Health in Malawi

General information

Malawi is a long, narrow south-east African country shaped by the dramatic Rift Valley, with Lake Malawi a dominant feature. It is bordered by Mozambique to the east, south and south-west, by Zambia to the north and north-west, and by the United Republic of Tanzania to the north and north-east.
There are three regions: the northern (capital Mzuzu), the central (capital Lilongwe) and the southern (capital Blantyre).

Climate

The tropical climate is tempered by altitude and cooler on the high plateaux. There are three seasons: a cool, dry season from mid-April to August; a warm, dry season from September to November; and a rainy season (receiving 90 per cent of precipitation) from December to April. Most of the country is well watered, receiving 800-2,500 mm of rain, with some areas in the high plateaux receiving 3,500 mm p.a.

Environment

The most significant environmental issues are deforestation; soil degradation; and water pollution by agricultural run-off, sewage and industrial wastes.

Population

15,906,000 (2012); Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa but with only 16 per cent of people living in towns, one of the least urbanised. The population growth rate stood at 2.4 per cent p.a. between the years of 1990 and 2012. In 2012 the birth rate was 40 per 1,000 people (56 in 1970) and life expectancy was 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.

Economy

Malawi is classified as a low-income economy by the World Bank.

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