Malawi Population: 19,842,560


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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 presidential and parliamentary elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Bakili MULUZI became the first freely elected president of Malawi when he won the presidency in 1994; he won re-election in 1999. President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in 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 in 2005. MUTHARIKA was reelected to a second term in 2009. He oversaw some economic improvement in his first term, but was accused of economic mismanagement and poor governance in his second term. He died abruptly in 2012 and was succeeded by vice president, Joyce BANDA, who had earlier started her own party, the People's Party. MUTHARIKA's brother, Peter MUTHARIKA, defeated BANDA in the 2014 election. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.

    Landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature; it contains more fish species than any other lake on earth
Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique
Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E
Area: total: 118,484 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,404 sq km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land Boundaries: total: 2,857 km border countries (3): Mozambique 1498 km, Tanzania 512 km, Zambia 847 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
Natural resources: limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
Land use: agricultural land: 59.2% (2011 est.) arable land: 38.2% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 1.4% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 19.6% (2011 est.) forest: 34% (2011 est.)
other: 6.8% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 740 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: flooding; droughts; earthquakes
Current Environment Issues: deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations; negative effects of climate change (extreme high temperatures, changing precipatation pattens)
International Environment 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
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Nationality: noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian
Ethnic groups: Chewa 34.3%, Lomwe 18.8%, Yao 13.2%, Ngoni 10.4%, Tumbuka 9.2%, Sena 3.8%, Mang'anja 3.2%, Tonga 1.8%, Nyanja 1.8%, Nkhonde 1%, other 2.2%, foreign .3% (2018 est.)
Languages: English (official), Chichewa (common), Chinyanja, Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe, Chinkhonde, Chingoni, Chisena, Chitonga, Chinyakyusa, Chilambya
Religions: Protestant 33.5% (includes Church of Central Africa Presbyterian 14.2%, Seventh Day Adventist/Baptist 9.4%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Anglican 2.3%), Roman Catholic 17.2%, other Christian 26.6%, Muslim 13.8%, traditionalist 1.1%, other 5.6%, none 2.1% (2018 est.)
Population: 19,842,560 (July 2018 est.) 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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Age structure: 0-14 years: 46.17% (male 4,560,940 /female 4,600,184)
15-24 years: 20.58% (male 2,023,182 /female 2,059,765)
25-54 years: 27.57% (male 2,717,613 /female 2,752,983)
55-64 years: 3% (male 284,187 /female 310,393)
65 years and over: 2.69% (male 234,776 /female 298,537) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 91 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 85.3 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.7 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 17.4 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 16.6 years
male: 16.5 years
female: 16.8 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.31% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 40.7 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 16.9% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 4.19% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 1.03 million LILONGWE (capital)
879,000 Blantyre-Limbe (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth: 18.9 years (2015/16 est.) note: median age at first birth among women 25-29
Maternal mortality rate: 634 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 42.1 deaths/1,000 live births male: 48.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 35.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 62.2 years male: 60.2 years
female: 64.3 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.43 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 59.2% (2015/16)
Physicians density: 0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
Hospital bed density: 1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 95.7% of population
rural: 89.1% of population
total: 90.2% of population

urban: 4.3% of population
rural: 10.9% of population
total: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 47.3% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 39.8% of population (2015 est.)
total: 41% of population (2015 est.)

