Preface Last Updated: 5/12/2004 3:50 AM
Fiery sunlight glittering from Lake Nyasa gave the name "Malawi"
- land of flaming waters - to an ancient Bantu empire. Present-day
descendants revived the name when what had once been Nyasaland
became independent in 1964 strings along the lake's palm-fringed
shores in a strip 50 to 100 miles wide.
Early humans inhabited the vicinity of Lake Malawi 50,000-60,000
years ago. Hominid remains and stone implements dating back more
than one million years have been identified. The first significant
Western contact began with the arrival of David Livingstone along
the shore of Lake Malawi in 1859. Subsequently, Scottish churches
established missions there; one of their main objectives was to end
the slave trade.
Malawi is traversed in part by a deep depression that runs
through its center - the Great Rift Valley. In this deep trough lies
Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. Lilongwe, the capital
since 1975, is in a high, central plateau area. City Center and the
surrounding residential areas were literally carved out of the bush,
and in some ways still retain the atmosphere of a small settlement.
Lilongwe is, however, attracting increasing commercial activity, and
its population has grown from 19,000 in 1966 to over 400,000 in
Malawian customs and mores have grown out of a tradition of
individual worth combined with a spirit of community. Although
Malawi is not yet on the main tourist circuit, the temperate
climate, game parks, and the beaches of Lake Malawi all contribute
to an interesting and agreeable setting. The friendly people of
Malawi and the pleasant environment make a tour here very enjoyable.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:01 AM
Completely landlocked in southeast Africa, Malawi borders Zambia,
Tanzania, and Mozambique. Malawi's southern tip lies 130 miles
inland from the sea. Altitude varies from less than 200 feet above
sea level at Nsanje in the south to almost 10,000 feet at the peak
of Mount Mulanje. Malawi's topography consists of high, well-watered
plateaus broken by large hills.
Malawi covers 46,066 square miles and is about the size of
Pennsylvania. A deep depression, its chief physical feature, runs
through the center and forms part of the Great Rift Valley. In this
depression are Lake Malawi and the Shire Valley. Lake Malawi, about
1,500 feet above sea level and 380 miles long, is Africa's third
largest lake and Malawi's major tourist attraction. In Malawi's
north and central areas are the Nyika, Vipya, and Dedza uplands,
rising from 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. In the south, the
Shire Highlands plateau averages 3,000-4,000 feet, with occasional
peaks such as Zomba (7,000 feet) and Mulanje (10,000 feet). Malawi
has wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to April;
the heaviest rainfall occurs between December and March. The dry
season begins in May and lasts until November. It is hottest just
before rains begin.
The capital, Lilongwe (altitude 3,400 feet) is in a high, central
plateau area. The average daily temperature in Lilongwe during
October is 84.6°F. June, July, and August are the coolest months,
and nights can be quite chilly when temperatures drop to between
41°F and 57°F. Frost occasionally occurs in Lilongwe. During the dry
season, particularly September and October, high winds and some dust
occur. The annual mean temperature in Lilongwe is 67.4°F, and the
annual rainfall is 31.9 inches. Nights are generally cool and
pleasant in Lilongwe, even during the hottest weather. Dry season
days are generally sunny and warm; rains during the wet season are
brief. The Blantyre area is more mountainous, and its weather more
humid. The climate is also more hot and humid around Lake Malawi.
Population Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:04 AM
Malawi is one of Africa's most densely populated countries, with
a population of over 11 million people. Less than one percent of the
population is of European or Asian origin. Americans living in
Malawi number about 600, the vast majority of whom are missionaries.
The American population also includes U.S. Government officials,
Peace Corps Volunteers, and some private contractors and business
The African population includes six principal tribes. Although
there are distinct linguistic and cultural differences between
ethnic groups, geographic region tends to be the predominant means
of group identification. English is one of the official languages,
though it is not commonly used outside major urban centers. More
than 50% of the people speak Chichewa, the other official language,
and almost everyone understands it. The second most important local
language, Tumbuka, is spoken in the north.
In the past, many Malawians worked abroad, but fewer South
African mine labor contracts have decreased this number greatly.
Sizable numbers of Malawians still reside and work in Zimbabwe and
Zambia. Most move to the U.K. where salaries and living conditions
are more attractive.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 5/12/2004 7:18 AM
Malawi came under British influence through the antislavery
missionary zeal of David Livingstone. Missionaries and traders
followed, and later a British consul was appointed. Under British
Consul Harry Johnston, military attempts to end the slave trade took
place during the late 19th century. However, slave traffic did not
end until 1895 with the capture and execution of the Arab slave
traders at Karonga, Nkhotakota, and Jumbe.
