Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centred in the black band.
Location: Southern Africa, east of Zambia.
Geographic coordinates: 13 30 S, 34 00 E.
Climate: sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November).
Independence: 6 July 1964 (from UK).
Capital City: Lilongwe.
Head of State: President Bakili MULUZI.
Area: 118,480 sq km.
Type of Government: multiparty democracy.
Currency: 1 Malawian kwacha (MK) = 100 tambala.
Major peoples: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian, European.
Religion: Protestant 55%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs.
Official Language: English , Chichewa.
Principal Languages: English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally.
Major Exports: tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products.
History: The Maravi kingdom, centred in the Shire River valley, arose during the 15th century. At the peak of its power it reached as far south as present-day Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). During the late 18th century the kingdom declined as a result of warfare and internal conflicts.
In 1859, David LIVINGSTONE, the British explorer, visited the area, and this paved the way for the arrival of British and Scottish settlers. In 1891 the British protectorate of Nyasaland was created. In 1953, Nyasaland became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Internal opposition to the federation led to the birth of a nationalist movement. In 1963 the federation was dissolved, and in 1964 the independent nation of Malawi was declared.
According to the constitution of 1966, Malawi is a republic. The Malawi Congress party (MCP) is the sole legal political party. Dr. H. Kamuzu BANDA, who has served as leader of the MCP since 1958 and as president since 1966, was declared president-for-life in 1971. Because there is no prime minister he also serves as head of the cabinet and holds several cabinet posts.
The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 112 members of the MCP elected to serve 5-year terms.
The president may appoint an unlimited number of additional members. Malawi, long the only black African nation with formal diplomatic relations with South Africa, became increasingly isolated in the early 1990s, but Banda continued to resist political reforms. Despite the first significant anti-government demonstrations in three decades, one-party legislative elections were held as scheduled in 1992.