Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


Malawi (məläˈwē), officially Republic of Malawi, republic (2015 est. pop. 17,574,000), 45,200 sq mi (117,068 sq km), E central Africa. It borders on Zambia in the west, on Tanzania in the north, and on Mozambique in the east, south, and southwest. The capital is Lilongwe; Blantyre is its largest city and commercial capital.

Land and People

Malawi is long and narrow, and about 20% of its total area is made up of Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi). Several rivers flow into Lake Nyasa from the west, and the Shire River (a tributary of the Zambezi) drains the lake in the south. Both the lake and the Shire lie within the Great Rift Valley. Much of the rest of the country is made up of a plateau that averages 2,500 to 4,500 ft (762–1,372 m) in height, but reaches elevations of c.8,000 ft (2,440 m) in the north and almost 10,000 ft (3,050 m) in the south. In addition to the capital and Blantyre, other cities include Mzuzu and Zomba.

Almost all of the country's inhabitants are Bantu-speakers, and about 90% are rural agriculturalists. The Tumbuka, Ngoni, and Tonga (in the north) and the Chewa, Yao, Nguru, and Nyanja (in the center and south) are the main subgroups. About 80% of the population is Christian (mostly Presbyterian and Roman Catholic), and roughly 13% is Muslim; others follow traditional beliefs. Chichewa, spoken by about 60% of the people, is the official language; other languages have regional importance.


Malawi is among the world's least developed countries, with most of the population involved in subsistence agriculture. The principal crops are corn, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses, peanuts, and macadamia nuts. Tobacco, tea, sugarcane, cotton, and tung oil are produced on large estates; tobacco grown for export is particularly import to the economy. With the aid in part of foreign investment, Malawi has instituted a variety of agricultural development programs. Large numbers of cattle, goats, poultry, and pigs are raised.

There are small fishing and forest products industries. Deforestation has become a problem as the growing population uses more wood (the major energy source) and woodland is cleared for farms. Practically no minerals are extracted, but there are unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite. Malawi's industry is limited to the processing of tobacco, tea, sugar, and lumber and the manufacture of basic comsumer goods.

Leading imports are foodstuffs, petroleum products, manufactured consumer goods, and transportation equipment; the principal exports are tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, and apparel. The chief trade partners are South Africa, the United States, and Mozambique. Most of the country's foreign trade is conducted via Salima, a port on Lake Nyasa, which is connected by rail with the seaport of Nacala in Mozambique.


Malawi is governed under the constitution of 1994. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The unicameral legislature consists of the 193-seat National Assembly, whose members are also elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Administratively, Malawi is divided into 27 districts.


Early History and Colonialism

The first inhabitants of present-day Malawi were probably related to the San (Bushmen). Between the 1st and 4th cent. A.D., Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to present-day Malawi. A new wave of Bantu-speaking peoples arrived around the 14th cent., and they soon coalesced into the Maravi kingdom (late 15th–late 18th cent.), centered in the Shire River valley. In the 18th cent. the kingdom conquered portions of modern Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, shortly thereafter it declined as a result of internal rivalries and incursions by the Yao, who sold their Malawi captives as slaves to Arab and Swahili merchants living on the Indian Ocean coast. In the 1840s the region was thrown into further turmoil by the arrival from S Africa of the warlike Ngoni.

In 1859, David Livingstone, the Scots explorer, visited Lake Nyasa and drew European attention to the effects of the slave trade there; in 1873 two Presbyterian missionary societies established bases in the region. Missionary activity, the threat of Portuguese annexation, and the influence of Cecil Rhodes led Great Britain to send a consul to the area in 1883 and to proclaim the Shire Highlands Protectorate in 1889. In 1891 the British Central African Protectorate (known from 1907 until 1964 as Nyasaland), which included most of present-day Malawi, was established. During the 1890s, British forces ended the slave trade in the protectorate. At the same time, Europeans established coffee-growing estates in the Shire region, worked by Africans. In 1915 a small-scale revolt against British rule was easily suppressed, but it was an inspiration to other Africans intent on ending foreign domination.

In 1944 the protectorate's first political movement, the moderate Nyasaland African Congress, was formed, and in 1949 the government admitted the first Africans to the legislative council. In 1953 the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (linking Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, and Southern Rhodesia) was formed, over the strong opposition of Nyasaland's African population, who feared that the more aggressively white-oriented policies of Southern Rhodesia (see Zimbabwe) would eventually be applied to them.

The Banda Regime and Modern Malawi

In the mid-1950s the congress, headed by H. B. M. Chipembere and Kanyama Chiume, became more radical. In 1958, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda became the leader of the movement, which was renamed the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in 1959. Banda organized protests against British rule that led to the declaration of a state of emergency in 1959–60. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was ended in 1963, and on July 6, 1964, Nyasaland became independent as Malawi.

Banda led the country in the era of independence, first as prime minister and, after Malawi became a republic in 1966, as president; he was made president for life in 1971. He quickly alienated other leaders by governing autocratically, by allowing Europeans to retain considerable influence within the country, and by refusing to oppose white-minority rule in South Africa. Banda crushed a revolt led by Chipembere in 1965 and one led by Yatuta Chisiza in 1967.

Arguing that the country's economic well-being depended on friendly relations with the white-run government in South Africa, Banda established diplomatic ties between Malawi and South Africa in 1967. In 1970, Prime Minister B. J. Vorster of South Africa visited Malawi, and in 1971 Banda became the first head of an independent black African nation to visit South Africa. This relationship drew heavy public criticism. Nonetheless, Malawi enjoyed considerable economic prosperity in the 1970s, attributable in large part to foreign investment.

Throughout the decade, Malawi became a refuge for antigovernment rebels from neighboring Mozambique, causing tension between the two nations, as did the influx (in the late 1980s) of more than 600,000 civil war refugees, prompting Mozambique to close its border. The border closure forced Malawi to use South African ports at great expense. In the face of intense speculation over Banda's successor, he began to eliminate powerful officials through expulsions and possibly assassinations.

In 1992, Malawi suffered the worst drought of the century. That same year there were violent protests against Banda's rule, and Western nations suspended aid to the country. In a 1993 referendum Malawians voted for an end to one-party rule, and parliament passed legislation establishing a multiparty democracy and abolishing the life presidency. In a free election in 1994, Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi, his former political protégé, who called for a policy of national reconciliation. Muluzi formed a coalition cabinet, with members from his own United Democratic Front (UDF) and the rival Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). Disillusioned with the coalition, AFORD pulled out of the government in 1996. When Muluzi was reelected in 1999, AFORD joined the MCP in an unsuccessful court challenge of his election.

In 2002, Muluzi began a campaign to have the constitution changed so he could run for a third term, but the move sparked political and popular opposition and was abandoned the next year. In late 2003, AFORD again formed an alliance with the UDF. Aided by a split in the opposition, the UDF candidate, Bingu wa Mutharika, won the 2004 presidential election. The UDF, however, failed to win even a plurality in parliament, but Mutharika formed a majority coalition with independents and the small National Democratic Alliance.

Mutharika launched an anticorruption campaign that alienated many in the UDF, including former president Muluzi, and in 2005 Mutharika left the UDF and established the Democratic Progressive party (DPP). Mutharika subsequently faced abortive attempts by the UDF to impeach him. A crop failure in 2005 resulted in a drastic food shortage in the country and high food prices, and led to new policies designed to increase agricultural production.

In Feb., 2006, the president dismissed Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, a Muluzi ally, but Chilumpha appealed the dismissal to Malawi's high court, on the grounds that only parliament could remove him. In March, the court suspended the dismissal pending its decision. The next month, however, the vice president was arrested and charged with treason. In July, former president Muluzi was arrested on corruption charges, but the charges were dropped a month later. A high court panel ruled in Dec., 2006, that the president did not have the right to dismiss the vice president. Subsequently, President Mutharika, in his 2007 New Year's message, accused opposition parties and the judiciary of dividing the nation; he also accused the judiciary of bias against the government. Relations between the president and opposition parties were acrimonious into 2008; in May, 2008, the government charged several opposition figures with plotting a coup.

Mutharika was reelected by a landslide in the May, 2009, elections; the DPP won a majority in parliament as well. His main opponent, John Tembo of the Malawi Congress party, accused the DPP of rigging the election; international observers said the president had monopolized state media coverage of the campaign. Muluzi, who had sought to run but was barred, supported Tembo. In July, 2011, economic problems and the government's increasing intolerance for criticism and dissent led to demonstrations that were bloodily suppressed by the police; the use of violence renewed local unhappiness with Mutharika and led to international criticism and some suspension of aid.

