Useful country information
Total area: 45,747 sq mi (118,484 sq km)
Population (2013 est.): 16,777,547 (growth rate: 2.758%); birth rate: 40.42/1000; infant mortality rate: 79.2/1000; life expectancy: 52.31
Capital (2009 est.): Lilongwe, 821,000
Largest city: Blantyre, 856,000
Monetary unit: Kwacha
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)
Ethnicity/race: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European
Religions: Christian 82.7%, Islam 13%, other 1.9%, none 2.5% (1998)
National Holiday: Independence Day (Republic Day), July 6
Literacy rate: 74.8% (2003 est.)
Malawi is a landlocked country about the size of Pennsylvania. Located in southeast Africa, it is surrounded by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Malawi's predominantly rural population is comprised of various tribes that migrated from other parts of Africa. According to its gross national income (GNI) the Republic of Malawi is the poorest country in Africa, its economy is agro-based. There is a small tourism sector which is being primed for growth.
The former British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. First democratic multi-party elections were held in 1994, after three decades of one-party rule. A provisional constitution, took full effect in 1995.
Malawi faced its worst food shortage in over a decade in 2005, with more than 4 million people, 34% of the population, without adequate food supplies.
President Mutharika won reelection in a landslide in May 2009 elections, taking 66% of the vote. John Tembo came in a distant second with 30.7%. Mutharika died unexpectedly of a heart attack in April 2012. Vice president Joyce Banda assumed the role of president. Once an ally of Mutharika, the two parted ways in a row over succession?Mutharika had reportedly been grooming his brother Peter to become the next president. She was ousted from the governing Democratic Progressive Party and formed her own, the People's Party. The economy improved under Banda, with the GDP growing from 2% in 2012 to 5% in 2013 and the resumption of international aid.
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