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 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)

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Malawi articles

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Malawi's music

Author Helena Smith discusses the range of music styles you can expect to hear on a trip to Malawi.

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500 elephants on the move in Malawi

One of the largest and most significant elephant translocations in human history has taken place in Malawi, helping secure the future for the country’s elephants.

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A lifeline for wildlife

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the Government of Malawi, work to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned, injured and confiscated wild animals.

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