Country Summary

2022 population pyramid



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. 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.



total: 118,484 sq km

land: 94,080 sq km

water: 24,404 sq km


sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)

Natural resources

limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

People and Society


20,794,353 (2022 est.)

Ethnic groups

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 0.3% (2018 est.)


English (official), Chewa (common), Lambya, Lomwe, Ngoni, Nkhonde, Nyakyusa, Nyanja, Sena, Tonga, Tumbuka, Yao


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.)

Population growth rate

2.34% (2022 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Lilongwe

Executive branch

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)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (193 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)


Economic overview

low-income East African economy; primarily agrarian; investing in human capital; urban poverty increasing due to COVID-19; high public debt; endemic corruption and poor property rights; poor hydroelectric grid; localized pharmaceutical industry

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$28.44 billion (2020 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,500 (2020 est.)

Agricultural products

sweet potatoes, cassava, sugar cane, maize, mangoes/guavas, potatoes, tomatoes, pigeon peas, bananas, plantains


tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods


$1.16 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

Belgium 16%, United States 8%, Egypt 7%, South Africa 6%, Germany 6%, Kenya 5%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

tobacco, tea, raw sugar, beans, soybean products, clothing and apparel (2019)


$3.2 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

South Africa 17%, China 16%, United Arab Emirates 9%, India 9%, United Kingdom 8% (2019)

Imports - commodities

postage stamps, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, fertilizers, office machinery/parts (2019)

Exchange rates

Malawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar -

Page last updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2022