Picture of dried Maize cobs.

About Malawi

main content

Facts & Figures

Population : c 16,000,000

Life Expectancy : 52 years on average (compared with 80 in the UK). The infant mortality rate in Malawi is 79 per thousand, compared with 3.7 in Scotland.

Health : About 11% of the population of Malawi are HIV positive – approximately 920,000. There are at least 650,000 AIDS orphans, many of whom are themselves HIV positive. There are approximately nineteen physicians per million population.

Education : Malawi is committed to free primary education for all. Implementing this policy has proved very difficult because of shortage of resources.

Economy : Malawi has among the lowest per capita income in Africa. Poverty is chronic and widespread. 53% of the population live in poverty. Unemployment is estimated to be around 93%. For the past few years, Malawi has stuck to a policy of painful economic reforms under the high-indebted poor country initiative. This was rewarded in September 2006 when the International Monetary Fund and World Bank announced that 90 per cent of Malawi's $2.9 billion official foreign debt had been written off - a recognition that the country has achieved significant improvements in its economic performance. This debt relief will allow the Malawi Government to direct additional funds towards improving basic service provision in the areas of health, education, social protection and water development.

Politics : Malawi is a presidential representative democratic republic. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by the people through multi-party elections every five years. An individual can serve as President for a maximum of two terms if re-elected. The vice president is elected through the same voting process.

Bingu wa Mutharika, the candidate of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), was sworn in on 24 May 2004 after winning the presidential elections. Less than a year later he resigned from the UDF, accusing the party and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi of opposing his high-profile anti-corruption campaign. He formed a new grouping, the Democratic Progressive Party, and continued with his strong anti-corruption stance. He was re-elected in May 2009 with a substantial majority. During his second term he became unpopular and alienated donors who withdrew support. In 2011 he declared the British High Commissioner “persona non grata” and in reprisal their Ambassador was expelled. As donors withdrew support Malawi faced financial difficulties including a severe shortage of fuel. Bingu wa Mutharika died unexpectedly in April 2012 of a cardiac arrest and was replaced by Hon. Joyce Banda, his alienated Vice President. There was a trouble free transition of power to Hon. Banda who has placated the donors, massively devalues the Kwacha and as a result donor aid has begun to flow back into Malawi.

Source of statistics: CIA World factbook.

Related information


The government of Malawi is planning tripartite elections for May 20th 2014. The electoral body will simultaneously conduct Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections.