Traveling Luck for Malawi

Malawi is located in Southern Africa, east of Zambia.

Malawi has borders with Mozambique for 1569km, Tanzania for 475km and Zambia for 837km.

Land in Malawi is narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains.

Malawian land covers an area of 118480 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

As for the Malawian climate; sub-tropical; rainy season (November to May); dry season (May to November).

Malawian(s) speak Chichewa 57.2% (official), Chinyanja 12.8%, Chiyao 10.1%, Chitumbuka 9.5%, Chisena 2.7%, Chilomwe 2.4%, Chitonga 1.7%, other 3.6% (1998 census).

Malawian National Map

Malawian Map

Regions of Malawi

Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu BANDA the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution which came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA, elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, has struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor, who still leads their shared political party. MUTHARIKA's anti-corruption efforts have led to several high-level arrests and one prominent conviction. Increasing corruption, population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for the country.


Malawi Country Profile

Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounted for nearly 36% of GDP and 80% of export revenues in 2005. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for over 60% of exports. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. The government faces strong challenges, including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, facing up to environmental problems, dealing with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. In 2005, President MUTHARIKA championed an anticorruption campaign. Malawi's recent fiscal policy performance has been very strong, but a serious drought in 2005 and 2006 will heighten pressure on the government to increase spending.

Malawian natural resources include limestone, arable land, hydropower, unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite

landlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature

Malawian religion is Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3% (1998 census).

Natural hazards in Malawi include NA.

Travel Advice on Malawi

Malawi

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Health section (Rabies).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Driving can be hazardous.  Drive carefully and avoid travel after dark.  Always wear seat belts.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Most visits to Malawi are trouble free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Malawi is for replacing stolen passports.

  • You should carry some form of identification (i.e., your passport) with you at all times.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for any activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Be alert to muggers, bag-snatchers and con men.  You should exercise caution with over-friendly people who approach you offering to act as tour-guides.  Do not accept food or drink from strangers.  There have been cases of people being robbed after eating drugged food.
In Lilongwe, the majority of attacks on visitors take place on Kenyatta Drive and around the bus station.  You should take particular care when visiting these areas, especially after dark.  Most Malawi vendors are friendly.  But there have been incidents of tourist harassment by vendors (for example at lakeside resorts), including occasionally with threats of violence.
Armed car jacking is a risk, especially for drivers of four by four vehicles.  If you are attacked do not resist.  Hand over car keys and anything else demanded and stay calm.  It is dangerous to resist or act impulsively.  Drivers have been shot.
House burglaries, including by armed gangs are also a risk.  There has been an increase in burglaries in wealthy residential areas in recent months.  Be alert to anything unusual.  Security precautions at home are as important as on the streets.
Take sensible precautions.  Safeguard valuables and cash.  Deposit them in hotel safes, where practical.  Keep copies of important documents, including passports in a separate place to the documents themselves.

Political Situation


Malawi Country Profile
Road Safety
UK driving licences are acceptable in Malawi for up to 90 days; international driving licences for up to a year.
Driving in Malawi can be hazardous, especially in the rainy season (December - March).  The number of deaths per vehicles on the road is the highest in the world.  Drive carefully and avoid travel after dark.  Potholes, animals and abandoned vehicles often cause serious accidents, as do vehicles travelling at night without lights.  Travel between towns by public minibus or pick-up truck is not recommended.  Vehicles are often in poor condition and overloaded.  Fatal accidents are frequent, and emergency services are basic.
On 1 July 2006 speed traps and breathalyser tests were introduced on Malawi’s roads.  Drivers convicted of offences will face a fine and/or imprisonment.  The blood alcohol limit is 0.08g per 100ml of blood, the same as in the UK.
Air Safety

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Drug taking and smuggling is an offence.  This includes the purchase and use of cannabis.  The punishment can be severe.

Buying uncut precious stones is illegal.

Outside the main tourist areas, women should cover legs and shoulders so as not to offend local sensitivities.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals do not require visas for tourist visits.  Visitors are usually granted 30-day tourist visas on arrival; these can be renewed up to a maximum of 90 days.

Passports should be valid for at least 6 months from the proposed date of entry.

You are not allowed to work as a volunteer, even unpaid, on a tourist visa.  For details on entry requirements as a volunteer, contact the Malawian High Commission in London for Advice.

The Malawian High Commission can also advise on other types of entry requirement, and the procedure for longer stays.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country and/or before permitting the children to leave the country.

For further information on Malawi’s immigration requirements please contact the Malawian High Commission in London.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling, covering medical evacuation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for any activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.
Healthcare standards, particularly in the rural areas, are generally poor.
Malawi has a very high HIV/AIDS infection rate.  You should be alert to the dangers of unprotected sex.
Malaria is endemic and you should seek advice about suitable anti-malarial tablets before travelling.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Malawi.
Rabies is endemic in most African countries.  The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to humans through bites, scratches or contact of saliva with broken skin and can be fatal once symptoms manifest themselves.  All travellers who have possibly been exposed to the rabies virus, whether by bites, scratches or other exposure, should seek medical advice without delay (even if pre-exposure vaccine was received).  This also applies to travellers in low risk areas in case other animal-transmitted infections are present, or the animal may have strayed across the border from an endemic country.  More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre website at: http://www.nathnac.org
Drinking water may not be safe, especially in rural areas.  Bilharzia exists in many lakeshore areas and rivers.  Outbreaks of gastric intestinal infections and cholera occur, especially during the rainy season (December to March).  Tsetse flies carrying sleeping sickness exist in some of the national parks.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at www.dh.gov.uk. 


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
You should carry identity documents (i.e., your passport) at all times and keep a photocopy of your passport and other important documents in a safe place.
All non-Malawian passport holders leaving the country by air are required to pay departure tax of $30 in dollars cash.  This tax applies to adults and children over 2.  You can buy dollars at the airport:  the airport money exchanges open to cater for departing flights.
You should register with the British High Commission Consular Section in Lilongwe on arrival, either in person or by email bhclilongwe@fco.gov.uk if you intend to stay in Malawi for more than a few days.
Money
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Malawi.  Traveller’s cheques or cash are advised as means of exchange.  There are very few ATM machines even in tourist locations.  The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange.