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About Malawi

Image courtesy of Robin Pope Safaris

Malawi aka the Warm Heart of Africa has the well-respected reputation as being one of the friendliest and most peaceful countries in Africa. Malawi, located in Southeast of Africa, is characterized by a young and vibrant population, diverse society and geography, unique cultures/traditions, and vast natural resources. The name Malawi comes from the word “Maravi”, an old name of the Nyanja People that inhabited the area and boarders Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century. Centuries later in 1891 the area was colonized by the British and established Nyasaland (now Malawi). In 1953 Malawi, a protectorate of the British (United Kingdom), became a protectorate within the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland that included Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Federation was dissolved in 1963. In 1964 the protectorate over Nyasaland was ended and Nyasaland became an independent country with the new name Malawi. Two years later it became a republic. Upon gaining independence it became a one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he lost an election to Bakili Muluzi. Malawi is now a multi-party democratic state, under the current presidency of Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika.

MALAWI AT A GLANCE

Coat_of_arms_of_Malawi.svg

Country: Republic of Malawi (Malawi)
Government: Unitary Presidential Republic
Political System: Multiparty Democracy
Legislature: Unicameral. The sole chamber, the National Assembly has 193members
Election System: First-past-the-post
Capital City: Lilongwe
Other Major Cities/Towns: Blantyre, Mzuzu, Zomba
Currency: Malawi Kwacha (MKW)
Population: 16.7 million (2014) World Bank
Economy: Agriculture, tourism and natural resources
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 4.258 billion USD (2014)
GDP per capita: 272.16 USD (2014) World Bank
Common Language(s): Chichewa/Chinyanja
Official Language: English

Malawi is long and narrow with an area size over 118,000 km2, and about 20% of its total area is made up of Lake Nyasa (now Lake Malawi), ninth largest lake in the world and third largest, second deepest in Africa. Several rivers flow into the lake from the west, and the Shire River (a tributary of the Zambezi) drains the lake in the south. Both the lake and the Shire River lie within the Great Rift Valley.

The majority of Malawi’s inhabitants are Bantu-speakers, comprising of the Chewa, Tumbuka, Nkhonde, Ngoni, Tonga, Nyanja, Lhomwe, Sena, and Yao among others. Over 85% are rural agriculturalists. About 80% of the population is Christian (mostly Presbyterian and Roman Catholic), and roughly 13% is Muslim; others follow traditional beliefs. Chichewa, spoken by about 60% of the people, is the common language; most of the other languages have regional importance.

malawi-administrative-map

Malawi is among the world’s developing countries with the majority of the population involved in subsistence agriculture. The Malawian government has largely depended on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased.

The Malawian government continues to face challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, improving infrastructure, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent. However, Malawi has several programs developed over the years that focus on addressing these issues including diversification to tourism and industry to expand the economy among others.

Image Courtesy of Orakonews

Malawi is governed under the constitution of 1994. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term.

The unicameral legislature consists of the 193-seat National Assembly, the sole chamber whose members are also elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Malawi is a multi-party democratic state and currently using the first-past-the-post electoral system. Administratively, Malawi is divided into 28 districts.

The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi

This Constitution of Malawi, which repealed the Constitution of 1966, was provisionally adopted on May 16, 1994. It came into force a year thereafter on May 18, 1995 and has been amended 13 times since then. The current Constitution contains the amendments up to 2010. The Constitution can be amended by a two thirds majority of the Assembly, but the amendment of its substance can be done only through referendum.

The Constitution, establishing a republican form of government, provides for the separation of judicial, legislative and executive powers. The Executive is composed of the President acting as Head of State and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, up to two Vice Presidents and a Cabinet (Chapter VIII of the Constitution).

The Legislature is made of a unicameral Parliament, vested with all legislative powers of the Republic. Parliament may delegate to the Executive or the Judiciary the power to make subsidiary legislation, provided that such legislation does not substantially and significantly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by the Constitution (Section 58). The Judiciary is composed of a Supreme Court of Appeal, a High Court and Traditional Courts (Chapter IX of the Constitution).

Click here to view/download constitution

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/details.jsp?id=13999