Malawi - General Information

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and suffers from all the problems of an African developing country. It is small and landlocked, with few natural resources that can be exploited. It was given debt relief in 2006 which will provide some additional funds for education, health and other services.

85% of the people are subsistence farmers, living in rural villages without modern facilities, such as electricity. There was an acute food shortage in 2005 because of drought. Since then the government�s subsidised fertiliser and seed program has enabled surplus harvests but with some local problems. However, continued reliance on maize and imported fertiliser, together with the effects of climate change are expected to bring problems.

About 65% of the population are estimated to live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. Nearly half of the population are children and many have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Malawi is a stable, functioning multi-party democracy with strong civil society institutions, a free press and a tradition of peace. The heritage of regional and tribal differences has never erupted into strife. Despite its economic and health problems, Malawi is known as the "Warm Heart of Africa". The people are resilient and resourceful and deserve the reputation for their legendary warmth and goodwill. Working with them can be inspirational.

Languages : English - official language, Chichewa - most widespread local language, others important regionally

Religions : Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Islam 20%, other 5%

Literacy rate : 74% (2005-2010 surveys)