Malawi - At a glance


Malawi at a glance

Location Southern Africa, east of Zambia

Border countries Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique

Area 118,484km²

Climate November–March, hot and wet; April–August, moderate and dry; September–October, hot and dry

Status Republic

Population 18 million (2016 estimate)

Life expectancy 58 years (men), 61 years (women)

Capital Lilongwe (estimated 2009 population 821,000)

Other main towns Blantyre, Mzuzu, Zomba and Karonga

Economy Predominantly agricultural. Depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank and individual donor nations. Performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth. Untapped oil reserves promise to fuel the energy sector.

Inflation 23.4% (February 2016 estimate)

Language English (official) widely spoken by most Malawians. Chichewa 57.2% (national language), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6%.

Religion Approximately 80% Christian (mostly Roman Catholic and Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP)), 13% Muslim, 4% traditional animism; remainder a selection of other faiths and sects

People About 11 groups: Chewa in Central Region; Yao along the lakeshore districts of Central and Southern regions; Lomwe mainly in the Shire Highlands; Nkonde, Lambya, Nyanja, Tonga and Tumbuka in Northern Region; Ngoni in the north and centre; Sena in Chikwawa; Nsanje in the south, as well as Asian and European

Currency Malawian kwacha (Mk) (for up-to-date rates, go to www.xe.com)

International dialling code +265

Time GMT +2

Electricity AC 240V

Flag Three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centred in the black band. The flag was briefly changed from 2010–2012, with three horizontal bands of red (top), black and green with a white sun in the black band. It has since returned to the original.

Type of government Democratic republic

Head of state Joyce Banda (president)

Ruling party People’s Party

Independence (from the UK) 6 July 1964

National parks Lake Malawi, Liwonde, Nyika, Kasungu and Lengwe

Wildlife reserves Vwaza, Nkhotakota, Majete and Mwabvi

Forest reserves 70, including South Viphya, Ntchisi, Namizimu, Dzalanyama, Thuma, Chongoni, Dedza, Zomba Mountain and Mulanje Mountain

Public holidays 1 January (New Year’s Day); 15 January (John Chilembwe Day); 3 March (Martyrs’ Day); 1 May (Labour Day); 14 May (Kamuzu Day); 14 June (Freedom Day); 6 July (Independence Day); 15 October (Mother’s Day); 25–26 December (Christmas)

Back to the top

Malawi articles

View all

9 runs around the world

Some of our favourite alternative marathons from around the world.

Read more...

Paradise found – Africa’s most exclusive islands

The Caribbean has long been championed as the destination for luxury, but Africa has its fair share of exclusive resorts. 

Read more...

Africa’s unsung national parks

Away from the conveyor belt crowds being funneled through some of the more famous parks, these are the destinations that we think will offer you the very best safari experiences in 2017.

Read more...

Related guides and other books

View all