|General background: Established in 1891, the
British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent
nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party
rule, the country held multiparty elections in 1994
under a provisional constitution, which took full effect
the following year. National multiparty elections were
held again in 1999.
Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.
Sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season
(May to November)
Terrain: Narrow elongated
plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao,
Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Religions: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic
20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 3%, other 2%
Language: English (official), Chichewa (official),
other languages important regionally
Government type: Multiparty democracy
Legal system: Based on English common law
and customary law; judicial review of legislative
acts in the Supreme Court of Appeal; has not accepted
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Landlocked Malawi ranks
among the world's least developed countries. The economy
is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the
population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts
for 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues. The economy
depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance
from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor
nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief
under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program.
The government faces strong challenges, e.g., to fully
develop a market economy, to improve educational facilities,
to face up to environmental problems, and to deal
with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS. The
performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term
Communication/Telephone system: System employs
open-wire lines, microwave radio relay links, and
radiotelephone communications stations.
Places of interest: It's a real nature-lover's
destination: lots of national parks and game reserves,
mountain hiking and plateau trekking and the massive
Lake Malawi, great for diving, boating or lazing about.
The country's reliable transport and compact size
make getting about a snap. A broad range of accommodation
and activities makes it possible to have a great time
whether you're pinching pennies or blowing the bank.