“The Warm Heart of Africa”
The Republic of Malawi
Malawi is located in Southeast Africa, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. It’s over 45,560 sq mi (118,000 km2) with more than 14 million people. The capital city is Lilongwe. The official languages are English and Chichewa.
The population is made up of over nine different ethnic groups – the largest group, the Chewa, makes up 32%. The country follows a multi-party democratic government with a president and vice president. It is a predominantly Christian nation, however there is a sizeable group of Muslims as well as smaller groups of Jews, Rastafarians, Hindus, Baha’is and local tribal religious groups.
Malawi went through a series of colonizations in its history. The country was formed by migrating Bantu tribes from the north during the 10th century and remained under various forms of tribal rule until the late 1900s. Like much of Africa, Malawi (or Nyasaland as it was known at the time) was colonized by the British and an official colonial government was formed in 1891. In 1953, Nyasaland became semi-independent as part of the Central African Federation (CAF) and gained full independence in 1964 when it was renamed Malawi.
Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries, relies heavily on outside aid from other countries and organizations. The country is challenged by high infant mortality, low life expectancy and a high prevalance of HIV/AIDS. It has a predominantly agricultural economy with a rural society which makes economic expansion and offering quality healthcare and education quite difficult.
While Malawi receives a lot of international assistance, the country has been able to make improvements in economic growth, healthcare and education in recent years. Progress has been made decreasing child mortality and reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. The Malawian Constitution now entitles citizens to at least five years of primary education and free education is offered to all children. This has lead to an increase in youth literacy, enrollment and attendance rates, as well as improved learning materials, better infrastructure and feeding programs.