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You are in:  Nations > Africa > Malawi
Malawi*Malawi flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Lilongwe
Area: 118,484 sq km; 45,747 sq miles
Population: 10,154,299 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 15 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 85 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Tobacco, tea, sugar, coffee, peanuts, wood products

Industry: Agricultural processing (tea, tobacco, sugar), saw milling, cement, consumer goods

Agriculture: Cash crops: tobacco, sugar cane, cotton, tea, maize; subsistence crops: potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses; livestock: cattle, goats

Currency: 1 Malawian kwacha (MK), consisting of 100 tambala

Natural resources: Limestone, uranium, coal, bauxite


The people

Ethnic: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European

Language: English is Malawi's official language and is the primary language of instruction in the schools. Chichewa, a Bantu language, is the national language and a number of other Bantu languages are widely spoken.

Religion: Protestant 55 per cent, Roman Catholic 20 per cent, Muslim 20 per cent, Hindu, indigenous beliefs 5 per cent


The history

Independence: 6 July 1964 (from the United Kingdom). Change swept through the Government in May 1994 as a new constitution was approved, followed by Malawi's first multi-party elections. Bakili Muluzi, the leader of the UDF and a former federal cabinet member, won the presidency over Hastings Kamuzu Banda, leader of the country since Malawi's independence in 1964. Muluzi formed a UDF-dominated Government and, in keeping with the new constitution, which established a human rights commission, he freed political prisoners.

Government: Under the country's 1994 constitution, Malawi is a republic with an elected President, who is both the head of Government and the head of state. Cabinet ministers are responsible to the President, who is elected to a five-year term by the people. The parliament of Malawi is the unicameral National Assembly, made up of 177 members popularly elected to terms of up to five years, with additional members nominated by the President.

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