Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of 16,777,547 (July 2013 est.). Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed:
"The Warm Heart of Africa"
Malawi is among the smallest countries in Africa. Lake Malawi takes about a third of Malawi's area.
The area of Africa now known as Malawi was settled by migrating Bantu groups around the 10th century. Centuries later in 1891 the area was colonised by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, a protectorate of the United Kingdom, became a protectorate within the semi-independent Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Federation was dissolved in 1963. In 1964 the protectorate over Nyasaland was ended and Nyasaland became an independent country under Queen Elizabeth II with the new name Malawi. Two years later it became a republic. Upon gaining independence it became a one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he lost an election. Arthur Peter Mutharika is the current president. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. The country has a Malawian Defence Force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organisations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA and the African Union AU.
Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, healthcare, environmental protection, and becoming financially iindependent. Since 2005, Malawi has developed several programs that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving, with a rise in the economy, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.
Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labour force and government expenditures. There is a diverse population of native peoples, Asians and Europeans, with several languages spoken and an array of religious beliefs. Although there was periodic regional conflict fuelled in part by ethnic divisions in the past, by 2008 it had diminished considerably and the concept of a Malawian nationality had re-emerged.
Human rights As of 2010, international observers noted issues in several human rights areas. Excessive force was seen to be used by police forces, security forces were able to act with impunity, mob violence was occasionally seen, and prison conditions continued to be harsh and sometimes life-threatening. However, the government was seen to make some effort to prosecute security forces who used excessive force. Other legal issues included limits on free speech and freedom of the press, lengthy pretrial detentions, and arbitrary arrests and detentions. Societal issues found included violence against women, human trafficking, a nd child labour. Corruption within the government is seen as a major issue, despite the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) attempts to reduce it. The ACB appears to be successful at finding and prosecuting low level corruption, but higher level officials appear to be able to act with impunity. Corruption within security forces is also an issue. Malawi had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. In 2015 Malawi raised the legal age for marriage from 15 to 18. Other issues that have been raised are lack of adequate legal protection of women from sexual abuse and harassment, very high maternal mortality rate, and abuse related to accusations of witchcraft.
As of 2010, homosexuality has been illegal in Malawi, and in one recent case, a couple perceived as homosexual faced extensive jail time when convicted. The convicted pair, sentenced to the maximum of 14 years of hard labour each, were pardoned two weeks later following the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In May 2012, President Joyce Banda pledged to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality.
Religion Malawi is a majority Christian country, with a significant Muslim minority, although the exact figures are disputed. There is limited data with widely varying estimates on religious affiliation in the country. According to the Malawi Religion Project run by the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, approximately 69% of the population identify as Christians, 26% as Muslim and 6% as "other". Slightly more dated CIA statistics from 1998 indicate that 82% of the population was Christian, with 13% Muslim. The largest Christian groups in Malawi are the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP). Protestants form half of the population, while Roman Catholics another one-fifth of the population. The CCAP is the biggest Protestant denomination in Malawi with 1.3 million members. There are smaller Presbyterian denominations like the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Malawi and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Malawi. There are also smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses (approx. 89,000), evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, and the Lutheran Church of Central Africa. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had just over 2,000 members in the country at the end of 2015.
Most of the Muslim population is Sunni, of either the Qadriya or Sukkutu groups, with a few who follow the Ahmadiyya branch of Islam.
Other religious groups within the country include Rastafarians, Hindus, Baha'is (0.2%) and around 300 Jews. Atheists make up around 4% of the population, although this number may include people who practice traditional African religions
Wikipedia: List of Christian denominations in Malawi
CONGOMA is a membership umbrella organization for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)