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Republic of Malawi (English)
Dziko la Malaŵi (Chichewa)
Republic of Malawi
Malawi flag
Malawi coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : "Unity and Freedom"

English for "unity and freedom"

Official language English , Chichewa
Capital Lilongwe
Form of government republic
Government system Presidential system
Head of state , also head of government President Lazarus Chakwera
surface 118,484 km²
population 17,563,749 (as of 2018)
Population density 148 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 3.32% (2016 estimate)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nom.)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 6.901 billion ( 148. )
  • $ 23.661 billion ( 142. )
  • 350 USD ( 190. )
  • 1,200 USD ( 187. )
Human Development Index 0.477 ( 171. ) (2017)
currency Malawi-Kwacha (MWK)
independence July 6, 1964
(from the UK )
National anthem Mulungu dalitsa Malaŵi
Time zone UTC + 2
License Plate MW
ISO 3166 MW , MWI, 454
Internet TLD .mw
Telephone code +265
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Malawi [ maˈlaːvi ] ( Chichewa : Dziko la Malaŵi ; English : Republic of Malawi [ məˈlɑːwɪ ]) is a landlocked country in Southeast Africa that gained independence from the United Kingdom on July 6, 1964 . Malawi had around 18 million inhabitants in 2018, the capital is Lilongwe .



The north-south extension is 850 km, the west-east extension 350 km. The outer border has a length of 2881 km, 475 km to Tanzania in the north, 1569 km to Mozambique in the east, south and southwest and 837 km to Zambia in the west.

National nature

The country's area covers 118,484 km² ( world rank 99 ), of which 31% forest and scrubland, 25% water area, 20% arable land, 15% meadows and pastures.

Malawi is almost entirely in the area of ​​the East African rift valley system . The landscape is dominated by plateaus overlooked by individual island mountains, wide plains and Lake Malawi (formerly Njassasee , njassa = "lake" on Chichewa ). The northern region is mountainous; the highest peaks rise here up to 3000 meters above sea level. With an area of ​​about 29,600 km², 570 kilometers in length and a width of up to 80 kilometers, Lake Malawi is the largest lake in Malawi and also the third largest inland body of water in Africa; it belongs mainly to the Malawian national territory. The islands of Chizumulu and Likoma belong to Malawi, but are an enclave in the territorial waters of Mozambique. The rift valley continues south of the lake.

The Mulanje massif, protruding from a plain with green tea plantations, forms the highest elevation in the country, the highest mountain is the Sapitwa at 3002 m. The longest river is the Shire with a length of 402 km. As the southern outflow of Lake Malawi, the Shire initially flows through Lake Malombe and reaches the lowest point in Malawi (37 m above sea level) on the border with Mozambique, before flowing into the Zambezi in Mozambique .


Malawi has a subtropical climate with four seasons:

  • cool season between May and mid-August;
  • hot time between mid-August and November;
  • Rainy season between November and April, during this time the humidity in the morning can be almost 100%;
  • Post rain period between April and May.

In general, the highlands are cooler and more humid, while the lower areas are hotter and more humid. It is warmest at Lake Malawi, but mostly a cooling wind blows. The average temperatures vary between 19 ° C and 32 ° C from November to April and between 14 ° C and 24 ° C from May to October. July is the coolest month. The nights can be cold, especially in the mountains. There is a precipitation gradient of around 2000 mm per year in the north near the equator to almost 1000 mm in the south; the bottom of the trench in the rain shadow is barely 600 mm locally.


Lake Malawi, whose catchment area extends into Tanzania and Mozambique, dominates the country. Almost all of Malawi (around 90%) drains into the Zambezi via the Shire, the outflow from Lake Malawi . The western catchment area borders of the Shire are practically congruent with the state border. In the south-east of the country there are smaller areas that drain into either the Rovuma or the Chilwa Lake .


The flora of the region is very different. The predominant vegetation formations in the dry plains are savannahs and open grass corridors as well as light dry forest . Closed forests only occur in mountainous areas and on the wooded high plateaus. The forest in the country was previously cut down in the settlement areas, but is now being reforested on a large scale.

Natural sights

The Kapichira Waterfalls , Lake Malawi, Lake Malombes and Mulanje Mountain are all worth seeing . National parks and nature reserves in Malawi include Kasungu , Lake Malawi National Park , Lengwe , Majete Wildlife Reserve , Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve , Liwonde , the Nyika Plateau , Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve, and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve .


Demographic development of Malawi from 1960 to 2015, number of inhabitants in millions
Population pyramid of Malawi (2016)

The majority of the population lives on less than one US dollar per person per day (as of 2005).

