The Malawi Portal

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Malawi (/məˈlɑːwi/; lit.'flames' in Chichewa and Tumbuka), officially the Republic of Malawi and formerly known as Nyasaland, is a landlocked country in Southeastern Africa. It is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the east, south and southwest. Malawi spans over 118,484 km2 (45,747 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 19,431,566 (as of January 2021). Malawi's capital and largest city is Lilongwe. Its second-largest is Blantyre, its third-largest is Mzuzu and its fourth-largest is its former capital, Zomba. It was the first capital city of Malawi before being changed to Lilongwe.

The part of Africa now known as Malawi was settled around the 10th century by migrating Bantu groups. Centuries later, in 1891, the area was colonised by the British as the British Central African Protectorate, and it was renamed as Nyasaland in 1907. In 1953, it became a protectorate within the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Federation was dissolved in 1963. In 1964, the protectorate was ended: Nyasaland became an independent country as a Commonwealth realm under Prime Minister Hastings Banda, and was renamed Malawi. Two years later, Banda became president by converting the country into a one-party presidential republic. Declared President for life in 1971, Malawi's next few decades of independence were characterized by Banda's highly repressive dictatorship. Following the introduction of a multiparty system in 1993, Banda was defeated in the 1994 general election. Today, Malawi has a democratic, multi-party republic headed by an elected president and has continued to experience peaceful transitions of power. According to the 2024 V-Dem Democracy indices Malawi is ranked 74th electoral democracy worldwide and 11th electoral democracy in Africa. The country's military, the Malawian Defence Force, includes an army, a navy, and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western. It maintains positive diplomatic relations with most countries, and participates in several international organisations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Union (AU).

Malawi is one of the world's least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based on agriculture, and it has a largely rural and rapidly growing population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet its development needs, although the amount needed (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in its efforts to build and expand the economy, to improve education, healthcare, and environmental protection, and to become financially independent despite widespread unemployment. Since 2005, Malawi has developed several policies that focus on addressing these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving: key indicators of progress in the economy, education, and healthcare were seen in 2007 and 2008.

Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality. HIV/AIDS is highly prevalent, which both reduces the labour force and requires increased government expenditures. The country has a diverse population that includes native peoples, Asians, and Europeans. Several languages are spoken, and there is an array of religious beliefs. Although in the past there was a periodic regional conflict fuelled in part by ethnic divisions, by 2008 this internal conflict had considerably diminished, and the idea of identifying with one's Malawian nationality had reemerged. (Full article...)

The Nyasaland emergency of 1959 was a state of emergency in the protectorate of Nyasaland (now Malawi), which was declared by its governor, Sir Robert Armitage, on 3 March 1959 and which ended on 16 June 1960. Under the emergency powers that operated during the Emergency, over 1,300 members or supporters of the Nyasaland African Congress (Congress) were detained without trial, and most of the party's leaders including its president, Dr. Hastings Banda, were imprisoned in Southern Rhodesia after being arrested on 3 March. Many other Africans were jailed for offences related to the Emergency, including rioting and criminal damage. In the week before the Emergency was declared and during its first month, over 50 Africans were killed and many more wounded by the colonial security forces, which included many European troops from Southern Rhodesia. Others were beaten by troops or armed police or had their huts destroyed and their property seized during punitive operations undertaken during the Emergency.

Nyasaland had a history of problems arising from the limited access that African peasant farmers had to agricultural land, and of opposition to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which Nyasaland had joined in 1953. Although opposition to Federation was at first limited to a relatively small group of educated Africans, the imposition of agricultural rules designed to reduce soil erosion, which took significant amounts of land out of cultivation and involved additional work by the smallholders affected, made it more widely unpopular. On his return to Nyasaland, Banda used dissatisfaction with these schemes to spread his message that Nyasaland should leave the Federation. (Full article...)
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1 December 2023 – Israel–Hamas war
Hundreds of Malawians travel to Israel to work as farm labourers. Kondwani Nankhumwa, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, has questioned the secrecy of the deal amidst the governments awareness of the ongoing war. (Al Jazeera)
15 November 2023 –
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera suspends all publicly funded international travel for government officials, including himself, until the end of March, as part of measures to address the country's economic challenges. (AFP via The Citizen)

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A fisherman Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest freshwater lake.

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