Mutharika died in Apr., 2012, and was succeeded by his vice president, Joyce Banda. Banda had become critical of Mutharika and had been expelled from the DPP; Mutharika's attempts to remove her as vice president had been unsuccessful. (In Mar., 2013, a number of DPP officials including Peter Mutharika, the president's brother, were charged with treason for allegedly seeking to prevent Banda from succeeding to the presidency.) Banda instituted austerity policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund, which initially led to increased inflation in the country. The measures were designed in part to restore needed international aid.

In Sept., 2013, the shooting of the country's budget director led to the discovery of the Cashgate scandal, involving the theft of millions of dollars of government funds by more than 60 suspects; the budget director was believed to have been targeted because of his opposition to such looting. Banda reshuffled her cabinet as result, dismissing her finance minister. In the May, 2014, presidential election, Banda, hurt by the Cashgate scandal, placed third; Peter Mutharika won with 36% of the vote. Alleging vote fraud, Banda sought unsuccessfully to have the vote count suspended. No party won a majority in parliament. The DPP narrowly won the largest number of seats (50) but an even larger number of independents were elected. The treason charge and related charges against Mutharika were discontinued after his election. Mutharika was reelected in May, 2019, with 38% of the vote. Both his main opponents alleged that the vote was marred by irregularities and challenged the result in court, and in Feb., 2020, the constitutional court overturned the vote and called for a new election, but allowed Mutharika to remain in office. In June, Lazarus Chakwera, leader of the MCP and the candidate of the opposition Tonse Alliance, easily defeated Mutharika.

Flooding in Malawi in Jan., 2015, left some 230,000 people displaced and affected more than twice that number; roughly half the country was declared a disaster area. Severe flooding occurred again in Mar., 2019, with half the country's districts affected. Malawi suffers from a high AIDS infection rate, with roughly one seventh of the population affected.


See R. I. Rotberg, The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa (1966); J. G. Pike, Malawi (1968); B. Pachai, The Early History of Malawi (1972); M. Chanock, Law, Custom, and Social Order: The Colonial Experiences in Malawi and Zambia (1985); R. Sanders, Malawi (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Republic of Malawi), a state in East Africa and a member of the British Commonwealth. Area, 118,500 sq km. Population, 4.67 million (1972). The Capital is Zomba. Administratively, it is divided into three regions, the Northern, Central, and Southern, made up of districts.

Constitution and government. Malawi is a republic. The present constitution was adopted on July 6, 1966, with amendments introduced between 1970 and 1972. The head of state and government is the president, popularly elected for a five-year term; by a constitutional amendment in 1970, the first president was elected for life by the National Assembly. The president, who is commander in chief of the armed forces, appoints the cabinet, all high officials, and the judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal. He dissolves parliament and grants pardons.

The government—the cabinet—consists of the president and ministers appointed by him from among the members of the National Assembly. The highest legislative body, the parliament, is composed of the president and the unicameral National Assembly. The majority of the members of the National Assembly are directly elected by the people for five-year terms, and the rest are appointed by the president. All citizens who have attained the age of 21 may vote.

The regions are headed by ministers, and the districts, by district commissioners; all are appointed by the president. Elected local governing bodies are the district and city councils. Traditional governing bodies, the councils of chiefs, have been preserved in the rural areas.

The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court of Appeal, the High Court, which functions as a court of first and second instance for lower courts, magistrates’ courts, and traditional courts, whose jurisdiction has been broadened since 1969.


Natural features. Malawi lies in the southern part of the eastern rim of the African Platform, composed of Precambrian crystalline rocks fractured by young faults and uplifted as horst massifs in the west (the Nyika Plateau, rising to 2,670 m) and southeast (the Shire Plateau and the isolated Mlanje Massif, rising to 3,000 m). Between these massifs lies the southern tip of the graben of Lake Nyasa (Malawi). In the section that is not submerged, the bottom of the graben lies at elevations ranging from 200 to 450 m. There are deposits of coal, iron ore, bauxite, and monazite sand.

The climate is equatorial monsoonal, with a summer rainy season lasting from November or December to March or April and a winter dry season. The average temperature of the warmest month (November) ranges from 20°-23°C at the higher elevations to 27°C in the lowlands, and the mean temperature of the coldest month (July) is 14°-16°C and 19°C, respectively. The annual precipitation is 750-1,000 mm in the lowlands, 1,000-1,500 mm on the plateaus, and 2,000-2,500 mm in the highest regions. The major drainage system is that of Lake Nyasa and the navigable Shire River, a tributary of the Zambezi, which flows out of it through Lake Malombe. Maximum discharge occurs in the summer. In the southeast is the large drainless saline Lake Chilwa.