The former Protectorate of Nyasaland became a part of the
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in September 1953, and seceded
in December 1962. It gained full independence on July 6, 1964, under
the name of Malawi and became a Republic on July 6, 1966.
Independent Malawi's first leader, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, was named
President for Life in 1971. He governed the country with a firm and
oppressive hand for almost three decades. In 1992, following heavy
pressure from churches in Malawi and the international community,
Banda announced a referendum allowing the people to vote for
continuation of the single-party regime or a multiparty government.
In June 1993, Malawians voted to change to a multiparty system.
After nearly 30 years of single-party rule, Malawi held its first
multiparty elections on May 17, 1994, for both President and
Parliament. Businessman Bakili Muluzi of the United Democratic Front
was elected and sworn in on May 21. National elections were held
again in June 1999, and Muluzi was reelected by a small margin in an
election declared to be "free and substantially fair." The first
local government elections in Malawi's history were held in November
2000. The next elections will be held on May 18, 2004 and will
decide if UDF will remain in power.
A new constitution was established on May 18, 1995. The executive
branch consists of the President (the President is both chief of
state and head of government), First and Second Vice Presidents, and
the Cabinet. The legislative branch consists of the unicameral
National Assembly, which has 193 directly elected members. The
judicial system comprises Supreme Court of Appeal, a high court, and
magistrate courts patterned after the British system and traditional
courts that deal mainly with civil and customary law. In 1993, the
role of the traditional courts was greatly diminished.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:03 AM
Artistic attractions are principally tribal dancing, arts and
crafts, and small museums in Blantyre and Mzuzu. A French-Canadian
Catholic priest, resident in Malawi for more than 30 years, has an
extensive collection of traditional masks worn by Malawians during
their various tribal dances. He has built a museum near his mission
in southern Malawi to house these artifacts. Diplomatic missions
occasionally sponsor concerts by visiting artists. Disco has become
quite popular among Malawians, and hotels usually have a live band
for dancers. There are also several well-known dance clubs in the
The University of Malawi comprises four constituent colleges:
Chancellor College in Zomba, Bunda College of Agriculture in
Lilongwe, Kamuzu College of Nursing also in Lilongwe and the
Polytechnic College in Blantyre. Mzuzu University in Mzuzu was
established in 1999 and focuses on education and natural resources.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 5/19/2004 9:34 AM
Agriculture forms the mainstay of Malawi's economy, accounting
for nearly half of GDP. Tobacco, tea, and sugar together generate
about 70% of export earnings, with tobacco providing the lion's
share. The agricultural sector employs nearly half of those formally
employed, and directly or indirectly supports an estimated 85% of
the population. Malawi has a narrow economic base with little
industry and mining. Growth in exports to the United States under
the African Growth and Opportunity Act has been a bright spot for
the manufacturing sector, but generally unfavorable macroeconomic
conditions, including interest rates above 35%, have made it
difficult for the private sector to grow and create jobs.
Detailed information on prevailing economic conditions can be
found in the Country Commercial Guide for Malawi, which is available
via the Internet at <http://www.state-usa.gov/>; <http://www.state.gov/>;
Automobiles Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:06 AM
An automobile is essential in Malawi, as public transportation
varies from inadequate to nonexistent. Although cars are sold in
Malawi, it is difficult to find a car of choice on short notice due
to transportation and foreign exchange problems. Local prices for
cars are high; most employees purchasing new vehicles import them
from South Africa or directly from country of manufacture and drive
or have them transported to post.
Vehicles shipped to Malawi are routed via the South African port
of Durban, then driven or trucked to Malawi. Employees may elect to
take delivery of their personally owned vehicle in Durban and drive
it to Malawi via Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This may result in wear
and tear on the vehicle due to poor road conditions. Transit time
from point of origin is usually 2-3 months.
Since Mission employees are constantly arriving and departing
every few years, private sale of vehicles are common. Many of the
principal points in Malawi are connected by all-weather tarmac road,
but other than travel to main cities a four-wheel-drive vehicle or
one with good road clearance is recommended. Some dirt roads are
impassable to all but high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles
during the rainy season. Most Mission staff find a four-wheel-drive
vehicle essential for weekend and holiday travel to game parks and
lodges in Malawi and the region. Automatic or standard transmission
vehicles are acceptable.
