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Africa :: Malawi Print
Page last updated on October 09, 2020
  • Introduction :: Malawi
  • Background field listing
    From the late 15th to the 18th centuries, a prosperous Kingdom of Maravi - from which the name Malawi derives - extended its reach into what are now areas of Zambia and Mozambique. British missionary and trading activity increased in the area around Lake Malawi in the second half of the 19th century. In 1889, a British Central African Protectorate was established, which was renamed Nyasaland in 1907, and which became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA, the country held multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Bakili MULUZI became the first freely elected president of Malawi when he won the presidency in 1994; he won re-election in 1999. President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in 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 in 2005. MUTHARIKA was reelected to a second term in 2009. He oversaw some economic improvement in his first term, but was accused of economic mismanagement and poor governance in his second term. He died abruptly in 2012 and was succeeded by vice president, Joyce BANDA, who had earlier started her own party, the People's Party. MUTHARIKA's brother, Peter MUTHARIKA, defeated BANDA in the 2014 election. Peter MUTHARIKA was reelected in a disputed 2019 election that resulted in countrywide protests. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.
  • Geography :: Malawi
  • Location field listing
    Southern Africa, east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    13 30 S, 34 00 E
    Map references field listing
    Area field listing
    total: 118,484 sq km
    land: 94,080 sq km
    water: 24,404 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Area - comparative field listing
    slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
    Area comparison map: Area comparison map
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 2,857 km
    border countries (3): Mozambique 1498 km, Tanzania 512 km, Zambia 847 km
    Coastline field listing
    0 km (landlocked)
    Maritime claims field listing
    none (landlocked)
    Climate field listing
    sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)
    Terrain field listing
    narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 779 m
    lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
    highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m
    Natural resources field listing
    limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 59.2% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 38.2% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 1.4% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 19.6% (2011 est.)
    forest: 34% (2011 est.)
    other: 6.8% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    740 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    population density is highest south of Lake Nyasa as shown in this population distribution map
    Natural hazards field listing
    flooding; droughts; earthquakes
    Environment - current issues field listing
    deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations; negative effects of climate change (extreme high temperatures, changing precipatation pattens)
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
    Geography - note field listing
    landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature; it contains more fish species than any other lake on earth
  • People and Society :: Malawi
  • Population field listing
    21,196,629 (July 2020 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

    country comparison to the world: 60
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Malawian(s)
    adjective: Malawian
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Chewa 34.3%, Lomwe 18.8%, Yao 13.2%, Ngoni 10.4%, Tumbuka 9.2%, Sena 3.8%, Mang'anja 3.2%, Tonga 1.8%, Nyanja 1.8%, Nkhonde 1%, other 2.2%, foreign .3% (2018 est.)
    Languages field listing
    English (official), Chewa (common), Lambya, Lomwe, Ngoni, Nkhonde, Nyakyusa, Nyanja, Sena, Tonga, Tumbuka, Yao
    note: Chewa and Nyanja are mutually intelligible dialects; Nkhonde and Nyakyusa are mutually intelligible dialects
    Religions field listing
    Protestant 33.5% (includes Church of Central Africa Presbyterian 14.2%, Seventh Day Adventist/Baptist 9.4%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Anglican 2.3%), Roman Catholic 17.2%, other Christian 26.6%, Muslim 13.8%, traditionalist 1.1%, other 5.6%, none 2.1% (2018 est.)
    Demographic profile field listing

    Malawi has made great improvements in maternal and child health, but has made less progress in reducing its high fertility rate. In both rural and urban areas, very high proportions of mothers are receiving prenatal care and skilled birth assistance, and most children are being vaccinated. Malawi’s fertility rate, however, has only declined slowly, decreasing from more than 7 children per woman in the 1980s to about 5.5 today. Nonetheless, Malawians prefer smaller families than in the past, and women are increasingly using contraceptives to prevent or space pregnancies. Rapid population growth and high population density is putting pressure on Malawi’s land, water, and forest resources. Reduced plot sizes and increasing vulnerability to climate change, further threaten the sustainability of Malawi’s agriculturally based economy and will worsen food shortages. About 80% of the population is employed in agriculture.

    Historically, Malawians migrated abroad in search of work, primarily to South Africa and present-day Zimbabwe, but international migration became uncommon after the 1970s, and most migration in recent years has been internal. During the colonial period, Malawians regularly migrated to southern Africa as contract farm laborers, miners, and domestic servants. In the decade and a half after independence in 1964, the Malawian Government sought to transform its economy from one dependent on small-scale farms to one based on estate agriculture. The resulting demand for wage labor induced more than 300,000 Malawians to return home between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. In recent times, internal migration has generally been local, motivated more by marriage than economic reasons.

    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 45.87% (male 4,843,107/female 4,878,983)
    15-24 years: 20.51% (male 2,151,417/female 2,195,939)
    25-54 years: 27.96% (male 2,944,936/female 2,982,195)
    55-64 years: 2.98% (male 303,803/female 328,092)
    65 years and over: 2.68% (male 249,219/female 318,938) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 83.9
    youth dependency ratio: 79.1
    elderly dependency ratio: 4.9
    potential support ratio: 20.6 (2020 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 16.8 years
    male: 16.7 years
    female: 16.9 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 222
    Population growth rate field listing
    3.3% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    Birth rate field listing
    40.1 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    Death rate field listing
    7.2 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    Net migration rate field listing
    0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    Population distribution field listing
    population density is highest south of Lake Nyasa as shown in this population distribution map
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 17.4% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 4.19% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    1.122 million LILONGWE (capital), 932,000 Blantyre-Limbe (2020)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Mother's mean age at first birth field listing
    18.9 years (2015/16 est.)

    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    349 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 31
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 39.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 45.8 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 33.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 63.2 years
    male: 61.2 years
    female: 65.3 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    Total fertility rate field listing
    5.31 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    59.2% (2015/16)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 95.9% of population
    rural: 87.3% of population
    total: 88.7% of population
    unimproved: urban: 4.1% of population
    rural: 12.7% of population
    total: 11.3% of population (2017 est.)
    Current Health Expenditure field listing
    9.6% (2017)
    Physicians density field listing
    0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 58.2% of population
    rural: 35.9% of population
    total: 39.6% of population
    unimproved: urban: 41.8% of population
    rural: 64.1% of population
    total: 60.4% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    9.2% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    1 million (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 10
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    13,000 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    Major infectious diseases field listing
    degree of risk: very high (2020)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
    water contact diseases: schistosomiasis
    animal contact diseases: rabies
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    5.8% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    11.8% (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    Education expenditures field listing
    4% of GDP (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 62.1%
    male: 69.8%
    female: 55.2% (2015)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 11 years
    male: 11 years
    female: 11 years (2011)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 40.5%
    male: 33.1%
    female: 47.7% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 10
  • Government :: Malawi
  • Country name field listing
    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
    etymology: named for the East African Maravi Kingdom of the 16th century; the word "maravi" means "fire flames"
    Government type field listing
    presidential republic
    Capital field listing
    name: Lilongwe
    geographic coordinates: 13 58 S, 33 47 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: named after the Lilongwe River that flows through the city
    Administrative divisions field listing
    28 districts; Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga, Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Neno, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba
    Independence field listing
    6 July 1964 (from the UK)
    National holiday field listing
    Independence Day, 6 July (1964); note - also called Republic Day since 6 July 1966
    Constitution field listing
    history: previous 1953 (preindependence), 1966; latest drafted January to May 1994, approved 16 May 1994, entered into force 18 May 1995
    amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage of amendments affecting constitutional articles, including the sovereignty and territory of the state, fundamental constitutional principles, human rights, voting rights, and the judiciary, requires majority approval in a referendum and majority approval by the Assembly; passage of other amendments requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly; amended several times, last in 2017
    International law organization participation field listing
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Citizenship field listing
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Malawi
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Lazarus CHAKWERA (since 28 June 2020); Vice President Saulos CHILIMA (since 3 February 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Lazarus CHAKWERA (since 28 June 2020); Vice President Saulos CHILIMA (since 3 February 2020)
    cabinet: Cabinet named by the president
    elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 June 2020 (next to be held in 2025)
    election results: Lazarus CHAKWERA elected president; Lazarus CHAKWERA (MCP) 59.3%, Peter Mutharika (DPP) 39.9%, other 0.7%
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
    elections: last held on 21 May 2019 (next to be held in May 2024)
    election results: percent of vote by party - n/a; seats by party - DPP 62, MCP 55, UDF 10, PP 5, other 5, independent 55, vacant 1; composition - men 161, women 32, percent of women 16.6%
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and at least 3 judges)
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president and confirmed by the National Assembly; other judges appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, which regulates judicial officers; judges serve until age 65
    subordinate courts: High Court; magistrate courts; Industrial Relations Court; district and city traditional or local courts
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [Peter MUTHARIKA]
    Malawi Congress Party or MCP [Lazarus CHAKWERA]
    Peoples Party or PP [Joyce BANDA]
    United Democratic Front or UDF [Atupele MULUZI]
    United Transformation Movement or UTM [Saulos CHILIMA]
    International organization participation field listing
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    Ambassador Edward Yakobe SAWERENGERA (since 16 September 2016)
    chancery: 2408 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 721-0270
    FAX: [1] (202) 721-0288
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador Robert SCOTT (since 6 August 2019)
    telephone: 265 (0) 1773166
    embassy: 16 Jomo Kenyatta Road, Lilongwe 3
    mailing address: P.O. Box 30016, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
    FAX: 265 (0) 1770471
    Flag description field listing
    three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centered on the black band; black represents the native peoples, red the blood shed in their struggle for freedom, and green the color of nature; the rising sun represents the hope of freedom for the continent of Africa
    National symbol(s) field listing
    lion; national colors: black, red, green
    National anthem field listing
    name: "Mulungu dalitsa Malawi" (Oh God Bless Our Land of Malawi)
    lyrics/music: Michael-Fredrick Paul SAUKA

