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Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA, the country held multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor and subsequently started his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party in 2005. MUTHARIKA was reelected to a second term in 2009. He oversaw some economic improvement in his first term, but was accused of economic mismanagement and poor governance in his second term. He died abruptly in 2012 and was succeeded by vice president, Joyce BANDA, who had earlier started her own party, the People's Party. MUTHARIKA's brother, Peter MUTHARIKA, defeated BANDA in the 2014 election. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.


Southern Africa, east of Zambia, west and north of Mozambique

Natural Resources

limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

Population - distribution

population density is highest south of Lake Nyasa

English (official), Chichewa (common), Chinyanja, Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe, Chinkhonde, Chingoni, Chisena, Chitonga, Chinyakyusa, Chilambya
LILONGWE (capital) 905,000; Blantyre-Limbe 808,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Malawi
Conventional short form
Local long form
Dziko la Malawi
Local short form
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
13 58 S, 33 47 E
Time difference
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, limited connectivity to the region and the world, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports.
External debt stocks
US$ 1,735,055,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -714,899,486
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 2,461,549,905
Exports of goods and services
US$ 1,812,132,397
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 518,691,527
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 110,918,334
tobacco, sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, coffee; cattle, goats
tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
tobacco 55%, dried legumes (8.8%), sugar (6.7%), tea (5.7%), cotton (2%), peanuts, coffee, soy (2015 est.)
Belgium 16.1%, Zimbabwe 12.2%, India 6.7%, US 6.1%, South Africa 6.1%, Russia 5.7%, Germany 4.7% (2015)
food, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment
South Africa 26%, China 17.5%, India 12.6%, Zambia 7.6%, Tanzania 6.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Natural resources (uranium, rare earths, tobacco, oil and gas)
  • Rapidly growing service sector
  • Support of international donors
  • Member of SADC (Southern African Development Community) and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa)
  • Economy dominated by agriculture, vulnerability to climatic conditions
  • High inflation
  • Infrastructure shortcomings (water, energy)
  • Low currency reserves
  • Increased extreme poverty

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