Malawi Country Profile

malawi mapMalawi, a Southern African country, is bordered by Mozambique to the south and west, Zambia to the east, and Tanzania to the north. It has an estimated population of 17.2 million as of 2015.

Three regions demarcate Malawi – Northern, Central and Southern. Lilongwe City in central Malawi is the national and administrative capital. Blantyre City is the provincial capital of the Southern province and the country’s commercial and manufacturing hub. Mzuzu is the main town in the Northern province. Zomba, the former political capital, was declared a city in 2008.

For this largely agricultural country, a majority of the population rely on subsistence farming, but the food supply situation is precarious because of climatic challenges. In 2015, flooding in southern districts followed by countrywide drought conditions saw a contraction in agricultural production. Maize, the key crop for food security purposes, saw a 30.2% year-on-year drop in production. As a result, an estimated 2.8 million people are unable to meet their 2015/16 food requirements.

With such conditions, Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.418, ranking 170 out of 187 countries

Efforts are being made to curb such challenges, however corruption, poor infrastructure, economic instability, hunger and an HIV epidemic which continues to claim the lives of tens of thousands still continue to plague the nation.


Malawi’s HIV prevalence is one of the highest in the world. The prevalence is at 10.6% as of 2016. These rates are vary greatly region to region with the southern parts of the region reporting prevalence rates that are twice as high as those in the north and central regions of the country.

HIV/AIDS, the country’s leading cause of mortality, living over 530,000 children orphaned. Over the years, HIV prevalence has decreased by 25%, mainly due to the natural evolution of the epidemic and prevention interventions being implemented.
However, challenges remain in the fight against HIV, including:

  • Low male involvement
  • Low uptake of antiretroviral therapy among children
  • Inadequate human resources and other resources
  • Continued prevalence of cultural practices that enhance HIV transmission
  • Gender and power imbalances.
  1. World Health Organisation  [accessed December 2016]
  2.  United Nations [accessed December 2016]
  3. World Bank [accessed December 2016]
  4. UNDP Human Development Report (2013)
  6. UNAIDS ‘Malawi’   [accessed December 2016]
  7. African Health Observatory 
    [accessed December 2016]