Region: Southern Africa
Population: 13,931,831 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 118,480 sq km
Currency: Malawian kwacha (MWK)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $800 (2007 est.)
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 elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa Mutharika, elected in May 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 (DPP) in 2005. As president, Mutharika has overseen substantial economic improvement but because of political deadlock in the legislature, his minority party has been unable to pass significant legislation, and anti-corruption measures have stalled. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.
Economy – Overview:
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 85% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In December 2007, the US granted Malawi eligibility status to receive financial support within the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) initiative. Malawi will now begin a consultative process to develop a five-year program before funding can begin. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. The government faces many challenges including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. In 2005, President Mutharika championed an anticorruption campaign. Since 2005 President Mutharika's government has exhibited improved financial discipline under the guidance of Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and signed a three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility worth $56 million with the IMF. Improved relations with the IMF lead other international donors to resume aid as well.
Major Export Commodities: tobacco 53%, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel
Remittances: Not available
Human Development Index 2007/2008 ranking: 164 out of 177
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA in 2006 was US $397.9 million. Major development partners include the IDA, the African Development Fund, and the United Kingdom.
Total External Debt: US $894 million (31 December 2007 est.)
United Nations membership date: 1 December 1964
New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 486
New York, N.Y. 10017
Telephone: 212-317-8738, 8718
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2007/2008.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated June 2008