Tropical seasonally humid forests grow on mountain red soils in the northern part of the country, and xerophytic tropical forests, acacia savanna with baobab, and park savanna with palms growing on cinammon-red lateritic soils predominate elsewhere. Fringing forests grow in river valleys, and mountain steppes occur above 1,500 m.

The fauna is typical of savanna and includes elephants, buffalo, rhinoceroses, various antelopes, zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals, and hyenas. In the swampy thickets of Lake Chilwa abound many large animals. Lake Nyasa is rich in fish, chiefly tilapia. The tsetse fly is prevalent. The National Park of Malawi has been established to protect wildlife, primarily elephants, buffalo, rhinoceroses, and various species of antelope.

Population. The population of Malawi for the most part consists of closely related peoples belonging to the eastern Bantu group. The Malawi cluster, comprising the Nyanja, Chewa, Tumbuka, and other tribes, constitute 55 percent of the total population (1970, estimate) and inhabit the central regions. In the south live the Makua and Lomwe (800,000), Yao (600,000), Swahili, and Ngoni. There are more than 20,000 non-Africans of Asian or European origin. More than half the population adheres to local traditional beliefs, and the rest are Christians or Muslims. The official languages are Cinyanja, the language of the Malawi, and English. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

From 2.05 million in 1945, the population grew to 4.04 million in 1966 and 4.67 million in 1972. The average annual population increase was about 2.25 percent between 1966 and 1972. Average density is more than 39 persons per sq km. The greatest density occurs in the Southern Region (64 persons per sq km, 1966 data), where about half the country’s population lives. The lowest density is found in the Northern Region (18 persons per sq km). About nine-tenths of the gainfully employed population is engaged in agriculture. Many Malawians migrate in search of employment; between 150,000 and 200,000 are exploited in the mines and on the farms of Southern Rhodesia and the Republic of South Africa.

The major cities are Blantyre-Limbe, with 120,000 inhabitants in 1971, Zomba, and Lilongwe.

Historical survey. From earliest times the area of modern Malawi has been settled by tribes of the Bantu language group. A Malawi tribal confederation headed by a chief called Karonga formed around Lake Nyasa in the late 15th century, but it fell apart after his death. The Ngoni migrated into the area from the south in the second quarter of the 19th century, and later the Yao arrived from the southeast (Mozambique). The discoveries of the British explorer D. Livingstone between 1859 and 1863 marked the beginning of European penetration. The political and economic interests of Great Britain, Germany, and Portugal clashed in the struggle for territory around Lake Nyasa. Great Britain emerged victorious, and the British protectorate of Nyasaland was proclaimed in 1891. After suppressing African resistance in the late 19th century, the colonialists began to expropriate the best land for plantations. The seizure of land, exploitation of the local inhabitants, and excessive taxation caused an uprising in the Southern Region in January 1915, led by a preacher, John Chilembwe. The insurgents gained some initial victories, but the rebellion was suppressed in early February for lack of support in neighboring regions. Most of the rebels, including Chilembwe, were brutally executed by the colonialists.

With the introduction of money relations in the African village, a prosperous elite emerged—the owners of small cotton and tobacco plantations in the south and of large herds of cattle in the north. A commercial petite bourgeoisie also formed. The number of seasonal workers grew, and the country became a source of labor for neighboring British territories. The national liberation movement, which was active throughout the entire colonial period, gathered force during World War II, and intensified in the postwar period. The first political organization to aim at broadening the social rights of the indigenous population, the African National Congress (ANC), was founded in Nyasaland in 1944.

During the early 1950’s, the ANC led the movement opposing imperialist plans for merging Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia. One of the aims of the federation was the suppression, by the forces of the white settlers of Southern Rhodesia, of the national liberation movement in the Central African countries under British colonial domination. After the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953, the ANC led the struggle for the dissolution of the federation and the independence of Nyasaland. Opposition to the federation intensified in 1959. The colonial authorities sent troops against the Africans’ peaceful demonstrations. In the cities there were clashes between Africans armed with stones, sticks, and spears and colonial troops using modern weapons, aircraft, and armored cars “to frighten the unruly.” In 1959 the ANC was outlawed and its leaders arrested and sent to concentration camps in Southern Rhodesia. The state of emergency that was declared was not lifted until the end of 1960. Repression did not quell the liberation struggle, and the Malawi Congress Party was established in 1959 to replace the ANC.

