Author Helena Smith discusses the range of music styles you can expect to hear on a trip to Malawi.Read more...
Malawi - At a glance
Malawi at a glance
Location Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Border countries Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique
Climate November–March, hot and wet; April–August, moderate and dry; September–October, hot and dry
Population 19 million (2018 estimate)
Life expectancy 59 years (men), 63 years (women)
Capital Lilongwe (estimated population 1 million)
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. Rain-fed crops such as corn provide staple food, and are vulnerable to changing weather patterns. Performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth.
Inflation 11.7% (2018 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 exchange 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 Arthur Peter Mutharika (president) (as of January 2019)
Ruling party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) (as of January 2019)
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)