After independence from Great Britain in 1964, Malawi was reigned for three decades by the autocratic president for life Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda led with an iron hand. In 1994, the peaceful deselection of Banda marked the beginning of a democratization process.
In the absence of major mineral raw material reserves, Malawi is almost entirely focused on agricultural products. The main export goods include tobacco, tea and sugar. The economy is characterized by smallholder subsistence cultivation of the main food, maize.
According to aristmarketing, 84% of Malawians live in the countryside. The different ethnic groups live in peaceful coexistence and extensive religious tolerance. The upper class lifestyle in the few cities is western. In the rural regions, the traditional authorities play an important role.
Malawi is an insider tip for travelers who want to gain an insight into a traditional, peaceful and extremely hospitable country. In addition to Lake Malawi with various opportunities for sporting activities, there are mountains and national parks with elephants, lions, etc.
Population and urban development
Of the almost 17.6 million residents (2018), 44% live in the south, 43% in the central and 13% in the north. The urbanization is relatively low. 84% of the population (2018) of Malawi lives in the countryside, mostly in villages, of which there are a good 23,000. The urban population is essentially located in four cities: Lilongwe (central region), which was expanded into the capital in 1976, has 990,000 residents (2018 census), followed by the trading metropolis Blantyre (southern region; 800,000 residents (2018 census)), the metropolis of the northern region, Mzuzu (221,300 residents (2018 census) and the former capital and today’s university town of Zomba(105,000 residents (2018 census)). The urban development will be actively pursued by the government.
Lilongwe was built in the first half of the 1970’s by the authoritarian Banda regime next to the settlement of the same name as a test-tube town. The so-called Old Town and Capital City have now grown together. City districts were designated numerically as areas. After the President’s move from Blantyre to Lilongwe (2004), the city is booming. So far, however, it has not been able to dispute Blantyre’s status as a business and commercial metropolis.
The regional distribution of the population varies. The southern region is the most densely populated, followed by the central region, while the Northern Region traditionally only a thin colonization has.
The transport infrastructure in Malawi is relatively good. The country has a small but relatively good network of paved roads, both on the north-south axis and between the important tobacco, tea and sugar-growing areas and the cities. Road construction is given significant support from donors, including the African Development Bank. The national master plan provides information on the expansion plans for the period 2017-2037.
Great hope is placed in the expansion of the railway connection from Malawi to Nacala on the Mozambican coast. This could significantly shorten the transport routes and make them cheaper. The railway network Malawi covers 800 km and extends from Mchinji on the Zambian border over Salima to Mozambique. It is only used for freight transport.
The motor ship Chambo, designed for 80 passengers, has been connecting coastal towns in the eastern part of the lake with one another since the beginning of 2014. The significantly larger motor ship Ilala is also back in action. The long-serving ship, with a capacity of around 400 passengers and 100 tons of cargo, operates on the south-north axis from Monkey Bay in Mangochi to the far north. It also serves the islands of Chizumulu and Likoma. A new passenger ship, the Chilembwe, went into operation in early 2015. It is designed for 120 passengers. Depending on the timetable, it can also be used to reach the islands of Chizumulu and Likoma.
International airports offer Lilongwe and Blantyre. There is also a national airport in Mzuzu, which is being expanded, and a number of runways. Overall, the air traffic is clear. The detailed Aviation Master Plan provides an inventory.
The rising red sun on the national flag, which was used from 1964 to 2010 and again from June 1, 2012, symbolizes independence and the hope of prosperous development. The 31 rays are an indication that Malawi became the 31st African state to achieve independence. The color black stands for Africa, red for the blood shed for independence, and green for the fields and forests of Malawi.
The national coat of arms of Malawi was awarded to Malawi by the British Queen on June 30, 1967.
The flag introduced by President Bingu wa Mutharika in August 2010 without sufficient consultation with the population was abolished by parliamentary resolution after his successor Joyce Banda and the original flag was put back into service from 1.6.2012.
You can read and hear the national anthem here in Chichewa and English.