urban: 52.7% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 60.2% of population (2015 est.)
total: 59% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 9.6% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 1 million (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 17,000 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 5.8% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 11.8% (2015)
Education expenditures: 4% of GDP (2017)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
total population: 62.1%
male: 69.8%
female: 55.2% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years male: 11 years female: 11 years (2011)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 8.5% male: 6.7% female: 10.6% (2017 est.)
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Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Malawi
conventional short form: Malawi
local long form: Dziko la Malawi
local short form: Malawi
former: British Central African Protectorate, Nyasaland Protectorate, Nyasaland
etymology: named for the East African Maravi Kingdom of the 16th century; the word "maravi" means "fire flames"
Government type: presidential republic
Capital: name: Lilongwe
geographic coordinates: 13 58 S, 33 47 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: named after the Lilongwe River that flows through the city
Administrative divisions: 28 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga, Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
Independence: 6 July 1964 (from the UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1964); note - also called Republic Day since 6 July 1966
Constitution: history: previous 1953 (preindependence), 1966; latest drafted January to May 1994, approved 16 May 1994, entered into force 18 May 1995 amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage of amendments affecting constitutional articles including the sovereignty and territory of the state, fundamental constitutional principles, human rights, voting rights, and the judiciary requires majority approval in a referendum and majority approval by the Assembly; passage of other amendments requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly; amended several times, last in 2017 (2018)
Legal system: mixed legal system of English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Arthur Peter MUTHARIKA (since 31 May 2014); Vice President Everton CHIMULIRENJI (since 28 May 2019; note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Arthur Peter MUTHARIKA (since 31 May 2014); Vice President Everton CHIMULIRENJI (since 28 May 2019)

cabinet: Cabinet named by the president elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 21 May 2019 (next to be held in May 2024)

election results: Peter MUTHARIKA elected president; percent of vote - Peter MUTHARIKA (DPP) 38.6%, Lazarus CHAKWERA (MCP) 35.4%, Saulos CHILIMA (UTM) 20.2%, Atupele MULUZI (UDF) 4.7%, other 3.1%
Legislative branch: description: unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 21 May 2019 (next to be held in May 2024)

election results: percent of vote by party - n/a; seats by party - DPP 62, MCP 55, UDF 10, PP 5, other 5, independent 55, vacant 1; composition - men 161, women 32, percent of women 16.6%
Judicial branch: highest courts: Supreme Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and at least 3 judges) judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly; other judges appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, which regulates judicial officers; judges serve until age 65

subordinate courts: High Court; magistrate courts; Industrial Relations Court; district and city traditional or local courts
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [Peter MUTHARIKA] Malawi Congress Party or MCP [Lazarus CHAKWERA] Peoples Party or PP [Joyce BANDA] United Democratic Front or UDF [Atupele MULUZI] United Transformation Movement or UTM [Saulos CHILIMA]
National symbol(s): lion;
national colors: black, red, green
National anthem: name: "Mulungu dalitsa Malawi" (Oh God Bless Our Land of Malawi)
lyrics/music: Michael-Fredrick Paul SAUKA

note: adopted 1964
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Edward Yakobe SAWERENGERA (since 16 September 2016)
chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 721-0270
FAX: [1] (202) 721-0288
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert SCOTT (since 6 August 2019)
embassy: 16 Jomo Kenyatta Road, Lilongwe 3
mailing address: P.O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
telephone: 265 (0) 1773166
FAX: 265 (0) 1770471
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Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports, although Malawi is looking to diversify away from tobacco to other cash crops. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. Donors halted direct budget support from 2013 to 2016 because of concerns about corruption and fiscal carelessness, but the World Bank resumed budget support in May 2017. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program but recent increases in domestic borrowing mean that debt servicing in 2016 exceeded the levels prior to HIPC debt relief. Heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, with corn being the staple crop, Malawi’s economy was hit hard by the El Nino-driven drought in 2015 and 2016, and now faces threat from the fall armyworm. The drought also slowed economic activity, led to two consecutive years of declining economic growth, and contributed to high inflation rates. Depressed food prices over 2017 led to a significant drop in inflation (from an average of 21.7% in 2016 to 12.3% in 2017), with a similar drop in interest rates.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $22.42 billion (2017 est.) $21.56 billion (2016 est.) $21.08 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $6.24 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2017 est.) 2.3% (2016 est.) 3% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,200 (2017 est.) $1,200 (2016 est.) $1,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 3.9% of GDP (2017 est.) -2.8% of GDP (2016 est.) 2.8% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 84.3% (2017 est.) government consumption: 16.3% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 15.3% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 27.9% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -43.8% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 28.6% (2017 est.) industry: 15.4% (2017 est.) services: 56% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: tobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee; cattle, goats
Industries: tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate: 1.2% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 7 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 76.9%
industry: 4.1%
services: 19% (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate: 20.4% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line: 50.7% (2010 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.2%
highest 10%: 37.5% (2010 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 46.1 (2010) 39 (2004)
Budget: revenues: 1.356 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 1.567 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 21.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -3.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 59.2% of GDP (2017 est.) 60.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12.2% (2017 est.) 21.7% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$591 million (2017 est.) -$744 million (2016 est.)
Exports: $1.42 billion (2017 est.) $1.361 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: tobacco (55%), dried legumes (8.8%), sugar (6.7%), tea (5.7%), cotton (2%), peanuts, coffee, soy (2015 est.)
Exports - partners: Zimbabwe 13.1%, Mozambique 11.8%, Belgium 10.7%, South Africa 6.3%, Netherlands 5%, UK 4.7%, Germany 4.3%, US 4.2% (2017)
Imports: $2.312 billion (2017 est.) $2.277 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
Imports - partners: South Africa 20.7%, China 14.2%, India 11.6%, UAE 7%, Netherlands 4.4% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $780.2 million (31 December 2017 est.) $585.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $2.102 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $1.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $142.5 million (2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: n/a
Market value of publicly traded shares: $18.97 million (31 December 2017 est.) $8.643 million (31 December 2016 est.) $101.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rates: Malawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar - 731.69 (2017 est.) 720.1 (2016 est.) 713.85 (2015 est.) 499.6 (2014 est.) 424.9 (2013 est.)
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Electricity - production: 1.42 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 1.321 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 375,000 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 1% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 93% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 6% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 6,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 4,769 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 1.082 million Mt (2017 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 7,772,503
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 40 (2017 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: rudimentary; 2 fixed-line and 3 mobile-cellular operators govern the market; some mobile services to rural areas; in a resolution to discourage crime the regulatory has imposed SIM card registration since 2018; 50 licensed ISPs; DSL services are available; LTE services are available (2018)

domestic: limited fixed-line subscribership less than 1 per 100 households; mobile-cellular services are expanding but network coverage is limited and is based around the main urban areas; mobile-cellular subscribership approaching 40 per 100 households (2018)

international: country code - 265; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Atlantic Ocean); recent access to international submarine fiber cable via neighboring countries
Broadcast media: radio is the main broadcast medium; privately owned Zodiak radio has the widest national broadcasting reach, followed by state-run radio; numerous private and community radio stations broadcast in cities and towns around the country; the largest TV network is government-owned, but at least 4 private TV networks broadcast in urban areas; relays of multiple international broadcasters are available (2019)
Internet country code: .mw
Internet users: total: 1,785,369
percent of population: 9.6% (July 2016 est.)
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Airports: 32 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 7
(2017) over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 25
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 11 (2013)
under 914 m: 13 (2013)
Railways: total 767 km
narrow gauge: 767 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total 15,452 km
(2015) paved: 4,074 km (2015)
unpaved: 11,378 km (2015)
Waterways: 700 km (on Lake Nyasa [Lake Malawi] and Shire River) (2010)
Ports and terminals: lake port(s): Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Chilumba (Lake Nyasa)
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Military branches: Malawi Defense Force (MDF): Army (includes Air Wing, Marine Unit); note - a 2017 amendment to Malawi’s Defense Force Act established a separate Army, Air Force, and Maritime Force within the MDF, but these services have yet to develop independent budgets, chains of command, and training institutions (2019)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; high school equivalent required for enlisted recruits and college equivalent for officer recruits; initial engagement is 7 years for enlisted personnel and 10 years for officers (2014)
Military expenditures: 0.61% of GDP (2016) 0.7% of GDP (2015) 0.89% of GDP (2014) 1.24% of GDP (2013) 0.82% of GDP (2012)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River; Malawi contends that the entire lake up to the Tanzanian shoreline is its territory, while Tanzania claims the border is in the center of the lake; the conflict was reignited in 2012 when Malawi awarded a license to a British company for oil exploration in the lake
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 24,340 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers), 8,752 (Burundi) (refugees and asylum seekers), 6,606 (Rwanda) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2019)
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   Source: CIA - The World Factbook

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