1992 to 75% in 2007, while the number of students who begin in grade one and complete grade five has increased from 64% in 1992 to 86% in 2006. Youth literacy has also increased, moving from 68% in 2000 to 82% in 2007. This increase is primarily attributed to improved learning materials in schools, better infrastructure and feeding programs that have been implemented throughout the school system
Mulungu dalitsa Malaŵi (Chichewa)
"Oh God Bless Our Land of Malawi"
6 July 1964 (from the UK)
Independence Day (Republic Day), 6 July (1964)
18 May 1994
based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
18 years of age; universal
GDP - per capita:
$900 (2010 est.)
28 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 11% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
920,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 51,000 (2009 est.)
Major cities - population:
Blantyre 856,000; LILONGWE (capital) 821,000 (2009 est)
Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3% (1998 census)
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)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.7%
female: 49.8% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 9 years
male: 9 years
female: 9 years (2007)