macrohistory & world report

Republic of Malawi

Malawi placed on a map with its neighbors

Malawi, its capital Lilongwe, amid neighboring states in eastern Africa

World Factbook: as of November 2014: "Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture, which has benefited from fertilizer subsidies since 2006, accounts for one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations... Since 2009, however, Malawi has experienced some setbacks, including a general shortage of foreign exchange, which has damaged its ability to pay for imports, and fuel shortages that hinder transportation and productivity. Investment has fallen continuously for several years and in 2013 amounted to just 13% of GDP. The government has failed to address barriers to investment such as unreliable power, water shortages, poor telecommunications infrastructure, and the high costs of services. Donors, who provided an average of 36% of government revenue in the past five years, suspended general budget support for Malawi in 2011 due to a negative IMF review and governance issues."

Economic growth rate
2011: 4.6%
2010: 6.5%
2009: 9%

Labor force in agriculture
2003: 90%

Export commodities
tobacco 53%, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel

Export partners
2009: India 10.4%, Germany 9.7%, South Africa 7.5%, Russia 7.4%, Zimbabwe 7.4%, Canada 6.4%, US 6.3%, Netherlands 4.7%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $0.922 billion, imports $1.694 billion

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 39th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 4.8% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 20%

Ethnic groups
Chewa 32.6%, Lomwe 17.6%, Yao 13.5%, Ngoni 11.5%, Tumbuka 8.8%, Nyanja 5.8%, Sena 3.6%, Tonga 2.1%, Ngonde 1%, other 3.5%

1998 census: Christian 82.7%, Muslim 13%, other 1.9%, none 2.5%


Southern Africa along Lake Nyasa, east of Zambia, the southern half surrounded by Mozambique. About 200 kilometers east and west and south and 1000 kilometers north and south (125 by 625 miles).


Independence from Britain in 1964. Single party rule until 1994. Executive: president, chief of state and head of government, elected by popular vote to five-year term. Unicameral legislature, members elected by popular vote to five-year terms.

Recent History

1964: the British protectorate of Nyasaland becomes the independent nation of Malawi.

1994: After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, multiparty elections are held.

March 2010: In Malawi, homosexual acts carry a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.