In July 1961 the colonialists were forced by the liberation movement to introduce a constitution granting suffrage to the African inhabitants of Nyasaland. In the election of August 1961 the Malawi Congress Party won the majority of the seats in the Legislative Council, and on Feb. 1, 1963, Nyasaland was granted internal self-government. Negotiations on withdrawal from the federation were begun, and in July 1963, at a conference of representatives of Great Britain, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, and Southern Rhodesia held at Victoria Falls, it was decided to disband the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation was dissolved in December 1963, and on July 6, 1964, Nyasaland became the independent state of Malawi. The Republic of Malawi was proclaimed in July 1966. Malawi has been a member of the UN since 1964.

Headed by H. Banda, the leader of the Malawi Congress Party, the government of the republic took steps to redistribute land for the benefit of the native inhabitants. It repurchased part of the land belonging to private individuals of European descent. Malawi’s economic dependence on Great Britain and other imperialist countries largely determined the foreign policy of Banda’s government. Contrary to the decisions of the Organization of African Unity and to Malawi’s officially proclaimed course of neutrality and nonalignment with military blocs, the government of Malawi maintains diplomatic relations (since 1967) and trade relations with the Republic of South Africa and political and economic relations with Southern Rhodesia. Banda’s personal power has increased; he was proclaimed chairman for life of the Malawi Congress Party in 1965 and life president of Malawi in 1971.


Political parties and trade unions. The Malawi Congress Party, founded in 1959, is the sole and ruling party. The Congress of Trade Unions of Malawi, established in 1964, is the main trade union association.

Economic geography. Malawi is an economically backward agrarian country, dependent chiefly on the former mother country and the Republic of South Africa. In terms of its per capita gross national product—$84 in 1971—Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economic policies of the ruling circles are aimed at attracting foreign capital and developing the private sector. There is a growing influx of capital from the Republic of South Africa.

The economy is based on agriculture. The plantations owned by European companies and colonists specialize in export crops, chiefly tea, of which 18,600 tons were harvested in 1971, and high-grade tobacco (22,300 tons). The small African farms produce, in addition to export crops, such staples as corn (1.1 million tons in 1971), millet, sorghum, rice (9,000 tons), legumes, cassava, and potatoes. Also cultivated for export are peanuts (180,000 tons in 1971), cotton (9,000 tons of cotton fiber), tung trees (5,000 tons of nuts in 1970), and rubber. The largest tea, tung-tree, and rubber plantations belong to British companies.

Livestock raising is poorly developed owing to the prevalence of the tsetse fly. In 1970-71 there were 426,000 head of cattle, 118,000 sheep, 636,000 goats, and 143,000 hogs. In 1971, 40,000 tons of fish were caught, mainly in Lakes Nyasa and Chilwa and the lower course of the Shire River.

Mining has not been developed, although small quantities of iron ore, bauxite, and cyanite are extracted. The output of electric power is 174 million kW-hrs in 1972; the largest hydroelectric power plant is on the Shire River.

Manufacturing is represented primarily by enterprises for the processing of agricultural products. The most important enterprises are a cement plant (Blantyre-Limbe, 73,000 tons in 1972), a tobacco factory (Blantyre-Limbe), and a sugar refinery (33,000 tons). There are also factories for the processing of tea leaves, cotton gins, textile and garment factories, food and condiments enterprises (canning, tung oil), and a fertilizer industry. Of the forestry industries, the logging of building timber is the most important.

Motor vehicles and carts are the chief means of transportation. In 1970 there were 10,700 km of motor roads, of which 3,500 km were paved, and 465 km of railroads. The country’s only railroad connects Salima and Blantyre-Limbe with Beira in Mozambique; a branch line extends to Nacala. Foreign trade is conducted through the port of Beira in Mozambique. There is an international airport near Blantyre-Limbe.

The principal exports are tobacco, tea, peanuts, wool, tung oil, and cotton, and the main imports are foodstuffs, textile goods, ferrous and nonferrous metals, metal articles, and petroleum products.

Malawi’s principal trading partners are Great Britain, accounting for 40.3 percent of export earnings and 21 percent of import revenues in 1971, Southern Rhodesia (7 percent and 15 percent), the Republic of South Africa (5 percent and 15.5 per-cent), the USA (5 percent and 4 percent), Japan (5 percent of imports), and West Germany (4 percent of imports). The monetary unit is the kwacha, with 2 kwachas equaling £1 sterling.

Armed forces. Malawi’s armed forces consist of an infantry battalion of about 1,200 men (1972). The supreme commander in chief is the president. The army is maintained by voluntary enlistment. The police force of about 3,000 men reinforces the regular troops, and there are paramilitary youth detachments of about 1,500 men.

Health and social welfare. Between 1965 and 1970 the birth rate averaged 49 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate, 15 per 1,000 inhabitants; infant mortality was 148.3 per 1,000 live births. Infectious and parasitic diseases predominate. Tuberculosis, typhoid and paratyphoid, dysentery, venereal diseases, leprosy, and geohelminthiases are prevalent. Schistosomiases, malaria, and ancylostomiasis afflict about 85 percent of the population. Diseases of the digestive system and deficiency diseases are common. In the Northern Region wucheriasis is widespread, and enzootic breeding grounds of yellow fever are encountered. In the Central Region recurrent mite-borne typhus and catarrhal diseases are prevalent. In the Southern Region leprosy and tuberculosis occur, and the incidence of schistosomiasis is high; onchocerciasis has been recorded on the Shire Plateau.

In 1965 there were 52 hospitals with 4,900 beds (1.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), 35 maternity clinics, three mobile centers for combating leprosy, and six leper colonies. In 1969 there were 114 doctors in Malawi, or one for every 39,000 persons, ten dentists, 17 pharmacists, and about 1,000 medical assistants. A program of smallpox vaccination was introduced in 1965.

VETERINARY SERVICES. In 1974 there was one outbreak of African hog plague, 38 outbreaks of Newcastle disease, 100 outbreaks of rabies, 156 outbreaks of tuberculosis, and 23 outbreaks of blackleg. The tsetse fly spreads trypanosomiasis, theileriasis, and anaplasmosis, and helminthiases, particularly cysticercosis and fascioliasis, occur. There are small outbreaks of malignant anthrax. The shortage of zinc, copper, and selenium in the soil causes metabolic disturbances. Veterinary services are not well organized, and health measures are carried out on a local basis. There were 18 veterinarians in 1974.

Education and scientific institutions. More than 85 percent of the population is illiterate, and there is no law providing for compulsory education. The public school system comprises eight-year elementary schools and six-year secondary schools consisting of a four- and two-year level. In 1968, 333,900 pupils were enrolled in elementary schools, and 9,300 students attended secondary schools. Graduates of elementary schools are eligible for vocational training programs lasting one to four years; in 1968, 550 students were enrolled in vocational programs. Elementary school teachers receive a two-year course of training upon completion of the first level of the secondary school; more than 1,000 students were enrolled in 1968.

The sole higher educational institution, the University of Malawi in Blantyre-Limbe, was founded in 1964 and had an enrollment of more than 1,000 students in 1972. Affiliated institutions include the college of agriculture in Lilongwe, the teachers college and Chancellor College in Blantyre-Limbe, and the polytechnic and public administration institutes in BlantyreLimbe, none of which provide a complete higher education. In 1968 more than 500 persons received their higher education abroad. The largest library is that of Chancellor College, containing more than 70,000 volumes. The Museum of Malawi, founded in 1964, is located in Blantyre-Limbe.

Colonial domination hindered the establishment of scientific institutions. The Geological Survey of Malawi, founded in 1921, does topographical work and, with the aid of foreign companies, mineral prospecting. Since the late 1940’s experimental agricultural stations have been established to conduct research into the efficient production of corn, coffee, tobacco, and peanuts and to study problems of veterinary medicine, fishing, and irrigation.

Press and radio. The leading periodical publications are The African (founded in 1950, circulation 14,000), a biweekly published in English, Cinyanja, and Tumbuka; This Is Malawi(founded in 1964, circulation 15,000), a government monthly; the Malawi Government Gazette (founded in 1894), a government weekly; the Malawi News (founded in 1959, circulation 18,000), a weekly published in English, Cinyanja, and Tumbuka that serves as the organ of the Malawi Congress Party; and the Daily Times (founded in 1895, circulation 8,400), a daily newspaper published in English and Cinyanja. The government-owned Radio Malawi was founded in 1964.

