Malawi – Travel Guide
Facts to assist you while travelling to Malawi
- The Malawian population currently stands at 20.9 million.
Capital and Largest City
- Lilongwe is the capital and largest city in Malawi.
- English, Chichewa are the official languages of Malawi.
- The Kwacha is the official currency of Malawi.
- 07:30 – 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00.
- Saturday and Sunday.
- UTC +2.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- Lazarus Chakwera is the president of Malawi and has been in office since June of 2020.
- Malawi has a relatively dry sub-tropical climate. The country has a warm-wet season that lasts from November to April. During this time Malawi receives most of its annual precipitation. Extreme weather conditions have been reported in the past, but nothing concerning has occurred recently. However, the low-lying areas such as Lower Shire Valley and some localities in Salima and Karonga are more vulnerable to floods than areas situated on higher grounds.
- Malawi’s main airport is Lilongwe International Airport, located in Lilongwe. The transportation systems and infrastructure in Malawi is poorly developed. The country has 39 airports, 6 with paved runways and 33 with unpaved runways.
- Malawi’s main industries that contribute largely to its economy include food and beverages, forestry, pharmaceutical, electricity, and agriculture.
- Malawi’s greatest asset is said to be its people. Locals in Malawi are wonderful, friendly, and warmly welcoming. All visitors and tourists are met with smiles and a truly genuine, hearty welcome. Malawi is one of the more densely populated countries in the east of Africa, so most of the population is rural, living largely in fascinating traditional villages. Hence, when visiting Malawi, you should expect amazing cultural aspects you’ve never experienced before.
- In Malawi it is considered rude not to greet someone, especially an elder. ‘’Muli bwanji,’’ is the appropriate greeting and the one that is most often used. It is common to greet everyone with a handshake accompanied by this greeting. Malawians also consider it respectful if you lightly grasp your right forearm with your left hand. This can also be accompanied by a slight dip at the knees, or by bowing down the head.
- The Kwacha is the official currency of Malawi since 1971, and was instated to replace the Malawian pound. The name kwacha was first used in Zambia, and is derived from the Chinyanja word meaning “it has dawned.’’ The Malawian Kwacha is divided into 100 tambala.
- Although Malawi is one of the poorer countries in Africa, getting around Malawi is easy compared with many other African countries. Malawi has a good network that connects all the main settlements. Although it is not the best, the country’s roads are in reasonable condition, and cars are generally roadworthy. The Motola minibus system is affordable, but traveling this way is sometimes unsafe.
- Malawi is a safe country to visit, as the country does not present any major risks or threats apart from petty crimes. The most common petty crimes include taxi risks, pick-pocketers, floods, mugging, and scams. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Leave valuables and cash in a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents in a separate place Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible.
- Many Malawians are descendants of the Bantu people who moved across Africa and into Malawi for hundreds of years. There is a rich cultural mix in Malawi with the Chewa being the largest tribe in the country. The Chewa makes up about 34% of the population, according to the 2018 census. Others notable tribes include the Lomwe, Yao, Ngoni, and Tumbuka. Each tribe has contributed to Malawi’s extensive cultural scene in their own way, whether it be in dress or dance or language. Masks are commonly used in various dances and ceremonies, and these are usually tribe specific. The majority of the population in Malawi are Christian. Some who are Muslims are descendants of the Swahili-Arab slave-traders who operated in this area. There are also other religions like traditionalists, Hindus and Buddhists.
- Malawi has a good selection of modern stores and malls for expats to visit, especially in the larger cities and urban areas. Shopping in Malawi is safe and convenient. Malawi also has a number of reliable online stores.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams