Malawi, located in Southern Africa east of Zambia, is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Its highly tropical climate features a rainy season from November to May and a dry season from May to November. Its terrain includes a narrow elongated plateau, rolling plains and some mountains. The eastern/central area of the country is dominated by Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. Natural resources include limestone, arable land, hydropower, uranium, coal, and bauxite. Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeastern Africa.
Climate. The variable altitude of Malawi provides wide differences in climate. The lowest point is where the Shire Valley approaches its confluence with the Zambezi River, at about 100 ft above sea level. The vast water surface of Lake Malawi also profoundly affects the climate. The margins of the lake have long hot seasons and high humidity, with mean annual temperatures of 24°C (75°F). The temperature generally decreases and the rainfall increases with altitude.
People. More than 10.7 million people reside in Malawi. Inhabitants recognize both English and Chichewa as their official languages, with other languages used regionally. Ethnic groups include Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbako, Yao, Lumwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, and Ngonde, with small Asian and European populations as well. The major religions in Malawi are: Protestant (55%), Roman Catholic (20%), and Muslim (20%) with the remainder of people engaging in traditional indigenous customs.
Economy. Normally self-sufficient in food, especially maize, the main staple, Malawi is facing its worst famine in more than 50 years. Although most people engage in farming, the government is struggling to feed its people. About 70% of the 6 million Malawians who live below the poverty line are in danger of starvation.