(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 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 (DPP) in 2005. As president, MUTHARIKA has overseen substantial economic improvement but because of political deadlock in the legislature, his minority party has been unable to pass significant
legislation and anti-corruption measures have stalled. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.
|History||The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers.
They were largely replaced by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. What is now called Malawi was the Maravi state, founded by the Chewa people in the 16th century. The Chewa were themselves an off-shoot of the Luba Empire. In the early to mid 19th century, they were joined by Zulu-related Ndwandwe people from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, the Ngoni, under their king Zwangendaba.
The first significant Western contact was the arrival of David Livingstone along the north shore of Lake Malawi in 1859, and subsequently Scottish Presbyterian churches establishing missions. In 1883, a consul of the British Government was accredited to the “Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa,” and in 1891, the British established the British Central Africa Protectorate, by 1907, the Nyasaland Protectorate. Although the British remained in control during the first half of the 20th century, this period was marked by a number of unsuccessful Malawian attempts to obtain independence. During the 1950s, pressure for independence increased when Nyasaland was joined with Northern and Southern Rhodesia in 1953 to form the Central African Federation. In July 1958, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda returned to the country after a long absence. He assumed leadership of the NAC, which later became the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). In 1959, Banda was sent to Gwelo Prison in Southern Rhodesia (now Gweru) for his political activities but was released in 1960 to participate in a constitutional conference in London.
On April 15, 1961 the MCP won an overwhelming victory in elections for a new Legislative Council. In a second constitutional conference in London in November 1962, the British Government agreed to give Nyasaland self-governing status the following year. This announcement sealed the fate of the Central African Federation, which lost its reason for existence with an independent Nyasaland. Banda became Prime Minister on February 1, 1963, although the British still controlled Malawi’s financial, security, and judicial systems. A new constitution took effect in May 1963, providing for virtually complete internal self-government. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved on December 31, 1963, and Malawi became a fully independent member of the British Commonwealth on July 6, 1964. Two years later, Malawi became a republic with Dr. Banda as its first President, and was also declared a one-party state. In 1970 Banda was declared President for life (Ngwazi) of the MCP, and in 1971 Banda consolidated his power and was named President for Life of Malawi itself.
However, increasing domestic unrest and pressure from Malawian churches and from the international community led to a referendum in which the Malawian people were asked to vote for a new form of government. On June 14, 1993, the people of Malawi voted overwhelmingly in favor of multi-party democracy. Free and fair national elections were held on May 17, 1994. Bakili Muluzi, leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF), was elected President in those elections. The UDF won 82 of the 177 seats in the National Assembly and formed a coalition government with the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). That coalition disbanded in June 1996, but some of its members remained in the government. Malawi’s newly written constitution (1995) eliminated special powers previously reserved for the Malawi Congress Party. Accelerated economic liberalization and structural reform accompanied the political transition.
Malawi saw its first transition between democratically elected presidents in May 2004, when the UDF’s presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika defeated MCP candidate John Tembo and Gwanda Chakuamba, who was backed by a grouping of opposition parties. Through the politicking of party chairperson and former President Bakili Muluzi, the party successfully secured a majority by forming a “government of national unity” with several opposition parties.
|Geography||Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia
Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 118,480 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries: total: 2,881 km
border countries: Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)
Terrain: narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m
Natural resources: limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite
Land use: arable land: 20.68%
permanent crops: 1.18%
other: 78.14% (2005)
Irrigated land: 560 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 17.3 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.01 cu km/yr (15%/5%/80%)
per capita: 78 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations
Environment – international agreements: 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: landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country’s most prominent physical feature
|Politics||For almost thirty one years, the government of Malawi and the Malawi Congress Party were one. When Malawi was declared a republic in 1966, the country was formally declared a one-party state. Under Banda, all citizens had to be members of the party. This situation changed in a 1993 referendum, which instituted a multiparty system. In the country’s first democratic elections, Banda and the MCP were soundly defeated.
Under the 1995 constitution, the president, who is both chief of state and head of the government, is chosen through universal direct election every five years. Malawi has a vice president who is elected with the president who is currently Bingu wa Mutharika. The president has the option of appointing a second vice president, who must be from a different political party. The members of the presidentially appointed cabinet can be drawn from either within or outside of the legislature. Malawi’s National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected to serve 5-year terms. The constitution also provides for a second chamber, a Senate of 80 seats, but to date no action has been taken to create the Senate. The Senate is intended to provide representation for traditional leaders and the different geographical districts, as well as various special interest groups, such as women, youth, and the disabled .
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Malawi’s judicial system, based on the English model, is made up of magisterial lower courts, a High Court, and a Supreme Court of Appeal. Local government is carried out in 27 districts within three regions administered by regional administrators and district commissioners who are appointed by the central government. Local elections, the first in the multi-party era, took place in on November 21, 2000. The UDF party won 70% of the seats in this election.
The third multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections, originally planned for May 18, 2004 were postponed by two days following a High Court appeal by the main opposition Mgwirizano (Unity) coalition. The run-up to the poll was overshadowed by opposition claims of irregularities in the voters’ roll. European Union and Commonwealth observers said although voting passed peacefully, they were concerned about “serious inadequacies” in the poll.
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 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 46% (male 3,208,112/female 3,194,600)
15-64 years: 51.4% (male 3,592,073/female 3,563,840)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 159,450/female 213,756) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 16.8 years
male: 16.7 years
female: 16.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.39% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 41.79 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 17.89 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 90.55 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 94.69 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 86.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 43.45 years
male: 43.74 years
female: 43.15 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.67 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 14.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 900,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 84,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Malawian(s)
Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Religions: Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3% (1998 census)
Languages: Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.7%
female: 49.8% (2003 est.)