The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi's eastern boundary.
Malawi has a high rate of AIDS, and a correspondingly high number (an estimated one million) of orphans, most of whose parents died from AIDS.
Malawi's National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected to serve five-year terms.
Malawi is known as the "Warm Heart of Africa.
The government of Malawi has been a multiparty democracy since 1994.
Malawi has continued the pro-Western foreign policy established by former President Banda.
Under this principle, refugees who requested asylum in another country first, or who had the opportunity to do so, would not subsequently be granted asylum in Malawi.
The population of Lilongwe —Malawi's capital since 1971— exceeds 400,000.
Following the collapse of apartheid in 1994, Malawi developed, and currently maintains, strong diplomatic relations with all African countries.
From 1964–2010, the Flag of Malawi was made up of three equal horizontal stripes of black, red, and green with a red rising sun superimposed in the center of the black stripe.
Malawi is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most densely populated countries with a population of 12 million.
Between 1985 and 1995, Malawi accommodated more than a million refugees from Mozambique.
Malawi has undertaken economic structural adjustment programs supported by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other donors since 1981.
The paramilitary wing of the MCP, the Young Pioneers, helped keep Malawi under authoritarian control until the 1990s.
In 1966, Malawi became a republic, with Dr. Banda as its first president, and was also declared a one-party state.
In 1970 Dr. Banda was declared president for life of the MCP, and in 1971 he consolidated his power and was named president-for-life of Malawi itself.
Predominantly a rural people, Malawians are generally conservative and traditionally nonviolent.
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved late in 1963, and Malawi became fully independent the next year.
In 1996, Malawi received a number of Rwandan and Congolese refugees seeking asylum.
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa, although sometimes it is considered to also be situated in East Africa.
Blantyre remains Malawi's major commercial center and largest city.
Traditionally Malawi has been self-sufficient in its staple food, maize, and during the 1980s exported substantial quantities to its drought-stricken neighbors.
The refugee crisis placed a substantial strain on Malawi's economy but also drew significant inflows of international assistance.
Malawi saw its first transition between democratically elected presidents in 2004, when the UDF's presidential candidate, Bingu wa Mutharika, won.
On reaching the area north of Lake Malawi, the Maravi divided.
Hominid remains and stone implements have been identified in Malawi dating back more than one million years, and early humans inhabited the vicinity of Lake Malawi fifty thousand to sixty thousand years ago.
The islands of Likoma and Chisumula belong to Malawi but lie entirely within Mozambique territorial waters, forming maritime enclaves.
Malawi's new constitution (1995) eliminated special powers previously reserved for the MCP.
Malawi has a variety of religious denominations that operate in an atmosphere of tolerance.
Subsequently, Scottish Presbyterian churches established missions in Malawi.
Malawi qualified for Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt relief.
Malawi's economic reliance on the export of agricultural commodities renders it particularly vulnerable to external shocks such as declining terms of trade and drought.
Malawi's judicial system, based on the English model, is made up of magisterial lower courts, a High Court, and a Supreme Court of Appeal.
Malawi's president recently urged farmers to consider growing other crops, such as cotton, as an alternative to the country's principal crop, tobacco, as cigarette consumption in the West continues to decline.
Malawi has bilateral trade agreements with its two major trading partners, South Africa and Zimbabwe, both of which allow duty-free entry of Malawian products into their countries.
Migrations and tribal conflicts precluded the formation of a cohesive Malawian society until the turn of the twentieth century.
Malawians have an extraordinary sense of loyalty, with a strong bond to their family and clan.
Malawi's manufacturing industries are situated around the city of Blantyre.
Malawi derives its name from the Maravi, a Bantu people who came from the southern Congo about six hundred years ago.
Malawi's close relations with South Africa throughout the apartheid era strained its relations with other African nations.