A woman gives birth to an average of 5.5 children in her life (as of 2013, trend: falling). One of the reasons for this high fertility rate is that only 42% of women have access to modern contraceptives. The average life expectancy at birth is given as 60.7 years between 2010 and 2015 (men: 58.2 years, women: 63.1 years).

11.9% of adults (15–49 years) are HIV- positive (as of 2008). Since young people in particular are affected, this has enormous economic consequences ( see also: HIV / AIDS in Africa ). These are exacerbated by strong population growth , which is putting extreme pressure on the country and its resources, the food situation, the labor market and social benefits . In 2015 the literacy rate was 65.8%.

According to the UN's average population forecast, a population of over 41 million is expected for the year 2050.


Most of the approximately 18 million inhabitants belong to different Bantuethnia . A total of 13 different culture and language groups are distinguished.

With 49.3%, the eponymous Maravi , including the Chewa (32.6%), the Tumbuka (8.8%), the Nyanja (5.8%) and the Tonga (2.1%), are the largest them and thus form the titular nation . The Lomwe make up 17.6% of the population, the Yao 13.5% and the Ngoni 11.5%. The Sena and the Ngondo are a minority with 3.6% and 1% respectively. Other ethnic groups together make up 3.5% of the total population.

In 2017 1.3% of the population were foreigners. Most of the foreigners in the country came from Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Bantu languages are widespread . The official language is English as a legacy of colonial times. The Bantu language Chichewa is the national language. In addition, the Bantu languages Lomwe , Chiyao , Tumbuka , Chinkhonde , Chisena , Chitonga , Chinyakyusa , Chimambya , Chisenga , Chisukwa , Chingoni , Chimambwe and Chinamwanga are spoken regionally . The prefix Chi means something like "language of ...".

Data from the year 2000 of the National Statistical Office of Malawi showed the following language composition for Malawi:

language total In the countryside In the city Northern region Central region Southern Region
total 9,933,868 8,498,432 1,435,436 1,233,560 4,066,340 4,633,968
Chichewa 5,679,482 4,633,360 1,016,152 66,977 3,697,115 1,915,390
Chinyanja 1,272,205 approx. 1,178,000 94,225 10,647 34,253 1,227,305
Chiyao 999.024 921,709 77,319 9,915 112.087 877.022
Chitumbuka 939.109 812.930 126.179 793.610 120,350 25,149
Chilomwe 241,576 224,337 17,239 2,102 10,939 228,535
Chinkhonde 84,000 66,086 17,914 76.154 3,258 4,588
Chingoni 74.198 56,499 17,699 4.189 18,525 51,484
Chisena 264.172 242,646 21,526 543 5,742 257,887
Chitonga 165.654 148.352 17.302 128,296 28,739 8,619
Chinyakusa 24,824 22,956 1,868 17,260 3,867 3,697
Chilambya 44,385 39.143 5,242 39,879 2,740 1,766
Chisenga 19,959 18,554 1.405 317 17.301 2,341
English 17,479 6.314 11,165 835 7,192 9,452
Portuguese 2,458 1,669 789 250 699 1,509
Other 105.343 95.931 9.412 82,586 3,533 19,224


About 82.6 percent of the population profess Christianity , with 13 percent Malawi has a higher proportion of Muslims than the other countries in southern Africa . The remaining shares are accounted for by Baha'i , atheists (2.5 percent) and followers of traditional religions , although some of their mythological ideas have been carried over into the world religions and certain rituals are still practiced there under other names. In the entire north of up to half of the country, Christians have a population share of over 90 percent, the settlement center for Muslims is in the east south of Lake Malawi. Traditional religions are officially only practiced in a few small areas in the extreme south, especially in the district of Nsanje .


Church at Limbe

The largest Christian congregation is made up of the Catholics with around 23 percent , followed by the Church of Central Africa (CCAP), which belongs to the Presbyterians , with just under 19 percent, according to a survey from 2004 . The group of the African Independent Churches (AIP) make up about 17 percent and, like Evangelicals and Pentecostals - together about a third of Christians - are growing rapidly; the latter two are gaining supporters, especially in the cities. There are also about 2.5 percent Anglicans and a good 6 percent Seventh-day Adventists and Malawian Baptists for both, as well as the minorities of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Righteous Christians.

The first missionary to Lake Malawi was David Livingstone in 1859 . His reports of the slave trade and the need for a mission aroused interest in the area. Bishop Charles Frederick Mackenzie, as a representative of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA), founded a mission station at Zomba two years later , but died in 1862, like most of his colleagues, of malaria . His successor William Tozer retired to Zanzibar in 1863 . In 1875 Presbyterians came and founded the Livingstonia station , where the Tumbuka were the first to evangelize , while a delegation from the Church of Scotland settled in what would later become Blantyre in 1876 . The first Catholics came in 1889 in the form of the White Fathers via Mozambique, which was colonized by Portugal. In the decades that followed, missionaries from the Dutch Reformed Church from South Africa and some charismatic sects with origins in the USA followed . Missionaries of the Anglican Church in particular benefited from their proximity to the colonial power, providing the government with religious legitimation in cases of conflict.

Long-time President Banda was a Presbyterian. It was only since his successor, the Muslim Bakili Muluzi , that the freedom of religion guaranteed in Article 20 of the constitution also applies in practice to Muslims, with Banda starting a campaign for Western education of disadvantaged Muslims after 1961. Since 2004 the Catholic Bingu wa Mutharika was President and its Vice-President Muslim. Political tensions are not based on religion; most of the religious disputes took place between split off Christian factions. In the 1970s there were clashes between Christians and followers of traditional religions in the south. On the one hand, a newly arrived fundamentalist Pentecostal movement polarized , on the other, a neo-traditional church of ancestors was formed .

In 1909 the charismatic Elliot Kenan Kamwana began missionary work for Jehovah's Witnesses in Malawi. He predicted the end of the world for 1914, but was deported by the British at the end of 1909 because of his anti-colonial campaigns and did not return from Mauritius until 1937, where he secretly gained followers until his death in 1956. These were long regarded as Jehovah's Witnesses, but de facto and ultimately also formally formed their own religious community, the Mlondo or "Watchman" mission. From 1967, under President Banda, the then 18,000 followers of Kamwana were oppressed, violently persecuted and displaced by the thousands to refugee camps in Zambia and Mozambique because of their refusal to do military service and take part in ceremonies. In 1976 over 5,000 were imprisoned (the number probably also includes Jehovah's Witnesses). With the democratization in 1993, the ban on this religious community was lifted. Since then, their number has increased significantly.


Mosque in Zomba

As in the rest of Africa, Muslims in Malawi are almost exclusively Sunnis , which also includes followers of various Sufi brotherhoods ( Tariqa ) . Most Muslims can be found among the Yao in the south of Lake Malawi. Islam first came here from the 1890s through Arab traders via Mozambique and helped the Yao to offer most of the resistance to colonial rule. Sheikh Abdallah b, who was born on Lake Malawi, was primarily responsible for the spread of Islam in Malawi . Haji Mkwanda (around 1860–1930), the son of a well-known ivory trader and probably also a slave trader. He studied the Koran in Kilwa , returned to the lake in 1884, preached and distributed amulets . His most influential student was Sheikh Thabit b. Muhammad Ngaunje (around 1880–1959), who spread Islam especially among the Yao. Both taught the Koran in Arabic and Swahili , but not in local languages. The center of the Islamic faith represented for all Muslims on Lake Malawi Sultan Barghasch ibn Sa'îd of Zanzibar.

After 1900, the two tariqas Qadiriyya and Schadhiliyya began to spread inland from the Mozambique island . Most of the preachers in these Sufi orders were second-generation Muslims and were also active as traveling traders. The most important woman in Malawi's Islamic history was Mtumwa bt. Ali b. Yusufu, who had been trained in Zanzibar and brought the Qadiriyya order to Nkhotakota in 1929 , which helped many women to take a more active role within the religious community. Like some traditional ceremonies, the Muslim Yao survived matrilinearity and common law during colonial times. The ancestor worship celebrations at the end of the lamentation were celebrated under the new Islamic name Sadaka and monitored by Muslim authorities.

In contrast to the Portuguese in Mozambique, British colonial policy was tolerant of Islam, but few Muslims received Western education and good jobs. Since the late 1970s, Islam has been revived in the country through cooperation and financial support from Muslims from India and Pakistan . In the 1980s, around 30 new mosques were also financed by the African Muslims Committee from Kuwait . Islam received a visible presence, even in areas where there are hardly any Muslims. The number of madrasas also increased. Since 1986, the Islamic Development Bank has been distributing scholarships for courses in medicine and engineering in Pakistan. The result was a conservative reform Islam that challenges the previous Islam of the Sufi orders, but so far remains in the minority.

Social situation

Amnesty International's 2009 annual report found that over 86% of the population have limited access to education and health care.


In Malawi, the number of primary school students has increased from 1.9 million to 3.4 million since the introduction of free primary education in 1995. At that time only half of the children of school age went to school, today it is 80%. A main problem in the village schools is the class size of more than 80 children. There is a great shortage of teachers. In the past decade, many non-teaching teachers have been hired and many former teachers have been brought back to improve the situation. Despite these efforts, the shortage of teachers was greater in 2006 than in 2001, as many older teachers left their jobs. In 2015 the literacy rate was 65.8%.

