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 Binguwa 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, MUTHARIKA has overseen substantial economic improvement but because of political deadlock in the legislature, his minority party has been unable to pass significant legislation, and anti-corruption measures have stalled. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.


Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E
Population:  16,323,044 (July 2012 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: 45.1% (male 3,586,696/female 3,571,298)

15-64 years: 52.2% (male 4,140,874/female 4,155,015)

65 years and over: 2.7% (male 182,304/female 243,065) (2011 est.)

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

Government type: multiparty democracy
Capital: name: Lilongwe

geographic coordinates: 13 59 S, 33 47 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Telephones – main lines in use: 160,100 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 3.038 million (2009)
Airports: 31 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 7

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2012)

Military branches: Malawi Defence Forces (MDF): Army (includes Air Wing, Marine Unit) (2009)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; standard obligation is 2 years of active duty and 5 years reserve service (2007)


Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world’s most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 85% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture 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. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In December 2007, the US granted Malawi eligibility status to receive financial support within the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) initiative.


Malawi will now begin a consultative process to develop a five-year program before funding can begin. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. 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. In 2005, President MUTHARIKA championed an anticorruption campaign. Since 2005 President MUTHARIKA’S government has exhibited improved financial discipline under the guidance of Finance Minister Goodall GONDWE and signed a three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility worth $56 million with the IMF. Improved relations with the IMF lead other international donors to resume aid as well.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River remain dormant