Society of Malawi



Population per sq km: 183

Life expectancy: 58 years

Net primary enrolment: 97% (2009)

Population: 17,215,000 (2015); Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa but, with only 16 per cent of people living in towns, it is also one of the least urbanised; growth 3.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2015; birth rate 39 per 1,000 people (56 in 1970); life expectancy 55 years (41 in 1970).

The largest ethnic group is the Chewa, whose ancestors came from the Congo; the other main groups are Nyanja, Lomwe, Yao and Tumbuka.

Language: Chichewa is the national language and widely spoken. English is the official language. Chinyanja, Chiyao and Chitumbuka (in the north) are major languages.

Religion:  The population is made up of mainly Christians, who constitute 80 per cent of the total; 13 per cent of the population are Muslims (2008 census).

Media: The Daily Times and The Nation/Weekend Nation are dailies.

Radio is the principal source of information for most Malawians. The public broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, provides a national radio service and there are several private commercial and faith radio stations. The government launched Television Malawi in 1999 for the main population centres.

Public holidays: New Year’s Day, John Chilembwe Day (15 January), Martyrs’ Day (3 March), Labour Day (1 May), Kamuzu Day (14 June), Republic Day (6 July), Mothers’ Day (October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday, Easter Monday and Eid al-Fitr/end of Ramadan.