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Malawi

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.

President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected as president of Malawi 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 in 2005.

MUTHARIKA was reelected to a second term in May 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 April 2012 and was succeeded by his vice president, Joyce BANDA, who had earlier started her own party, the People’s Party of Malawi.

MUTHARIKA’s brother, Peter MUTHARIKA, defeated BANDA in May 2014 elections. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi.

Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world’s most densely populated and least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas.

The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, limited connectivity to the region and the world, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. Agriculture accounts for about 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 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program. The government faces many challenges including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, addressing environmental problems, dealing with HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors on anti-corruption efforts.

Between 2005 and 2009 Malawi’s government exhibited improved financial discipline under the guidance of Finance Minister Goodall GONDWE and signed a three year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility worth $56 million.

The government announced infrastructure projects that could yield improvements, such as a new oil pipeline for better fuel access, and the potential for a waterway link through Mozambican rivers to the ocean for better transportation options. Since 2009, however, Malawi has experienced some setbacks, including a general shortage of foreign exchange, which has damaged its ability to pay for imports, and fuel shortages that hinder transportation and productivity. In October 2013, the African Development Bank, the IMF, several European countries, and the US indefinitely froze $150 million in direct budgetary support in response to a high level corruption scandal called “Cashgate,” citing a lack of trust in the government’s financial management system and civil service. Most of the frozen donor funds—which accounted for 40% of the budget—have been channeled through non-governmental organizations in the country. Investment had fallen continuously for several years, but rose 4 percentage points in 2014 to 17% of GDP.

The government has failed to address barriers to investment such as unreliable power, water shortages, poor telecommunications infrastructure, and the high costs of services.

Malawi GDP (purchasing power parity):
$13.76 billion (2014 est.)
$13.01 billion (2013 est.)
$12.37 billion (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2014 US dollars
* country comparison to the world: 152

Malawi GDP (official exchange rate):
$4.408 billion (2014 est.)

Malawi GDP – real growth rate:
5.7% (2014 est.)
5.2% (2013 est.)
1.9% (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 63

Malawi GDP – per capita (PPP):
$800 (2014 est.)
$800 (2013 est.)
$700 (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
* country comparison to the world: 227

Malawi Gross national saving:
13.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
13.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
12.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 122

Malawi GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 95%
government consumption: 11%
investment in fixed capital: 16.5%
investment in inventories: 6.6%
exports of goods and services: 28.1%
imports of goods and services: -57.1%
(2014 est.)

Malawi GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 30.1%
industry: 18.5%
services: 51.3%
(2014 est.)

Malawi Agriculture – products:
tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sorghum, pulses, groundnuts, Macadamia nuts; cattle, goats

Malawi Industries:
tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods

Malawi Industrial production growth rate:
-1.7% (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 183

Malawi Labor force:
5.747 million (2007 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 70

Malawi Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 90%
industry and services: 10% (2003 est.)

Malawi Unemployment rate:
N/A

Malawi Population below poverty line:
53% (2004)

Malawi Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 31.9% (2004)

Malawi Distribution of family income – Gini index:
39 (2004)
* country comparison to the world: 68

Malawi Budget:
revenues: $1.264 billion
expenditures: $1.573 billion (2014 est.)

Malawi Taxes and other revenues:
28.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 97

Malawi Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-7% of GDP (2014 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 190

Malawi Public debt:
48% of GDP (2014 est.)
49.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 74

Malawi Fiscal year:
1 July – 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
22.8% (2014 est.)
27.3% (2013 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
15% (31 December 2009)
15% (31 December 2008)
* country comparison to the world: 9

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
44% (31 December 2014 est.)
46% (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 2

Stock of narrow money:
$578.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$454.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 162

Stock of broad money:
$1.481 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.176 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$969.2 million (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 153

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$753.6 million (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.384 billion (31 December 2011)
$1.363 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 110

Current account balance:
-$1.014 billion (2014 est.)
-$958.4 million (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 120

Exports:
$1.332 billion (2014 est.)
$1.374 billion (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 154

Exports – commodities:
tobacco 53%, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, apparel (2010 est.)

Exports – partners:
Canada 12.4%, Zimbabwe 9.4%, South Africa 6.7%, US 6.4%, Russia 6.3%, Zambia 6.1%, Germany 6.1%, South Korea 4.3% (2013)

Imports:
$2.498 billion (2014 est.)
$2.52 billion (2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 156

Imports – commodities:
food, petroleum products, semi-manufactures, consumer goods, transportation equipment

Import – partners:
Canada 12.4%, Zimbabwe 9.4%, South Africa 6.7%, US 6.4%, Russia 6.3%, Zambia 6.1%, Germany 6.1%, South Korea 4.3% (2013)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$469.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$435.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151

Debt – external:
$1.729 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.487 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
* country comparison to the world: 149

Exchange rates:
Malawian kwachas (MWK) per US dollar –
412.1 (2014 est.)
364.41 (2013 est.)
249.11 (2012 est.)
156.93 (2011 est.)
150.49 (2010 est.)

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

Geographic coordinates:
13 30 S, 34 00 E

Map references:
Africa

Area:
total: 118,484 sq km
land: 94,080 sq km
water: 24,404 sq km
* country comparison to the world: 100

Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:
total: 2,857 km
border countries (3): Mozambique 1,498 km, Tanzania 512 km, Zambia 847 km

Coastline:
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

Climate:
sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November)

Terrain:
narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: junction of the Shire River and international boundary with Mozambique 37 m
highest point: Sapitwa (Mount Mlanje) 3,002 m

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

Land use:
agricultural land: 59.2%
arable land 38.2%; permanent crops 1.4%; permanent pasture 19.6%
forest: 34%
other: 6.8% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land:
735 sq km (2006)

Total renewable water resources:
17.28 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)::
total: 1.36 cu km/yr (11%/4%/86%)
per capita: 99.86 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards:
N/A

Environment – current issues:
deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; siltation of spawning grounds endangers fish populations

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – note:
landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country’s most prominent physical feature; it contains more fish species than any other lake on earth

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