- Malawi is a landlocked country about the size of Pennsylvania.
- Malawi is often referred to as ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’ or ‘Africa for Beginners.’
- Few houses have water or electricity, only about 1 in 10 Malawians have access to electricity.
- 1 in 10 adults in Malawi has HIV/Aids.
- There are currently over 1,000,000 orphans in Malawi in the wake of HIV/Aids epidemic and many other diseases.
- In 2012, 45% of the 16,000,000 Malawians were under the age of 15.
- Life expectancy in Malawi is 56 years (men), 57 years (women).
- Lake Malawi is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Africa and by volume of water, it is the 8th largest lake in the world! Lake Malawi is 700 metres deep, considered by some as the 2nd deepest lake in the world. Formed as part of the Great Rift Valley, the lake is the most southern of the great lakes in the East African Rift.
- In a governmental primary school class there are 60-100 children per teacher for comparison there are 25 children per teacher in private primary schools.
- Fuel for your vehicle will cost you about $1.80-$1.90/litre.
- The average annual income is $815 or about $2.25 per day.
Food in Daily Life
Chickens, goats, and an occasional pig are used to supplement the standard dish of boiled cornmeal called nsima. Nsima eaten twice a day, usually at lunch and dinner, and is preferred by most people to rice or potatoes. Fruits are plentiful, including mangoes, melons, oranges, bananas, and pineapples. Vegetables are cultivated but are not popular.
Land Tenure and Property
Land is treated as part of the public domain. A person may settle on a piece of ground, build a home, and grow crops as long as he gets the approval of his neighbors. After a certain period, he is permitted to register the plot with the government and is given legal title.
The organizations that produce coffee, tea, and tobacco, such as the British-American Tobacco Company, are replacing their British managers with Malawians. The country produces no manufactured goods for export; thus, the economy depends heavily on agricultural staples.
During the years of apartheid, Malawi was the only country in Africa that had diplomatic relations with South Africa. Many South Africans visited the country, and a basic tourism infrastructure was developed.
Today there are tourists from many countries, but the country does not have an abundance of wildlife and there are no game parks. However, there is a potential for increased tourism because of the natural beauty and varied topography and because the country is unspoiled and inexpensive.
Malawi is the 147th largest export economy in the world and the 96th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). The major exports are tobacco, coffee, and tea. The country imports electrical appliances, small machinery, and automobiles, primarily Japanese. The balance of trade is favorable. The major trading partners are Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe, Japan, and South Africa.
Verbal greetings are accompanied by a handshake. This is done with the right hand, with the left hand gripping the right forearm to show that one is not armed. Stopping to talk on the street is customary, and the conversation continues even after the parties go their separate ways.
Although residents are gregarious, they respect other people’s privacy in a crowded country where private space is at a premium.
Any visitor almost always is offered a drink and perhaps something to eat. Eating usually is done without utensils, but only with the right hand, because the left hand is considered “dirty.”