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Map and Basic Facts about Malawi

Malawi is in Southern Africa, east of Zambia.

Land Boundaries:
Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, and Zambia 837 km.

The size of Malawi is 118,480 sq km, slightly smaller than Pennsylvania, US. The terrain is made up of a narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, and some mountains. Lake Malawi, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature. The climate is sub-tropical; with a rainy season (November to May); and a dry season (May to November). The lowest point in Malawi is at the junction of the Shire River and the border of Mozambique, at 37m above sea level. The highest point is Sapitwa the highest peak on the Mulanje Mountain which stands at 3,002 m. Malawi is a landlocked country.

Just over 13 million people live in Malawi. Life expectancy is around 41 years. Birth rate is on average 5.9 per woman. 14% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS. Literacy rate is just over 62%.

Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, and other 3.6%.

Ethnic Groups:
Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, and European

Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, and none 4.3%

Political History:
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 a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, has struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor, who still leads their shared political party. Mutharika's anti-corruption efforts have led to several high-level arrests and one prominent conviction. Increasing corruption, population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for the country.

Economic 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 36% of GDP and 80% of export revenues in 2005. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for over 60% 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, President Mutharika championed an anticorruption campaign. Malawi's recent fiscal policy performance has been very strong, but a serious drought in 2005 and 2006 will heighten pressure on the government to increase spending.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Further Reading:
Malawi Travel Guide
Safari Planner
Tips for a Successful Safari
How to Avoid Malaria

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