Your guide to being an expatriate in Malawi

Caffeinate Your Malawi Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Tucked away in southeastern Africa, Malawi is a country that exudes charm and history. Malawi has a rich colonial heritage and a melting pot of ethnic groups. The country's name, Malawi, is a nod to the ancient African kingdom of Maravi, which flourished in the region thousands of years ago. Malawi's diverse ethnic groups, including the Chewa, Tumbuka, and Yao, each have their own unique cultures and traditions that add to the country's intriguing heritage.


Expat destinations in Malawi

Demographics of Malawi:

Ethnic groups

  • Chewa
  • Tumbuka
  • Yao
  • Lhomwe
  • Sena
  • Tonga
  • Ngoni
  • Ndau
  • Kiska
  • Ngonde
  • Ng'oni
  • Manyika
  • Sena/Tonga


  • Chichewa
  • Tumbuka
  • Yao
  • Lhomwe
  • Sena
  • Tonga
  • English
  • Cheng'ani

Religion Overview

Malawi is often referred to as the 'Warm Heart of Africa.' The sentiment extends to its religion, which is dominated by Christianity. Sunni Muslims and African traditional beliefs each account for a smaller portion of the Malawian population.

Major Religions


Malawi's geography and elevation contribute to its hot, wet climate. Central and southern Malawi have tropical rainforest climates with lots of sunshine and a measurable rainy season that lasts six months out of the year. The north of Malawi faces a dry season, with below-average temperatures and reduced rainfall. Malawi's climate provides a perfect breeding ground for the coffee cultivated in the north of the country.

Economy Overview

Malawi's economy is driven by agriculture, with over two-thirds of the country's employment arising from the sector. Globally, Malawi is the third-largest producer of tobacco after China and India, and it's the largest producer of cigarette leaves. Malawi's main exports are tobacco, sugar, tea, and coffee.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing

Major Companies

  • Tobacco Association of Malawi
  • Lilly Plantations
  • National Water Bottling Company

Culture and Language Overview

Malawi's variety of indigenous cultures and colonial traditions have resulted in a unique country with an exciting art, literature, dance, and music scene. Malawi's literature is predominantly published in English, while art and music tend to be more varied, reflecting the country's diverse cultural heritage.

Cultural Highlights

  • * Lake Malawi: Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, is the southernmost lake in the East African Rift, known for its stunning clear waters and diverse natural life. It's part of the African Great Lakes and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.
  • * Lake of Stars Festival: This annual music festival in Malawi's Mangochi district is a celebration of Malawi's unique music scene, hosting both international and local artists.
  • * Mombera Snake Park: Mombera Snake Park is a private non-profit organization dedicated to creating awareness about Malawi's snakes and other reptiles through education and conservation.
  • * Mulanje Massif: Mulanje Massif's stunning peaks include the highest mountain in Malawi, Central Africa, and Zimbabwe, Mount Mulanje, which stands at an impressive 3,002 meters (9,849 ft) tall.
  • * Makuzi: Makuzi is a heritage park in the Northern Region of Malawi, recognized for its diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes.
  • * Chongoni Rock Art Area: Chongoni Rock Art Area is home to one of the densest prehistoric rock art collections in Africa, exhibiting paintings, carvings, and engravings depicting ancient rituals, hunts, and animal herds.
  • * Malawian Traditional Dance: Malawi's traditional dance is one of the country's most thrilling cultural exports, portraying traditional themes through storytelling and music.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Malawi is a small country in Southeastern Africa, surrounded by magnificent mountains, rivers, and valleys that accommodate wildlife and diverse flora. Lake Malawi, often referred to as Lake Nyasa, is the country's biggest landmark and a prominent member of the African Great Lakes.

Notable Landmarks

  • Mzimba Island: A volcanic island in Lake Malawi that hosts the cairn-topped burial site of the legendary Aleke Banda and other Malawian cultural heroes.
  • Chitimba Beach: A stunning stretch of white sand on the northern shore of Lake Malawi.
  • Lake Malawi: Lake Malawi is Malawi's major geographical feature, accounting for over 20% of the Malawian territory. Lake Malawi has a diverse and unique underwater life that receives UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
  • Cape Maclear: An idyllic peninsula on the southwestern end of Lake Malawi, providing stunning views of the lake's sunsets and sunrises.
  • Mount Mlanje: Rising high above southern Malawi, Mount Mlanje is the country's third-highest mountain and one of the country's most striking landmarks.
  • Bua River: The Bua River cuts through northern Malawi and forms part of Lake Malawi's drainage basin.
  • The Great Rift Valley: Malawi lies on the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley, a rugged landscape dotted with volcanoes, plateaus, and aridlands.

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Independence Day (July 6)
  • Labour Day (May 1)
  • Malawi's Queen's Birthday (April 21)
  • Malawi's Independence Commemoration Day (June 30)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

Political Stability

Malawi's political landscape has been contentious over recent years, with frequent democratic and constitutional challenges. A significant portion of the Malawian population resides below the poverty line, exacerbated by issues such as ethnic tensions, food insecurity, healthcare delivery, and corruption. Recent political changes have demonstrated potential for political stability and improving human rights, notable through the 2020 Malawian presidential election held in relatively peaceful conditions.

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