Malawi: People & Society#

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian
Ethnic groupsChewa 32.6%, Lomwe 17.6%, Yao 13.5%, Ngoni 11.5%, Tumbuka 8.8%, Nyanja 5.8%, Sena 3.6%, Tonga 2.1%, Ngonde 1%, other 3.5%
LanguagesEnglish (official), Chichewa (common), Chinyanja, Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe, Chinkhonde, Chingoni, Chisena, Chitonga, Chinyakyusa, Chilambya
ReligionsChristian 82.6%, Muslim 13%, other 1.9%, none 2.5% (2008 est.)
Demographic profileMalawi has made great improvements in maternal and child health, but has made less progress in reducing its high fertility rate. In both rural and urban areas, very high proportions of mothers are receiving prenatal care and skilled birth assistance, and most children are being vaccinated. Malawi’s fertility rate, however, has only declined slowly, decreasing from more than 7 children per woman in the 1980s to about 5.5 today. Nonetheless, Malawians prefer smaller families than in the past, and women are increasingly using contraceptives to prevent or space pregnancies. Rapid population growth and high population density is putting pressure on Malawi’s land, water, and forest resources. Reduced plot sizes and increasing vulnerability to climate change, further threaten the sustainability of Malawi’s agriculturally based economy and will worsen food shortages. About 80% of the population is employed in agriculture. Historically, Malawians migrated abroad in search of work, primarily to South Africa and present-day Zimbabwe, but international migration became uncommon after the 1970s, and most migration in recent years has been internal. During the colonial period, Malawians regularly migrated to southern Africa as contract farm laborers, miners, and domestic servants. In the decade and a half after independence in 1964, the Malawian Government sought to transform its economy from one dependent on small-scale farms to one based on estate agriculture. The resulting demand for wage labor induced more than 300,000 Malawians to return home between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. In recent times, internal migration has generally been local, motivated more by marriage than economic reasons.
Age structure0-14 years: 46.53% (male 4,299,076/female 4,341,129)
15-24 years: 20.49% (male 1,889,240/female 1,915,843)
25-54 years: 27.26% (male 2,512,247/female 2,549,766)
55-64 years: 3.03% (male 268,691/female 294,713)
65 years and over: 2.69% (male 220,608/female 279,008) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 94.5%
youth dependency ratio: 87.9%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.7%
potential support ratio: 14.9% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 16.5 years
male: 16.3 years
female: 16.6 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate3.32% (2016 est.)
Birth rate41.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate8.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 16.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.77% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - populationLILONGWE (capital) 905,000; Blantyre-Limbe 808,000 (2015)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth18.9
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)
Maternal mortality rate634 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 44.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 61.2 years
male: 59.2 years
female: 63.2 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate5.54 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate46.1% (2010)
Health expenditures11.4% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
Hospital bed density1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 95.7% of population
rural: 89.1% of population
total: 90.2% of population
urban: 4.3% of population
rural: 10.9% of population
total: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 47.3% of population
rural: 39.8% of population
total: 41% of population
urban: 52.7% of population
rural: 60.2% of population
total: 59% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate9.11% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS976,300 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths26,700 (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate4.3% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight16.7% (2014)
Education expenditures5.6% of GDP (2015)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 65.8%
male: 73%
female: 58.6% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2011)
Child labor - children ages 5-14total number: 993,318
percentage: 26% (2006 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 8.6%
male: 9.1%
female: 8.2% (2013 est.)