For the first 30 years after independence, Malawi had only one university, the University of Malawi , with five constituent colleges : Chancellor College in Zomba, Polytechnic in Blantyre, Bunda College of Agriculture and College of Nursing in Lilongwe, and College of Medicine in Blantyre. Since then, three more universities have been opened: Mzuzu University in Mzuzu, Livingstonia University in Livingstonia and Ekendeti and the Catholic University of Malawi in Nguludi near Blantyre.

Medical supplies

Each district has a district hospital that has at least 100 beds. There are operating rooms, microscopes, and x-ray and sonography devices for diagnostics everywhere . The departments of ophthalmology, general medicine, dermatology, and dentistry are usually occupied. Medicines are usually given free of charge. In the big cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, the equipment is more varied and better. This health system is supplemented by medical centers in the surrounding area, which are often looked after by nurses. It is possible for one nurse to look after several medical centers .

The infant mortality rate is 66 per 1,000 births, the maternal mortality rate at 510 per 100,000 births (both as of 2013), only 54% of births can receive medical care. The high AIDS rate of 11.9% poses serious problems for the health system.

Malawi is (along with Burkina Faso ) one of the focus countries of the OneDollarGlasses activities: schoolchildren with ametropia receive glasses free of charge; Adults for the equivalent of 5 euros.

Development of life expectancy in Malawi

Period Life expectancy Period Life expectancy
1950-1955 36.3 1985-1990 46.3
1955-1960 37.2 1990-1995 46.7
1960-1965 38.4 1995-2000 46.6
1965-1970 39.5 2000-2005 47.3
1970-1975 41.8 2005-2010 53.4
1975-1980 43.8 2010-2015 60.7
1980-1985 45.6

Source: UN


Homosexuality has long been a criminal offense. Malawi's President Joyce Banda suspended all homosexuality laws in November 2012.

Human rights

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have reported for several years that attacks on people with albinism in Malawi are increasing significantly. In May 2015, the peer-reviewed UN Human Rights Council the situation of human rights in Malawi. He noted that the government had adopted 154 of the 199 recommendations. Most of the rejected recommendations, according to Amnesty International, were aimed at abolishing the death penalty and eliminating provisions in the criminal code that criminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. Among other things, the constitution lays down equality for women. According to this, laws that contain misogynistic rules are unconstitutional and are repealed by the Malawi Law Commission. In Malawi there is currently no gender equality . The proportion of women in secondary education has fallen epoch-making. The country has one of the highest rates of married girls under the age of 18 in the world. In 2015 the Malawian government passed a law that, among other things, sets the age of marriage. Since then, a woman has to be at least 18 years of age before she can enter into marriage. The literacy rate is also increasing. A widespread problem is increasing violence against women. Domestic violence against women is currently a criminal offense.


Baptist minister John Chilembwe, Malawian freedom fighter

A fossil of a Homo rudolfensis discovered by Friedemann Schrenk near Karonga proves that the area of ​​present-day Malawi was settled by early representatives of the genus Homo more than two million years ago .

The earliest demonstrable settlement by modern humans ( Homo sapiens ) was by tribes of the San . To the north of Lilongwe, stone-age drawings of this culture by hunters and gatherers can still be found in the caves of two prominent granite mountains jutting out of the landscape. The earliest Iron Age culture in southern Malawi is characterized by Nkope ceramics, which began here around 200 AD and can be traced back to the 11th century. The next detectable settlement was made by the Chewa tribe from the Luba area , although the information about the time of immigration varies between 1000 and 1480 AD depending on political or scientific opinion.

The kingdom of the Maravi is said to have been on Malawian soil before the age of colonialism . The slave trade and tribal wars emanating from East Africa, especially Zanzibar , had a detrimental effect on the northernmost region. In 1859 David Livingstone was the first European to reach Lake Malawi. In 1891 Malawi became a British protectorate, and in 1907 it was converted into the colony of Nyassaland . In 1915, when the British government ordered conscription for the colony residents, the local population revolted against foreign rule under the Baptist clergyman John Chilembwe .

1953 Nyassaland became a member of the Central African Federation .

Before independence, the colonial authorities granted blacks the right to vote and stand in the 1961 constitution, but it was limited by educational barriers and property requirements. Many women were active in the nationalist movements. In the 1961 elections, women who met education and property requirements were allowed to vote, which meant that all European women and around 10,000 black women were allowed to vote. When independence was achieved in 1964, universal suffrage and thus unrestricted women's suffrage were introduced.

On July 6, 1964, under Prime Minister Hastings Kamuzu Banda , the country gained independence as Malawi , which exactly two years later, on July 6, 1966, proclaimed the republic and became its first president. Banda ruled the country dictatorially at the head of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). This dictatorship only ended in 1993 with a peaceful referendum, which resulted in free elections in 1994 . This development was initiated by a pastoral letter from six Roman Catholic bishops under the leadership of James Chiona in 1992, in which political reforms were publicly called for for the first time in years.

In the first free elections in 1994, Bakili Muluzi was elected president of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and was re-elected in 1999. After unsuccessful attempts to amend the constitution in order to extend his presidency, he was replaced by the Bingu wa Mutharika (UDF) he wanted as his successor after the controversial election of May 20, 2004 , mainly because the opposition parties refused to act were able to agree on a common opponent. The swearing-in of the new president took place on May 24, 2004 in Blantyre in the presence of several African heads of state. Bingu wa Mutharika was re-elected in 2009 with 66.17% of the valid votes. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which he led , had almost 60% of the seats in parliament. In 2009 Mutharika failed to attempt a third term in office, which is currently prohibited by the Malawian constitution. At that time the opposition in Malawi was weak, which enabled Mutharika to implement almost all of his ideas, some of which are representative. From 2008 to 2010 a new parliament building was built in Lilongwe; In addition, in 2009 a plane was bought for the President from public funds. On April 5, 2012, Mutharika died of a heart attack. He was succeeded by the previous Vice President Joyce Banda , who took the oath of office on April 7, 2012. In 2014 Peter Mutharika became the new president. In the elections in 2019 he also received the most votes, the Constitutional Court , however, ordered a repeat of the election.


Under the Constitution of 1966, Malawi is a presidential republic in the Commonwealth . The only party allowed was the Malawi Congress Party . After a referendum in 1993, it was decided to introduce a multi-party system. According to this, the parliament, the Malawian National Assembly, has 193 members who are elected every five years. Also every five years, the head of state, the president, is determined by direct election. The most recent presidential and parliamentary elections took place on May 21, 2019. The legal system is based on British law.

In the 2019 Democracy Index of the British magazine The Economist, Malawi ranks 87th out of 167 countries and is therefore a “hybrid regime” of democratic and authoritarian elements. In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “partially free”.

Foreign policy

Malawi is a member of the United Nations , the Movement of Non-Aligned States , the Commonwealth of Nations , the African Union , the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Border conflicts

There are border disputes between Malawi and Tanzania. Malawi was awarded the whole of Lake Malawi when the colonial borders were drawn in 1890 ( Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty ). Tanzania claims the areas which, according to current international law, lie on its half of the lake. The conflict intensified when, in 2012, oil and gas were discovered on the Tanzanian side, which Malawi wants to use economically.

Administrative division

Malawi is in three administrative regions , Regions called underneath and in a total of 28 districts divided. The regions are represented by a regional administrator , while the districts are managed by a District Development Committee (DDC) chaired by a District Commissioner . Political decision-making and citizen participation take place in a decentralized manner in the districts and in a few larger cities in the so-called town or city ​​assemblies , but not at the regional level.


and the 6 districts: Chitipa , Karonga , Likoma , Mzimba , Nkhata Bay , Rumphi .
and the 9 districts: Dedza , Dowa , Kasungu , Lilongwe , Mchinji , Nkhotakota , Ntcheu , Ntchisi , Salima .
and the 13 districts: Balaka , Blantyre , Chikwawa , Chiradzulu , Machinga , Mangochi , Mulanje , Mwanza , Neno , Nsanje , Phalombe , Thyolo , Zomba .


The largest cities are (as of 2018, census): Lilongwe (989,318 inhabitants), Blantyre (800,318), Mzuzu (221,272), Zomba (105,013), Karonga (61,609), Kasungu (58,653) and Mangochi (53,498).

Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu are the only cities that have urban infrastructure and services in the European sense. All other cities are agglomerations around traditional marketplaces with schools and hospitals.


The Malawian Defense Force has a personnel strength of 25,000 soldiers and comprises

It emerged from parts of the King's African Rifles with Malawi's independence .

Malawi spent just under 0.8 percent of its economic output or $ 47 million on its armed forces in 2017.


Tobacco in the drying warehouse, Malawi

Malawi is one of the poorest economies in the world. The gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 is 295 US dollars per capita. The GDP adjusted for purchasing power was US $ 22.37 billion in 2017, or US $ 1,167 per capita. Real economic growth in the same year was 4%. The inflation rate has been very high in recent years. The economy depends on the substantial financial contributions from the IMF , the World Bank and individual donor nations. In 2003, the percentage of the population living on less than $ 1 a day was 42%. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Malawi ranks 132nd out of 137 countries (2017-2018). In the 2017 ranking according to the Economic Freedom Index , the country ranks 149th out of 180.

