Malawi is a
landlocked country in Southern Africa bordering Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique,
and with a population of over 10.4 million of people of which 87% live in rural
areas. Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa, and three smaller ones take up 20%
of the total area of 94,081 square kilometres.
Malawi gained its independence in 1964 from Great Britain and until
1993 the country remained under the authoritarian rule of Dr. Kamuzu Banda. Political
dissents and public unrest led to the abolishing of single party system as a result a
referendum carried out in 1993. Out of the total vote, 65% were in favour of a multiparty
system, and in May 1994, President Banda lost the presidential election to the United
Democratic Front (UDF) led by Bakili Muluzi.
economically exploitable mineral deposits, but is blessed with fine agricultural resource
with about 18% of the total land being cultivated. Agriculture accounts for 40% of the GDP
and 90% of export revenues. Almost 70% of agricultural produce comes from smallholder
farmers on customary land. The main crops are maize (corn), tobacco, tea, sugarcane,
groundnuts, cotton, wheat, coffee, rice and pulses. In recent years, farmers have been
encouraged to grow cashew nuts and cassava. Severe droughts and price drops in Malawi's
agricultural export commodities contributed to economic difficulties. Moreover, the
country's social services were burdened by about 600,000 refugees from Mozambique.
Malawi has one of the
poorest telecommunications infrastructures in Africa with only 45,000 connected lines in
2000 and a telephone density of 0.44 line per hundred population. The penetration of
telephone lines is highly skewed in the urban areas with the rural areas accounting for
only 21% of the total lines.
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