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Currency
malawi.gif.jpgKwacha (MWK)

Official languages
English & Chichewa

Geography
Malawi is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique to the south, southwest and southeast. It lies between latitudes 9° and 18°S, and longitudes 32° and 36°E.

The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi’s eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587 km) long and 52 miles (84 km) wide.

The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 250 miles (400 km) farther south in Mozambique. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 1,500 feet (457 m) above sea level, with a maximum depth of 2,300 feet (701 m), which means the lake bottom is over 700 feet (213 m) below sea level at some points.

In the mountainous sections of Malawi surrounding the Rift Valley, plateaus rise generally 3,000 to 4,000 feet (914 to 1,219 m) above sea level, although some rise as high as 8,000 feet (2,438 m) in the north. To the south of Lake Malawi lie the Shire Highlands, gently rolling land at approximately 3,000 feet (914 m) above sea level. In this area, the Zomba and Mulanje mountain peaks rise to respective heights of 7,000 feet (2,134 m) and 10,000 feet (3,048 m).

Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe, and its commercial center and largest city is Blantyre with a population of over 500,000 people. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006

Climate
Malawi’s climate is hot in the low-lying areas in the south of the country and temperate in the northern highlands. The altitude moderates what would be an otherwise equatorial climate. Between November and April the temperature is warm with equatorial rains and thunderstorms, with the storms reaching their peak severity in late March. After March, the rainfall rapidly diminishes and from May to September wet mists float from the highlands into the plateaus, with almost no rainfall during these months.

Demographics
Malawi has a population of over 15 million, with a growth rate of 2.75%, according to 2009 estimates.

Malawi’s population is made up of the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni and Ngonde native ethnic groups, as well as populations of Asians and Europeans. Major languages include Chichewa, an official language spoken by over 57% of the population, Chinyanja (12.8%), Chiyao (10.1%) and Chitumbuka (9.5%).

Other native languages are Malawian Lomwe, spoken by around 250,000 in the southeast of the country; Kokola, spoken by around 200,000 people also in the southeast; Lambya, spoken by around 45,000 in the northwestern tip; Ndali, spoken by around 70,000; Nyakyusa-Ngonde, spoken by around 300,000 in northern Malawi; Malawian Sena, spoken by around 270,000 in southern Malawi; and Tonga, spoken by around 170,000 in the north.

Religion
According to 2007 estimates, approximately 80% of the population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian making up the largest Christian groups. There are also smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists. Around 13% of the population is Muslim, with most of the Muslim population being Sunni, of either the Qadriya or Sukkutu groups. Other religious groups within the country include Jews, Rastafarians, Hindus and Baha’is. Atheists make up around 4% of the population, although this number includes people who practice traditional African religions.

Health
Infant mortality rates are high, and life expectancy at birth is 50.03 years. There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 930,000 adults (or 11.9% of the population) living with the disease in 2007. There are approximately 68,000 deaths a year from HIV/AIDS (2007). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi’s hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients. The high rate of infection has resulted in an estimated 5.8% of the farm labor force dying of the disease, and HIV/AIDS is expected to lower the country’s GDP by at least 10% by 2010. The government spends over $120,000 each year on funerals for civil servants who die of the disease.

There is a very high degree of risk for major infectious diseases, including bacterial and protozoan diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, plague, schistosomiasis and rabies. Malawi has been making progress on decreasing child mortality and reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; however, the country has been “performing dismally” on reducing maternal mortality and promoting gender equality.

Education
In Malawi, primary education is not compulsory, but the Constitution requires that all people be entitled to at least five years of primary education. In 1994, free primary education for all children was established by the government, which increased attendance rates. Dropout rates are higher for girls than boys, attributed to security problems during the long travel to school, as girls face a higher prevalence of gender-based violence. However, attendance rates for all children are improving, with enrollment rates for primary schools increased from 58% in 1992 to 75% in 2007, while the number of students who begin in grade one and complete grade five has increased from 64% in 1992 to 86% in 2006. Youth literacy has also increased, moving from 68% in 2000 to 82% in 2007. This increase is primarily attributed to improved learning materials in schools, better infrastructure and feeding programs that have been implemented throughout the school system.

Economy
Malawi is among the world’s least developed and most densely populated countries. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas. The economy is based on agriculture, and more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues come from this. In the past the economy has been dependent on substantial economic aid from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other countries.

In December 2000, the IMF stopped aid disbursements due to corruption concerns, and many individual donors followed suit, resulting in an almost 80% drop in Malawi’s development budget. However, in 2005, Malawi was the recipient of over US$575 million in aid. The Malawian government faces challenges in developing a market economy, improving environmental protection, dealing with the rapidly growing HIV/AIDS problem, improving the education system and satisfying its foreign donors that it is working to become financially independent. Improved financial discipline had been seen since 2005 under the leadership of President Mutharika and Financial Minister Gondwe. This discipline has since evaporated as shown by the purchase in 2009 of a private presidential jet followed almost immediately by a nationwide fuel shortage which was officially blamed on logistical problems, but was more likely due to the hard currency shortage caused by the jet purchase. The overall cost to the economy (and healthcare system) is unknown.

In addition, some setbacks have been experienced, and Malawi has lost some of its ability to pay for imports due to a general shortage of foreign exchange, as investment fell 23% in 2009. There are many investment barriers in Malawi, which the government has failed to address, including high service costs and poor infrastructure for power, water and telecommunications. As of 2009, it was estimated that Malawi had a GDP (purchasing power parity) of $12.81 billion, with a per capita GDP of $900, and inflation estimated at around 8.5% in 2009.

Agriculture accounts for 35% of GDP, industry for 19% and services for the remaining 46%. Malawi has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, although economic growth was estimated at 9.7% in 2008 and strong growth is predicted by the International Monetary Fund for 2009. The poverty rate in Malawi is decreasing through the work of the government and supporting organizations, with people living under the poverty line decreasing from 54% in 1990 to 40% in 2006, and the percentage of “ultra-poor” decreasing from 24% in 1990 to 15% in 2007.

Infrastructure
As of 2009, Malawi has 32 airports, 6 with paved runways and 26 with unpaved runways. The country has 495 miles (797 km) of railways, all narrow-gauge, and 9,601 miles (15,451 km) of roadways, 4,322 miles (6,956 km) paved and 5,279 miles (8,496 km) unpaved. Malawi also has 435 miles (700 km) of waterways on Lake Malawi and along the Shire River.

As of 2008, there were 236,000 land line telephones in Malawi, and 1.781 million cell phones, which is almost 15 cell phones per 100 people. There were 316,100 Internet users as of 2008, and 741 Internet hosts as of 2009. As of 2001 there were 14 radio stations and 1 TV station. In the past, Malawi’s telecommunications system has been named as some of the poorest in Africa, but conditions are improving, with 130,000 land line telephones being connected between 2000 and 2007. Telephones are much more accessible in urban areas, with less than a quarter of land lines being in rural areas.

Vissers_LakeMalawi.JPGHighlights
•    Lake Malawi (Lake Nyassa)
•    Nyika National Park
•    Vwaza Marsh National Park
•    Livingstonia
•    Kasungu National Park
•    Liwonde National Park
•    Mount Mulanje
•    Zomba plateau

Mededelingen

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    Medemblik

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