Folk art. The main type of settlement among the Nyanja and Chewa is an irregularly laid out village surrounded by a fence. The Ngoni arrange their huts in a circle, with an enclosure for cattle in the center. The houses are either circular huts or rectangular dwellings with windows and wicker doors, encircled by a veranda. Huts are built with frames of woven twigs coated on the inside with clay, and they are covered with cane roofs. The chief artistic crafts are pottery and wood carving.


Iablochkov, L. D. “Korennoe naselenie Britanskoi Tsentral’noi Afriki.” In Afrikanskii etnograficheskii sbornik [vol.] 2. Moscow, 1958. Chapter 3.
Demkina, L. A. Krakh federatsii Rodezii i N’iasalenda. Moscow, 1965.
Pike, J. G. Malawi: A Political and Economic History. New York [1968].
Ransford, O. Livingstone’s Lake: The Drama of Nyasa. [London, 1966.]
Tew, M. Peoples of the Lake Nyasa Region. London-New York-Toronto, 1950.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Malawi

Capital city: Lilongwe

Internet country code: .mw

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun cen­tered in the black band

Geographical description: Southern Africa, east of Zambia

Total area: 45,747 sq. mi. (118,484 sq. km.)

Climate: Sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)

Nationality: noun: Malawian(s); adjective: Malawian
Population: 13,603,181 (July 2007 CIA est.)
Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European

Languages spoken: English (official), Chichewa (official), regional dialects, i.e., Chitumbuka, Chiyao,  Chilomwe

Religions: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 3%, other 2%.

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Freedom DayJun 14
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
John Chilembwe DayJan 15
Kamuzu DayMay 14
Labour DayMay 1
Martyrs' DayMar 3
Mothers' DayOct 10, 2011; Oct 8, 2012; Oct 14, 2013; Oct 13, 2014; Oct 12, 2015; Oct 10, 2016; Oct 9, 2017; Oct 8, 2018; Oct 14, 2019; Oct 12, 2020; Oct 11, 2021; Oct 10, 2022; Oct 9, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Republic DayJul 6
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a republic in E central Africa: established as a British protectorate in 1891; became independent in 1964 and a republic, within the Commonwealth, in 1966; lies along the Great Rift Valley, with Lake Nyasa (Malawi) along the E border, the Nyika Plateau in the northwest, and the Shire (or Shir?) Highlands in the southeast. Official language: Chichewa; English and various other Bantu languages are also widely spoken. Religion: Christian majority, Muslim, and animist minorities. Currency: kwacha. Capital: Lilongwe. Pop.: 12 337 000 (2004 est.). Area: 118 484 sq. km (45 747 sq. miles)
2. Lake. the Malawi name for (Lake) Nyasa
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
And, they argue, if their approach works in Malawi, it can work elsewhere in the region.
In August, a team of experts will come to Malawi to work with the Malawi Millennium Development Trust (MMD) to engage with key stakeholders in focus groups to better understand the constraints to growth.
The training was addressed by The First Lady of Malawi, H.E.
Patricio said:"Scotland has a very special place in the minds of the people of Malawi and kind gestures like this are really appreciated, so thank you everyone at Kippen PS".
The Egyptian ambassador, Malawian Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi, as well as a number of top officials from Malawi's presidency and foreign ministry received the aid.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) communications officer, Tumo Mpatane said coach Letang Kgengwenyane had a 'pep talk' with the players before departing for Malawi.
'I was picked amongst the first batch of 22 players and later was selected for the final Malawi squad for the ICC World T20 cup qualifiers as well as the Africa Cup qualifiers.
"In the lead up to their visit, and as part of Maths week, we tasked children with walk to Malawi. Each day every pupil in the school has walked a mile with their teacher and we tally it up to explain to them how many miles it will take them to get there.
It gives me immense pleasure, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Liberia and in my own name, to extend best wishes to you and through you to the Government and people of the Republic of Malawi,' President Weah stated.
Malawi's accession also supports AFC's membership expansion strategy into Southern Africa, and continued alignment of its country membership with its investment footprint.
"Access to quality palliative care in Malawi is a major problem due to a lack of resources, including specialised practitioners and pain medication."

Full browser ?