MALAWI

Malawi  " The warm heart of Africa "                                  
Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa. One of Africa's most beautiful hidden treasures and attractive holiday destinations. It is known for its friendly people, unspoiled national parks and wildlife reserves. Madonna and the adoption of a Malawian girl has also added to the media attention. 
Malawi is dominated by the vast Lake Malawi which is the third largest in Africa and the Great Rift Valley that runs through the country from north to south. Lake Malawi was the world's first fresh water national park and has around 500 species of tropical fish. The largest number of species than any other fresh water lake in the world. Here you can try any number of water activities including diving, snorkeling and kayaking and fishing. Malawi has various types of vegetation throughout the country including wonderful displays of Wild Flowers and over 400 species of Orchids. There are also numerous game reserves and national parks that are uncrowded with an abundance of animals including hippos, crocodiles and elephants, along with a large variety of birdlife offering visitors an amazing wildlife experience whatever type of safari you choose to view the parks by. The Nyika Plateau is one of the world's highest game reserves. It has a unique landscape with a vast area of rolling grasslands and waterfalls. There are large numbers of both Antelopes and Zebras and the highest concentration of Leopard in Central Africa. Southern Malawi is where you find Mount Mulunje, offering some of the best hiking trails in the country.



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General Information                                          
Located within the Southern part of Africa, Malawi lies between latitudes 9 and 18 degrees south of the equator. It is a landlocked country, sharing borders with Tanzania to the north, and north east, Zambia to the West and Mozambique to the east and southwest. Malawi covers an area of about 118,500 km2 .
Elevation above the sea level vary from approximately 30 metres at Nsanje to 3000 metres at Sapitwa on Mount Mulanje, the highest peak in Southern Africa north of Drankensburg. About 20 percent of the country is covered by Lake Malawi, the third largest in Africa. Malawi is a land of contrasts. Though small, Malawi has diverse topography and scenery with a natural vegetation mix of miombo woodland, and savanna.

History
Malawi (formely known as Nyasaland) was a British colony until 1963.  The land came under the British influence as a result of the pioneering activities of Dr David Livingstone in the 19th Century and other Scottish missionaries. In 1891, Rhodes company was given a charter to administer Southern Rhodesia (presently called  Zimbabwe). In the same year, the British government took direct responsibility for the administration of what was then called the British Central African Protectorate.  In the years 1953 to 1963, the British government was confronted with conflicting demands to run the Southern and Northern Rhodesia on the one hand and Nyasaland on the other hand. This prompted the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was a self governing colony with its own assembly and Prime Minister (first Lord Malvern and from 1956, Roy Welensky). In the late 1950’s, a “Wind of Change” blew through colonial Africa. In 1961, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda became Prime Minister of Malawi. He led Malawi to its freedom from the British on 6th July 1964. In 1966, the country became a republic. After 30 years of one party system there was the first multi party elections in1994. Malawi has currently a multi-party democratic system.

Language
The official language of Malawi is English. However, there are other languages which are also spoken in Malawi, the main one being Chichewa.

Climate
Malawi enjoys a sub tropical climate. Warm and Wet Season is experienced from December to April, during which 95 percent of annual precipitation takes place. The average annual rainfall varies from 725 mm to 2500 mm. Cool and Dry season usually occurs from May to August with mean temperatures varying from 17 °C to 27 °C. Temperatures may fall to between 4°C and 10 °C around this season. In addition, frost may occur in isolated areas in June and July. A Hot and dry season lasts from September to November with average temperatures varying from 23  to 35 degrees Celsius. During hot and dry season, temperatures may shoot up the maximum of around 42 degrees Celsius in some areas along the Lakeshore and the Shire Valley.

Business hours
Government offices are open from 7:30 hours to 17:00 hours from Monday to Friday with 1 hour lunch break from 12:00 noon to 13:00 hours. Shops are generally open from 8:00 hours to 17:00 hours though some close around 20:00 hours from Monday to Saturday. Few are open on Sundays.

Banks
There are many commercial banks in Malawi which offer all banking services including international transactions. The  banks include National Bank of Malawi, NBS Bank, First Merchant Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank, Malawi Savings Bank, Ecobank, Opportunity International Bank of Malawi and Indebank. Banks open at 8:00hours and close at 15:00hours from Monday to Friday and 8:00hours to 11:00 hours on Saturdays. However one can withdraw cash from the Auto Teller Machines for 24hours everyday and most of these Auto Teller Machines accept Visa and Mastercard encashment. Banks are closed on Sundays and Public holidays.

Currency
The Malawi currency is Kwacha (MK), which comprises of 100 tambala. When visiting Malawi,  Visa cards, Master cards, and travelers cheques  can easily be exchanged at any of the banks, Bureau de Change and hotels.

Currency Regulations
The Reserve Bank of Malawi manages the foreign exchange reserves. Commercial Banks, forex bureaux and main hotels are authorized to undertake certain foreign exchange transactions without prior reference to the Central Bank. The US dollar, Pound Sterling, the Euro and the South African Rand are well known to most Malawians. Any amount of foreign currency may be imported without prior approval. However, there are issues of money laundering in force and extraordinarily large amounts of cash may cause suspicion and attention of authorities and this may cause some inconvenience to the importer. Those who bring currency into Malawi and wish to re-export it at some stage, whether for personal or business purposes, should be sure that they have a proof of importation given by Customs authorities on entry or repurchase from authorized dealers. Movements of foreign currency for commerce or investment should be transacted through commercial banks.

National flag
The flag has three stripes of colours namely black representing the people of Malawi, red representing struggle for freedom and green representing vegetation. The rising sun on the flag symbolizes the dawn of independence.

Government
There is a democratic system of government based on the Republican constitution. The Government is led by a democratically elected president. There are three arms of Government namely: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Executive is headed by the democratically elected president.  The legislature is headed by the Speaker.  The judiciary is led by the Chief Justice.

Media
There is freedom of the press in Malawi and the media is allowed to exercise their professionalism without any interference.

The Health Sector
Malawi has a network of health facilities. These health facilities are categorized into three namely: public, private for profit, and private not for profit health facilities. The Ministry of Health is the overall coordinator of the health service and health care delivery in Malawi. In the public health care system, there are 4 central hospitals each located in the 4 main cities of Malawi. These are Kamuzu Central hospital in Lilongwe, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre,  Zomba Central Hospital in the city of Zomba and Mzuzu Central hospital in the city of Mzuzu. These hospitals handle much more complicated cases and surgeries. Apart from the four central hospitals there is a network of the district hospitals in all the 28 districts of Malawi. On top of this, there is also a network of health centres and clinics in each and every district. 
The not for profit health care system is coordinated by Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM). This has various mission hospitals in several selected areas. These hospitals charge reasonable fees for their services just to cover the cost of such services. The private profit making health facilities provide their services at a much higher fee than the CHAM hospitals.

UTILITIES

Water
Drinking water in Malawi is safe  and potable in line with the internationally recognized standards. Bottled water is also available.

Electricity
The electrical supply is 220-240v single phase or 380-400 v 3 phase. Plugs for the appliances are the square 3 pin British system.

Telecommunication
Currently, Malawi has one fixed line telephone service provider. A second fixed line telephone service provider has just been awarded a licence.
Mobile phone services are provided by two operators namely Zain and TNM.

Internet
Dial up and Wireless internet facilities are available in all the Cities,  towns and resorts. GPRS facilities are available country wide.

Visas
The following is a list of countries whose citizens do not need visa when coming to Malawi.
Antigua, Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Fiji, Finland, France, The Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Israel, Singapore, Solomo Island, St. Kitts Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Spain, Tonga, Taipei, Taiwan, Mainland China, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Zambia, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Luxemburg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives Island, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Samoa (Western), Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, St Lucia, Swaziland, San Marino, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Northern Ireland, United States of America, Zimbabwe.

More Country Information from Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

 

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