Malawi is a landlocked nation in southeast Africa that was once known as Nyasaland. Its official name is the Republic of Malawi. It is bounded to the northwest by Zambia, to the northeast by Tanzania, and to the east, south, and west by Mozambique. Lake Malawi separates the nation from Tanzania and Mozambique. Malawi has an area of approximately 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) and a population of 16,777,547 people (July 2013 est.). Its capital, Lilongwe, is also Malawi’s largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu, and the fourth is Zomba, the country’s former capital. Malawi derives its name from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that live in the area. The country is also known as “Africa’s Warm Heart.”
Malawi is one of Africa’s smallest countries. Lake Malawi covers around one-third of Malawi’s land area.
Around the 10th century, migratory Bantu communities arrived in the area that is today known as Malawi. Centuries later, in 1891, the British colonized the region. Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland, a British protectorate, became a protectorate under the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953. In 1963, the Federation was disbanded. The protectorate of Nyasaland ended in 1964, and Nyasaland became an independent country under Queen Elizabeth II, renamed Malawi. It became a republic two years later. It became a one-party state after independence, led by Hastings Banda, who served as president until 1994, when he was defeated in an election. The current president is Arthur Peter Mutharika. Malawi has a multi-party democratic government. Malawi has a Malawian Defence Force, which includes an army, a navy, and an air wing. Malawi’s foreign policy is pro-Western, with positive diplomatic relations with the vast majority of countries and membership in a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern AfricaCOMESA, and the African Union AU.
Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries. The economy is strongly focused on agriculture, and the population is primarily rural. Malawi’s government is largely reliant on foreign help to satisfy development requirements, however this need (and the amount of aid provided) has declined since 2000. Malawi’s government is facing problems in developing and increasing the economy, boosting education, healthcare, environmental preservation, and achieving financial independence. Malawi has established many initiatives addressing these concerns since 2005, and the country’s outlook looks to be improving, with increases in the economy, education, and healthcare evident in 2007 and 2008.
Malawi has a low birth rate and a high infant death rate. The incidence of HIV/AIDS is significant, putting a strain on the labor force and government budgets. There is a varied population of local peoples, Asians, and Europeans, who speak a variety of languages and have a variety of religious views. Although there had been recurrent regional warfare in the past, fueled in part by ethnic divides, it had subsided significantly by 2008, and the notion of a Malawian nationality had re-emerged.