According to a 2017 study by Bank Credit Suisse , Malawi is the country with the lowest wealth per inhabitant. It was just $ 114 on average and $ 45 on median for each adult in the country.

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
2.42 billion 3.46 billion 4.52 billion 5.75 billion 7.73 billion 9.76 billion 10.53 billion 11.85 billion 13.00 billion 14.19 billion 15.35 billion 16.43 billion 17.05 billion 18.22 billion 19.61 billion 20.40 billion 21.13 billion 22.37 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
368 449 450 539 640 714 750 820 876 929 977 1,016 1,025 1,065 1,114 1,127 1,134 1,167
GDP growth
0.4% 4.6% 5.7% 13.8% 0.8% 3.3% 4.7% 9.6% 7.6% 8.3% 6.9% 4.9% 1.9% 5.2% 5.7% 3.0% 2.3% 4.0%
(in percent)
19.2% 10.6% 11.9% 83.1% 29.6% 15.4% 13.9% 8.0% 8.7% 8.4% 7.4% 7.6% 21.3% 28.3% 23.8% 21.9% 21.7% 11.5%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... ... ... ... 107% 28% 28% 36% 36% 30% 31% 44% 59% 55% 61% 60% 59%


Corruption is widespread in Malawi . In this case it is a kind of distribution struggle based on traditional rights, privileges and supremacy. In addition to the public budget, there is an informal one, which is significant for the stability of the country, but is enormously conflict-prone. From 2008 onwards, there were numerous business start-ups by the Chinese , so that in some cases there were unrest. To protect the local economy, the government passed a law on July 31, 2012 banning foreign traders from doing business outside of Malawi's four metropolitan areas.

The unemployment rate is given as 20.4% in 2013 and is therefore very high. Most jobs are in the informal economy and many people are underemployed. In 2013, 76.9% of the workforce worked in agriculture, 19% in the service sector and 4.1% in industry.


Tea harvest near Mulanje

The economy is predominantly agricultural ; the agricultural sector employs 90% of the population and generates almost 40% of the gross domestic product and almost 90% of export income. The main exports are tobacco , followed by tea and sugar cane , while corn is mainly grown for domestic use .

2002 was a catastrophic year of drought and widespread hunger. Since then - contrary to the advice of experts from industrialized countries - Malawi has introduced and expanded a voucher system under which farmers receive subsidized fertilizers at reduced prices. This program is said to have achieved a significant increase in agricultural production and a reduction in hunger in the country; In 2007, Malawi sold more corn to the World Food Program than any other country in southern Africa and also shipped hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

Natural resources and energy generation

Malawi has primarily bauxite and niobium deposits.

At Kayelekera in the basin of Northern Rukuru there are 11,000 t of uranium ore with a grade of 0.17%. In April 2009, the Australian company Paladin opened the Kayelekera opencast mine there, in which around 200 million US dollars have been invested so far. In 2014 the mine was closed again. Annual revenues for Malawi are said to have exceeded $ 100 million, making the open pit the country's largest source of foreign currency and contributing nearly 10% to Malawi's gross national product through jobs and supply industries.

Near Livingstonia is the Mchenga coal mine , a deposit with 2 million t (possibly 20 million) and high calorific value (0.5% S, 28.5 MJ / kg), but completely out of date equipment. There is also coal at the Lufira (0.6–50 million t, 2.2% S, 19.7 MJ / kg), at Ngana (15–50 million t, 2.2% S, 19.7 MJ / kg) ), Mwabvi (5-10 million t, 0.76% S, 17.5 MJ / kg), Lengwe (10 million t, 0.51% S, 11.5 MJ / kg), Kayerekera 0.5-5 possible 165 million t (0.6% S, 20 MJ / kg).

The heavy mineral sand on Lake Malawi near Senga contains 670,000 t of garnet , ilmenite and monazite . Near the railway line at Tengani there are 2.5 million t of such sand with an ilmenite content of 3% and 300,000 t with 0.3% rutile , an economically important titanium mineral . At Ilomba Hill there are 100,000 t with 3%, at Chilwa Island 375,000 t with 0.95%, and Thundulu 900,000 t with 0.37% niobium- containing mineral components .

At Thundulu there are also 2 million t of phosphate deposits with 17% content. At Linthipe there are 14 million t of clay , which Engineering and Foundry Co. uses for white pottery.

At Mchinji there are 1.6 megatons of quartz sand with a grade of 97.2% SiO 2 and less than 0.2% iron oxide, which are suitable for the production of glass. There are also 25 million t of quartz sand with a grade of 92.7% SiO 2 and 0.62% iron in the Chilwa sandbanks . At Katengeza and Chimutu in central Malawi there are graphite deposits with 2.7 million t.

Malawi has significant niobium and tantalum resources. The relevant metal contents are bound to rock units of nepheline syenites and carbonatites . In the west of the country, around 150 km north of the capital Lilongwe, not far from Mzimba , 40 tons of raw material were extracted in 2014 as part of the Kanyika Niobium Project and transported to the Guangzhou Research Institute of Non-ferrous Metals in China for a metallurgical pilot project . These niobium deposits have recently been explored by the Australian company Globe Metals & Mining .

Electric energy is mainly obtained from hydropower . There are corresponding dams on the Shire below Lake Malawi .


Sculpture in front of the Mua Mission

There is widespread wood carving . In addition, Portuguese influence is clearly noticeable in the manufacture of wooden chests , which Mozambican civil war refugees decorate with Moorish- inspired patterns, which was adopted by Malawian craftsmen. An independent sector with a division of labor has now established itself here. In Mua Mission near Salima there is now a recognized wood carving school.

Development aid projects are now also bearing fruit. Handicrafts made from raffia , reed, palm and corn leaves are widespread and have reached a professional level. Pottery can be found mainly in the Dedza region. A weaving mill for the disabled in Blantyre is now also self-employed.

A network of car workshops has long since spread across the country, which can now also repair newer cars. On the basis of scrapped cars , a local metalworking sector emerged that can make simple parts itself. Pots, ovens and stoves are offered nationwide from our own production. The same applies to building services .

Banking system

Malawi's financial system is controlled by the Reserve Bank of Malawi . The country's largest commercial bank , the National Bank of Malawi, has 13 branches and a number of agencies in the country. It can be found in almost every district capital, but not in the surrounding area. It works profitably and employs around 1000 people. There are also several private banks that have branches in the larger towns and some also have ATMs.

The usages of banking in Malawi differ from those in Europe mainly in that accounts cannot be overdrawn and transfers take weeks. For the account holder, only the money that is specifically booked as credit on his account is definitely available. In the case of projects, this can delay the entire planning process and make punctual salary payments impossible.

Health Education Center in Blantyre

When exchanging traveler checks (at least until 2006) the sales advice was requested. Occasionally this must also be signed and stamped. When paying with VISA (which is seldom possible) a five percent fee is required.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 1.24 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 1.03 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 3.9% of GDP .

The national debt was 62.1% of GDP in 2016.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:



Air traffic

Malawi has (as of 2013) seven airports with paved runways ( Lilongwe Kamuzu International Airport 3,047 m. Blantyre Chileka Airport 2437 m and Mzuzu Airport as well as four more with 914–1523 m) and 25 with unpaved runways (up to 2437 m).

The national airline is Malawian Airlines . Their predecessor companies were Air Malawi and Central African Airways .

The Kamuzu International Airport is regularly (currently five times a week) by the South African South African Airways (SAA) from Johannesburg and from the Kenya Airways from Nairobi and from Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa fly from. SAA flies from Johannesburg to Blantyre twice a week.

Road network

In Malawi there is left-hand traffic .

Malawi has a road network of 14,597 kilometers. In the year 2001 2773 kilometers of them paved and 11,821 km with graders maintained gravel roads. In addition, there are a number of routes that are both better and more difficult to drive.

The most important road is well developed from north to south, even if not all paved. An asphalt road leads from the Zambian border via Chipita to Karonga . The section from the Tanzanian border near Kyela / Songwe to Mzuzu has been expanded and paved with German development aid, especially the ascent into the mountains. From Mzuzu to Lilongwe is also paved throughout. A well-developed asphalt road leads from Lilongwe via Dedza to Liwonde and Zomba . The variant to Salima am See and on to Chipoka and then via Balaka to Liwonde is just as good . The asphalt road from Nkhotakota to Kasungu, built in 2006, has largely become an unpaved road due to lack of maintenance, especially in the mountainous eastern part.

A good asphalt road leads from Zomba to Blantyre. From there a very good road, built with German development aid, leads to Chikwawa and bridges the Shire River . This time closer and further following the road to Nchalo remains paved, then paved sections alternate with gravel roads. After Bangula it runs close to the river, which forms the state border with Mozambique here. From the border to the Nsanje district, the road remains a gravel road with many potholes up to the border crossing to Mozambique at the southernmost point of Malawi between the villages of Marka and Vila Nova da Fronteira .

The paved road from Lilongwe to Chipata in Zambia and the very good asphalt / gravel road from Blantyre to Mwanza and on to Tete in Mozambique are important as a connection to the west .

To the east, the paved road leads from Liwonde via Mangochi to Chiponde on the Mozambican border and from there to the port city of Nacala on the Indian Ocean . Another paved road runs from Blantyre to the south and then turning eastwards via Thyolo , Luchenza and Muloza to the Mozambican border and the neighboring border town of Milange .

Malawi had the third highest number of fatal traffic accidents in relation to the number of inhabitants in the world. In 2013, 5,732 people died in road traffic.

Long-distance bus on the way from Lilongwe to Johannesburg

bus connections

Coach buses operate on the express connection between Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. There are regular minibus connections in the rest of the country .

There are daily buses to Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare from Blantyre and Lilongwe .



Motor ship Ilala in Nkatha Bay

The motor ship Ilala runs regularly on Lake Malawi. Most of the rivers are not navigable. There is an inland port in Nsanje in the south of the country, which is connected to the Indian Ocean via the Shire and Zambezi rivers . At the moment (2012), however, there is no maritime traffic, as there is disagreement with Mozambique about the use of the Zambezi.

power grid

The Malawian network is fed by run-of-river power stations on the Shire . The requirement is around 300 MW, but the power plant capacity is only 240 MW. There are plans by a Chinese company to build a 1000 MW hydropower plant.

Telecommunications and media

Malawi has a fixed telephone network with 93,000 lines. 305 internet hosts served 46,100 internet users in 2005. The only Malawian internet provider is MalawiNet , founded in 1997. It is operated by three owners. These are ComNet from the USA (42%), Malawi Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (MPTC) (38%) and Bj Trust of Malawi (20%).

The state broadcaster in the country is the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation , which has existed since 1964 and now has 18 broadcasting locations. Two radio programs ( Radio 1 and Radio 2fm ) and one television program ( MBCtv ) are produced. The transmission also takes place via satellite . The radio station Radio 1 offers information in the languages English , Chichewa , Tumbuka , Yao , Lomwe , Sena and ChiTonga . There are also two private radio stations, FM101 since 1998 and Capital Radio 102.5 since 1999 .

In Malawi, until 1994, under the dictates of Hastings Kamuzu Banda , the press was exclusively government-oriented and dependent on the state broadcaster and the Malawi News Agency . Since then, a diverse media landscape has developed, including 11 newspapers and magazines, each with different publication cycles.

The freedom of the press is indeed guaranteed in Malawi by the 1995 Constitution, but in practice there are conflicts. This was also shown in 2011 by the death of blogger Robert Chasowa . The current law for the media is the Communications Act of 1998 . In the 2017 press freedom list published by Reporters Without Borders , Malawi was ranked 70th out of 180 countries.


In addition to its own traditional music, which includes the board zither bangwe , the xylophone valimba and vocal ensembles accompanied by drums ( ngoma ), Malawi has absorbed influences from many musical styles and passed them on to surrounding countries. After the Second World War, many dance bands performed in the guitar / banjo lineup . In the 1960s, the Kwela style from South Africa was popular in Malawi. There are also jazz bands , gospel and reggae singers and musicians who mix numerous influences, such as Esau Mwamwaya, who combines hip-hop and pop music with traditional music. After the death of the ruler Hastings Banda in 1994, the music scene in Malawi experienced a great boom. An important part of Malawi's culture are dances. The National Dance Troupe was founded in 1987 by the government. Traditional music and dances play an important role on occasions such as initiation , weddings and other rituals . This includes the great dance , which since 2005 has been one of the 90 masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity .

Child marriages are widespread.

The country has a long tradition of basket weaving and making wooden masks. The masks are used in traditional ceremonies, but are also sold to tourists elsewhere.

Several well-known writers come from Malawi, such as Jack Mapanje (* 1944), who had to emigrate to England, Legson Kayira (approx. 1942–2012), Felix Mnthali (* 1933), Frank Chipasula (* 1949), who emigrated to the USA , and David Rubadiri.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Wildlife does not provide any financial means to cultural institutions. The development of the Nanzikambe Arts theater in Blantyre is remarkable . This theater also supports groups in the field of social development. Since 2010 there has been a partnership between Nanzikambe Arts and the Stadttheater Konstanz . Up until 2012 there were three joint theater productions that were also shown in Germany.

The most popular sport is soccer, introduced by the British colonial authorities. Basketball is growing in popularity.


  • Harri Englund, Jack Mapanje (Ed.): A Democracy of Chameleons. Politics and Culture in the New Malawi. The Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala 2003. As PDF

Web links

Commons : Malawi  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Malawi  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Malawi  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Malawi  travel guide

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Coordinates: 13 °  S , 34 °  E