Today marks two months until I leave for Malawi, and I’m getting more and more excited each day!! Before researching the copious Peace Corps openings a year ago, I had never even heard of Malawi, so I thought it would be helpful to compile some facts and figures for those of you who have also never heard of this tiny little country that I will soon call home.
Malawi is located in southeastern Africa, and it is landlocked. It is bordered by the countries of Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique, and most of its eastern border is made up of beautiful Lake Malawi.
Malawi is home to over 18 million people, and it is one of the least developed nations in the world. It has been plagued with illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, high maternal and infant mortality rates, violence related to suspected witchcraft, gender inequality, and, until recently, child marriage. Much of Malawi’s economy is reliant upon agriculture, and the weather can play a devastating role in the lives of Malawians. A little over 50% of Malawians live below the poverty line, and 25% live in extreme poverty. But despite these hardships, Malawians are widely regarded as some of the kindest, most welcoming people in the world. Malawi is fondly referred to as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” and this nickname has more to do with the warmth of the people than with the climate.
Here are some fast facts:
Language: The national language is English, but the most widely spoken languages are Chichewa and Chitumbuka.
Currency: Kwacha (725 Kwacha per US dollar)
Wildlife: Elephants (yay!!), hippos, big cats, monkeys, bats, and a wide variety of birds and fish. There are five national parks, four wildlife and game reserves, and two other protected areas in Malawi.
Religion: The majority of Malawians identify as Christian, but there is a significant minority who identify as Muslim.
Regions and Climate: Malawi is divided into three regions: Northern, Central, and Southern. The Great Rift Valley runs through Malawi from North to South, with mountains rising up on either side. The Northern region has a much higher elevation, which means that it is much more temperate than the lower Southern region, which can get quite hot. The rainy season runs from about November to April, and the dry season lasts from about May to October. There’s also a Shire River and the Shire Highlands, so excuse me while I geek out about moving to Middle Earth. 🙂
I can’t wait to learn more about this country firsthand, but until then, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or just give it a google. 🙂
Also, here are some additional resources, if you’d like to learn more: