Malawi [Country Flag of Malawi]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Malawi]



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Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia

Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E

Map references: Africa

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: 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: Mount Mlanje Sapitwa 3,002 m

Natural resources: limestone, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

Land use:
arable land: 18%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 39%
other: 23% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 280 sq km (1993 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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography—note: landlocked


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Population: 9,840,474 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 46% (male 2,249,108; female 2,228,934)
15-64 years: 52% (male 2,512,768; female 2,584,516)
65 years and over: 2% (male 111,089; female 154,059) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.66% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 40.22 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 23.68 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 133.77 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 36.59 years
male: 36.64 years
female: 36.54 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.62 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian

Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European

Religions: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, traditional indigenous beliefs

Languages: English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 56.4%
male: 71.9%
female: 41.8% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
former: Nyasaland

Data code: MI

Government type: multiparty democracy

National capital: Lilongwe

Administrative divisions: 24 districts; Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba

Independence: 6 July 1964 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day 6 July (1964); Republic Day 6 July (1966)

Constitution: 18 May 1995

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 Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Bakili MULUZI (since 21 May 1994); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet named by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 17 May 1994 (next to be held by May 1999)
election results: Bakili MULUZI elected president; percent of vote—NA

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (177 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 17 May 1994 (next to be held by May 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—UDF 84, AFORD 33, MCP 55, others 5; note—because of defections and byelections, the seats in the National Assembly were held at the end of the year as follows: UDF 84, MCP 47, AFORD 34, independents 8, and vacant 4
note: the constitution of 18 May 1995, in addition to reducing the age at which universal suffrage is conferred from 21 to 18 years, provided for a bicameral legislature; by 1999, in addition to the existing National Assembly, a Senate of 80 seats is to be elected

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:
ruling party: United Democratic Front or UDF [Bakili MULUZI]
opposition groups: Alliance for Democracy or AFORD [Chakufwa CHIHANA]; Congress for the Second Republic or CSR [Kanyama CHIUME]; Malawi Congress Party or MCP [Gwanda CHAKUAMBA, president/John TEMBO, vice president]; Malawi Democratic Party or MDP [Kampelo KALUA, president]; People Democratic Party or PDP [Rolf PATEL]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Eston KAKHOME, president]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Willie CHOKANI
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1007

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Amelia Ellen SHIPPY
embassy: address NA, in new capital city development area in Lilongwe
mailing address: P. O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
telephone: [265] 783 166
FAX: [265] 780 471

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered in the black band


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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 accounts for 45% of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The new government faces strong challenges, e.g., to spur exports, to improve educational and health facilities, and to deal with environmental problems of deforestation and erosion.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$8.6 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$900 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 45%
industry: 30%
services: 25% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 83.4% (1995)

Labor force:
total: 3.5 million
by occupation: agriculture 86%, wage earners 14% (1990 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $530 million
expenditures: $674 million, including capital expenditures of $129 million (1993)

Industries: tea, tobacco, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods

Industrial production growth rate: 0.9% (1995)

Electricity—capacity: 185,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 800 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 82 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses; cattle, goats

total value: $405 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: tobacco, tea, sugar, coffee, peanuts, wood products
partners: US, South Africa, Germany, Japan

total value: $475 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: food, petroleum products, semimanufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
partners: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Japan, US, UK, Germany

Debt—external: $2.3 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: donor pledges, $332 million (1996)

Currency: 1 Malawian kwacha (MK) = 100 tambala

Exchange rates: Malawian kwacha (MK) per US$1—17.5300 (October 1997), 15.3085 (1996), 15.2837 (1995), 8.7364 (1994), 4.4028 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March


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Telephones: 43,000 (1985 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: fair system of open-wire lines, microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 17, shortwave 0

Radios: 1.011 million (1995)

Television broadcast stations: 0 (1987 est.)

Televisions: NA


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total: 789 km
narrow gauge: 789 km 1.067-m gauge

total: 28,400 km
paved: 5,254 km
unpaved: 23,146 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi); Shire River, 144 km

Ports and harbors: Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota

Airports: 45 (1997 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 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 39
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 24 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army (includes Air Wing and Naval Detachment), Police (includes paramilitary Mobile Force Unit)

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49 : 2,248,023 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 1,151,594 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $10.4 million (FY94/95)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi)