Life in Malawi

Malawi (formally known as Nyasaland) is a beautiful landlocked country in South East Africa bordered by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. The name “Malawi” is derived from the name Maravi who were a tribe of people who migrated to the country from the southern Congo region around 1400 AD.

The country is globally renowned for the arrival of the famous Scottish explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone in 1859, who established Christian ministries throughout the country. A large part of their work at that time was to help bring about the end of slavery in Malawi, which was finally abolished in the country in 1897. 

From Livingstone’s arrival, Malawi proceeded to be under British colonial rule for approximately 80 years until the country finally gained its independence in 1964. Due to a struggling economy and a lack of bio-diversity matched with an ever-increasing population, Malawi is now the poorest country, in the world with a long way to go in establishing itself without the need for foreign aid.

Economy and Demographics


  • The economy of Malawi is very much based around agriculture with a very high dependency on tobacco (70% of export revenues between 2007 and 2008). Over 90% of the country’s total export revenue is a combination of tea, sugar, coffee and tobacco.

  • One of the main problems most Malawian tobacco farmers are facing at the moment stems from the global decline in the tobacco industry, leaving them working tirelessly for a very small if any profit to buy food. As such the country is looking towards other crops to grow in order to sustain the growth of the economy and the country.

  • Life expectancy in Malawi is only 53 years old, and half the population are under 15 years old.

  • 30% of people living in the increasingly congested towns and cities are suffering from HIV or AIDS, and most are living in extremely challenging situations worsened by a lack of clean water and poor sanitation.

  • The population, which once stood at 4 million in the late 1960’s, now stands at almost 18 million and world health organisations have predicted the growth of the population to reach 40 million by 2050, which is a frightening prospect for a country with such limited resources.



 Above: Life in Malawi - a short film about life in Malawi filmed by Save the Children.


As with most counties throughout the world, it is easy to find people living with very little, while also somehow managing to find a way to get by. This is what most Malawians are doing right now with over 50% of the population living on less than £1 a day.

Unfortunately, due to the current global recession, food shortages and a rapidly growing population, this peaceful country, made up of many tribes of Southern Africa, is now facing its biggest challenge.


Above: A beautiful video about a day in the life of a young girl called Memory. It shows her at school, at play and with her family.