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Malawi Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Africa
Full Name: Republic of Malawi
Capital City: Lilongwe
Language Spoken: Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census)

Malawi Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

13 30 S, 34 00 E

Elevation Extremes

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

Land boundaries

total: 2,881 km border countries: Mozambique 1,569 km, Tanzania 475 km, Zambia 837 km

Natural hazards

NA

Natural resources

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

Land use

arable land: 20.68% permanent crops: 1.18% other: 78.14% (2005)

Environmental current issues

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

Climate

Varies from cool in the highlands to warm around Lake Malawi. Winter (May to July) is dry and nights can be chilly, particularly in the highlands. The rainy season runs from November to March. Around Lake Malawi, in winter, the climate is particularly dry with pleasant cooling breezes.\nRequired clothing\nLightweights are worn all year in the Lake Malawi area, with warmer clothes advised in the mountains, particularly during winter and on chilly evenings elsewhere. Visitors to Nyika and Zomba should note that the nights can be cold. Dark or 'natural' colored clothing should be worn for game viewing.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+2

Population

13,013,926 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 46.5% (male 3,056,522/female 3,000,493) 15-64 years: 50.8% (male 3,277,573/female 3,332,907) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 139,953/female 206,478) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 16.5 years male: 16.2 years female: 16.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

2.38% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

43.13 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

19.33 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 41.7 years male: 41.93 years female: 41.45 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

5.92 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Malawians are characteristically polite and helpful in both personal and business dealings. However, they have a difficult time saying "no", even when they do not agree. English, the official language of Malawi, generally suffices for business communication, although few rural Malawians speak it. The most common vernacular languages include Chichewa (throughout the country), Chitumbuka (primarily in the North), and Yao (primarily in the South).

Crime

Armed robberies and carjackings are becoming common throughout Malawi. Residential break-ins, car theft and petty crime are frequent in urban areas. Travelers have been the victims of robberies and serious assaults and emergency services are extremely basic. The armed hi-jacking of expensive cars and four-wheeled drive vehicles is prevalent, both during the day and at night. Lock doors while driving and conceal valuables. Be wary of small groups in quiet areas. Visitors to Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and tourist destinations such as Nkhata Bay, Senga Bay (aka Salima) and Cape Maclear should be alert to muggers, bag snatchers and con men. In recent months several British visitors have been robbed at knifepoint in Senga Bay, Nkhata Bay and Blantyre. A British national was murdered recently near Mzuzu. Visitors should be wary of drugs being planted in their luggage. This results in bogus policemen demanding money to allow onward travel. Be cautious with over-friendly people who offer to act as tour guides. The long-awaited Anti-Corruption Bureau, first promised in 1994, finally became operational in February 1997. It is constitutionally mandated to investigate and prosecute corruption. Given widespread disappointment that the bureau has been slow in materializing, the government must prove that the bureau will operate efficiently and transparently. Investigations must be completed; cases referred to court must be prosecuted in a timely manner; and, judicial decisions must be handed down expeditiously.

Hotels

In the main centers there are excellent hotels, the most sophisticated being in Blantyre and Lilongwe. In addition, there are some excellent lodge-style hotels in the main tourist resorts.

Communications

Telephone IDD is available. Country code is 265 (there are no city codes). Outgoing international code is 101. Malawi's telecommunications infrastructure is overburdened, and service is deteriorating. Telecommunications with Zimbabwe and South Africa are especially bad. Most corporate offices and tourist class hotels have telephones and faxes. There is no local Internet provider. Post offices are generally open 0730-1200 and 1300-1700 Monday to Friday. Post offices in some of the larger towns may be open 0900-1000 Sunday, but only to sell stamps or to accept telegrams.

Electricity

is 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, most modern buildings using square 3-pin plugs. Electricity 230 volts AC, 50Hz. The standard plug is square three-pin.

Plug Types

G

Food And Dining

Fresh fish from Lake Malawi is the country's specialty, chambo (Tilapia fish) being the main lake delicacy. There are trout from streams on the Zomba, Mulanje and Nyika plateau. Hotel restaurants and many of those in the cities are of a good standard. They offer a wide choice of dishes including European, Korean and Chinese as well as authentic Malawi dishes and haute cuisine. Poultry and dairy produce are plentiful and tropical fruits are abundant in season. The local beer is very good and imported beer and soft drinks are widely available. Malawi gin and tonic is well known and inexpensive, with almost cult status. Wine is imported largely from South Africa.
Tipping:
Generally not expected, but some employees who are very poorly paid might appreciate a small tip for good service.
Nightlife
There is little nightlife in the European or US sense. Some restaurants have entertainment as do some of the hotels but outside Blantyre and Lilongwe this will usually take the form of a display of dancing during or after dinner at the lakeshore hotels.

Entry departure requirements

* Please see visa section below

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for at least six months beyond date of intended departure required by all.

Visas

Required by all except the following:
(a) nationals of countries referred to in the chart above, except 1. nationals of Austria, Czech republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic and Slovenia, who do need a visa
(b) nationals of Commonwealth countries (except Cameroon, India, Nigeria and Pakistan who do require a visa);
(c) nationals of Iceland, Israel, Madagascar, Norway, San Marino and Zimbabwe;
(d) foreign nationals in transit who are continuing their journey by the same or connecting aircraft to a third country within 24 hours. Permission must be obtained to leave the airport, however.

Types of visa and cost

Single-entry: US$77 Multiple-entry: US$120 (up to six months); US$155 (up to one year). Transit: US$55

Validity

Three months from date of issue.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy or High Commission); see General Info section.

Application requirements

(a) Valid passport. (b) Two application forms. (c) Two passport-size photos. (d) Fee. (e) Onward or return air ticket. (f) Proof of means of support during residence in country. (g) Confirmed hotel booking or host address of where visitor may stay. (h) Letter from company/sponsor, where required. (i) For postal applications, pre-paid recorded delivery envelope.

Working days required

In most cases, applications will be processed within five working days, but for nationals of India, Nigeria and Pakistan, applications may take two to three weeks.

Temporary residence

Application should be made prior to arrival. Contact the Controller of Immigration Services, PO Box 331, Blantyre, Malawi.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

A passenger service charge of US$30 (payable in US currency) is levied on all international flights. Malawi passport holders can pay in local currency (K950). Children under two years of age and transit passengers are exempt.

Embassies

High Commission for the Republic of Malawi and Malawi Tourist Office in the UK

36 John Street, Holborn, London WC1N 2AT
(Previously 33 Grosvenor Street, London W1K 4QT, UK)
Tel: (020) 7491 4172/7.
Website: http://www.malawihighcommission.co.uk/
E-mail: [email protected] (tourism section).
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1600.

Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in the USA

1156 15th Atreet, Suite 320, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
Tel: (202) 721 0270. Fax: (202) 721 0270.

Travel Advice

Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Driving can be hazardous. Travelers should drive carefully, avoid traveling after dark and should always wear seat belts.
There have been armed car-jackings, especially of 4 x 4 vehicles. Travelers are warned not to resist.
In Lilongwe, the majority of attacks on visitors take place on Kenyatta Drive and around the bus station. Travelers should take care when visiting these areas.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

Currency

Kwacha (MWK) = 100 tambala. Notes are in denominations of MWK500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of MWK1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 tambala.

Currency restrictions

The import of local currency is unlimited. The export of local currency is limited to K200. The import of foreign currency is unlimited on arrival. The export of foreign currency is allowed up to the amount imported and declared on entry.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1400.

Currency exchange

US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, Euros or South African Rand are readily exchanged but lesser-known currencies may prove difficult to exchange.

Credit cards

Acceptance of credit and debit cards is very limited, although in Lilongwe and Blantyre and in main hotels, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa can be used. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

Traveller's cheques can be exchanged in banks, hotels and other institutions. In remote areas, the Treasury Office of Local District Commissioner's offices will cash travelers cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling or South African Rand.

N/A

  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Avoid dental care in Malawi

Medication Availability

Limited supplies of medication are generally available in the hospitals or the larger pharmacies in the capital

Blood supplies

Blood supplies should be considered as unsafe in Malawi

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are basic at best. Some medicines are in short supply or locally unobtainable. Travelers should be aware that contrary to the frequent claims of the local tourist industry, Lake Malawi does contain the parasite schistosomiasis, aka bilharzia. Malaria is endemic throughout Malawi. HIV/AIDS is also prevalent.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. People with allergies may suffer discomfort from pollen or other airborne allergenic irritants. If you are subject to serious asthma attacks, bring appropriate medicines.

Immunization

Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne diseases: are major causes of illness. Many diseases are endemic, with only scattered cases being reported and, from time to time, more extensive outbreaks. Dengue fever - occurs Filariasis - prevalent Leishmaniasis - occurs (both cutaneous and visceral types may be found, particularly in the drier areas) Malaria - prevalent Onchocerciasis (river blindness) - prevalent Relapsing fever - occurs Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) - occurs (human type - mainly in small, isolated areas - is reported) Typhus - occurs (louse-, flea-, and tick-borne types occur) Food-borne and water-borne illness: highly endemic. The dysenteries and diarrheal diseases, giardiasis, the typhoid fevers and viral hepatitis are widespread. Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) is widespread in animal-breeding areas. Cholera - occurs Dracunculiasis - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - prevalent Schistosomiasis - common (including Lake Malawi) Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Polio is still considered a possible risk, although cases have rarely been reported in recent years. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - common Trachoma - prevalent

Entry requirements

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers coming from infected areas.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
Adventist Health CentreArea 14 Presidential Way Lilongwe
Blantyre Adventist HospitalBox 51 Blantyre
MARS ClinicArea 43 Lilongwe
Medical Rescue Services ClinicArea 43 Ufulu Road Blantyre
Mwaiwathu Private HospitalOld Chileka Road PO Box 3067 Blantyre

Media

Radio is the chief source of information.
Press: There are two main daily English-language newspapers, The Daily Times and The Nation. The Malawi News is published weekly.
TV: Television Malawi is state-run.
Radio: Radio Malawi Broadcasting Corporation operates national networks Radio One and Radio Two.

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