    note: adopted 1964

  • Economy :: Malawi
  • Economy - overview field listing

    Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports, although Malawi is looking to diversify away from tobacco to other cash crops.

    The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. Donors halted direct budget support from 2013 to 2016 because of concerns about corruption and fiscal carelessness, but the World Bank resumed budget support in May 2017. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program but recent increases in domestic borrowing mean that debt servicing in 2016 exceeded the levels prior to HIPC debt relief.

    Heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, with corn being the staple crop, Malawi’s economy was hit hard by the El Nino-driven drought in 2015 and 2016, and now faces threat from the fall armyworm. The drought also slowed economic activity, led to two consecutive years of declining economic growth, and contributed to high inflation rates. Depressed food prices over 2017 led to a significant drop in inflation (from an average of 21.7% in 2016 to 12.3% in 2017), with a similar drop in interest rates.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $22.42 billion (2017 est.)
    $21.56 billion (2016 est.)
    $21.08 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 145
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $6.24 billion (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    4% (2017 est.)
    2.3% (2016 est.)
    3% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $1,200 (2017 est.)
    $1,200 (2016 est.)
    $1,200 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 223
    Gross national saving field listing
    3.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
    -2.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
    2.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 178
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 84.3% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 16.3% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 15.3% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 27.9% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -43.8% (2017 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 28.6% (2017 est.)
    industry: 15.4% (2017 est.)
    services: 56% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    tobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee; cattle, goats
    Industries field listing
    tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    1.2% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    Labor force field listing
    7 million (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 76.9%
    industry: 4.1%
    services: 19% (2013 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    20.4% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 187
    Population below poverty line field listing
    50.7% (2010 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 2.2%
    highest 10%: 37.5% (2010 est.)
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 1.356 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 1.567 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    21.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -3.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Public debt field listing
    59.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
    60.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 July - 30 June
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    12.2% (2017 est.)
    21.7% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    Current account balance field listing
    -$591 million (2017 est.)
    -$744 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    Exports field listing
    $1.42 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.361 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    Exports - partners field listing
    Zimbabwe 13.1%, Mozambique 11.8%, Belgium 10.7%, South Africa 6.3%, Netherlands 5%, UK 4.7%, Germany 4.3%, US 4.2% (2017)
    Exports - commodities field listing
    tobacco (55%), dried legumes (8.8%), sugar (6.7%), tea (5.7%), cotton (2%), peanuts, coffee, soy (2015 est.)
    Imports field listing
    $2.312 billion (2017 est.)
    $2.277 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    Imports - commodities field listing
    food, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
    Imports - partners field listing
    South Africa 20.7%, China 14.2%, India 11.6%, UAE 7%, Netherlands 4.4% (2017)
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $780.2 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $585.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 140
    Debt - external field listing
    $2.102 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Exchange rates field listing
    Malawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar -
    731.69 (2017 est.)
    720.1 (2016 est.)
    713.85 (2015 est.)
    499.6 (2014 est.)
    424.9 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Malawi
  • Electricity access field listing
    population without electricity: 17 million (2017)
    electrification - total population: 11% (2016)
    electrification - urban areas: 42% (2016)
    electrification - rural areas: 4% (2016)
    Electricity - production field listing
    1.42 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    1.321 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 150
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    375,000 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    1% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    93% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    6% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    6,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    4,769 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    1.082 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 167
  • Communications :: Malawi
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 14,992
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 187
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 7,076,906
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 36 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: rudimentary; 2 fixed-line and 3 mobile-cellular operators govern the market; some mobile services to rural areas; in a resolution to discourage crime the regulatory has imposed SIM card registration since 2018; 50 licensed ISPs; DSL services are available; LTE services are available; mobile penetration low in comparison to the region average; potential for growth; national fiber backbone nearing completion; prospect of gaining access to international submarine fiber optic cables from neighboring countries (2020)
    domestic: limited fixed-line subscribership less than 1 per 100 households; mobile-cellular services are expanding but network coverage is limited and is based around the main urban areas; mobile-cellular subscribership 36 per 100 households (2018)
    international: country code - 265; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Atlantic Ocean) (2019)
    note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    radio is the main broadcast medium; privately owned Zodiak radio has the widest national broadcasting reach, followed by state-run radio; numerous private and community radio stations broadcast in cities and towns around the country; the largest TV network is government-owned, but at least 4 private TV networks broadcast in urban areas; relays of multiple international broadcasters are available (2019)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 2,734,305
    percent of population: 13.78% (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 103
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 11,358
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
  • Military and Security :: Malawi
  • Military and security forces field listing
    Malawi Defense Force (MDF): Army (includes Air Wing, Marine Unit); note - a 2017 amendment to Malawi’s Defense Force Act established a separate Army, Air Force, and Maritime Force within the MDF, but these services have yet to develop independent budgets, chains of command, and training institutions (2019)
    Military expenditures field listing
    0.9% of GDP (2019)
    0.85% of GDP (2018)
    0.76% of GDP (2017)
    0.64% of GDP (2016)
    0.63% of GDP (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    Military and security service personnel strengths field listing
    size estimates for the Malawi Defense Force vary; approximately 8,000 personnel (including about 200 in the Air Wing and 200 in the Marine Unit) (2019 est.)
    Military equipment inventories and acquisitions field listing
    the Malawi Defense Force inventory is comprised of mostly obsolescent or second-hand equipment from France, Germany, South Africa, and the UK; since 2010, it has taken deliveries of additional second-hand equipment from South Africa (2012-15) and the UK (2015), as well as new patrol boats from China (2019) and non-lethal equipment donated by the US (2019) (2019)
    Military deployments field listing
    850 Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) (April 2020)
    Military service age and obligation field listing
    18 years of age for voluntary military service; high school equivalent required for enlisted recruits and college equivalent for officer recruits; initial engagement is 7 years for enlisted personnel and 10 years for officers (2014)
  • Transportation :: Malawi
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 9
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 10,545 (2018)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 10,000 mt-km (2018)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    7Q (2016)
    Airports field listing
    32 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 112
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 7 (2019)
    over 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
    914 to 1,523 m: 4
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 25 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 11 (2013)
    under 914 m: 13 (2013)
    Railways field listing
    total: 767 km (2014)
    narrow gauge: 767 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    Roadways field listing
    total: 15,452 km (2015)
    paved: 4,074 km (2015)
    unpaved: 11,378 km (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Waterways field listing
    700 km (on Lake Nyasa [Lake Malawi] and Shire River) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Ports and terminals field listing
    lake port(s): Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Chilumba (Lake Nyasa)
  • Transnational Issues :: Malawi
  • Disputes - international field listing

    dispute with Tanzania over the boundary in Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and the meandering Songwe River; Malawi contends that the entire lake up to the Tanzanian shoreline is its territory, while Tanzania claims the border is in the center of the lake; the conflict was reignited in 2012 when Malawi awarded a license to a British company for oil exploration in the lake

    Refugees and internally displaced persons field listing
    refugees (country of origin): 8,752 (Burundi) (refugees and asylum seekers), 6,606 (Rwanda) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2019); 29,007 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2020)