Since traffic moves on the left, a right-hand-drive vehicle is
recommended. Six-ply tires and heavy-duty springs and shock
absorbers are desirable; leather or plastic upholstery or
seat-covers are easier to maintain than fabrics due to heavy dust,
but plastic upholstery is less comfortable in hot weather. For
ordinary town and country use, Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, VW,
Mitsubishi, and Mercedes are the most popular makes in use. Spare
parts for American and other makes of cars are impossible to find
and must be ordered from the U.S. with lengthy delivery time.
Diplomatic personnel may buy and/or import a new car duty free at
any time during their tour; non-diplomatic list staff must purchase
or import one with their initial duty-free entry privileges within 6
months of arrival at post. Duty must be paid when a vehicle imported
duty free is sold to an individual who does not have duty-free
purchase privileges. Urban Malawi has, in the past, suffered from
gas shortages, although this has not occurred recently. Shortages
may occur in rural areas where service stations are scarce. All
gasoline sold in Malawi is "ethanol," a blend consisting of 20%
alcohol and 80% regular gasoline. Diesel fuel is available. The
Embassy fills official Embassy vehicles from its own pump and sells
gas to Mission employees at duty-free rates.
Third-party-liability insurance is compulsory and relatively
inexpensive, although it provides minimal coverage. Post strongly
recommends Mission personnel purchase excess third-party insurance,
which is available from most U.S. insurance carriers. Comprehensive
and collision insurance is available at higher than U.S. prices. A
discount on the comprehensive and collision insurance is available
if you can present a "no claim" statement from your insurance
company. All drivers must apply for a Malawian drivers license
immediately upon arrival. U.S. Government personnel presenting a
valid U.S. license and/or most foreign licenses (although not an
international license) are exempt from a local driving test.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:07 AM
Local mini-bus service in the major urban areas is crowded,
sporadic, and unsafe. Bus service is available to major cities,
although it is not recommended due to poor road conditions and poor
vehicle maintenance. Taxi service is limited in the Capital City
section of Lilongwe.
Rental cars are available in both Blantyre and Lilongwe, although
choice of model is limited. Rental rates are comparable to those in
many parts of the U.S., but high mileage charges make rentals for
longer distance driving expensive.
The Mission furnishes free transportation to and from school for
dependent children. Mileage charges must be paid for the use of
vehicles for driving to and from work for employees who have a car
on order or are awaiting their personally owned vehicles for up to
60 days after arrival at post.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:07 AM
The international airport in Malawi is Lilongwe International
Airport located about 16 miles from the Capital City section of
Lilongwe. Blantyre is served by several regional international
flights; flying time from Lilongwe is about 50 minutes. Limited
international flights link Lilongwe with neighboring countries.
Direct European service is currently limited to a Sunday flight to
London (British Airways). Connections to other international
locations can be made in Nairobi and Johannesburg.
A two-lane paved highway connects the major population centers of
Lilongwe, Zomba, and Blantyre. Driving time from Lilongwe to
Blantyre or Zomba is about 4 hours. The road is good but narrow, and
drivers must be cautious as cattle and other farm animals wander
onto the road. Good quality, two-lane roads also connect Lilongwe
with the Zambia border and Mzuzu and Karonga in the north of the
country. Travel from Lilongwe to the closest point on Lake Malawi at
Salima takes about 1 hour; a two-lane asphalt highway was completed
in 1994. Most of the other roads in the country vary in quality from
rough tarmac to dirt and gravel. Some of the lesser-traveled roads
may be impassable in the rainy season.
Travel by road at any time is dangerous, particularly at night
due to speed, drunken driving and poorly maintained vehicles.
Official travel outside of major cities is prohibited after dark.
Malawi is connected by road to South Africa via Mozambique, as well
as through Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lusaka can be reached in one day of
driving over tarmac roads, although care must be taken to avoid
potholes and rough sections of the road. From Lusaka, it is possible
to continue on tarmac road to Victoria Falls, or to South Africa via
Malawi Railways has about 560 miles of track, primarily used for
freight haulage. Some passenger services are offered, but trains are
slow and accommodations are frequently restricted to third class.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:08 AM
Telephone service in Malawi is generally satisfactory. Calls can
usually be completed between urban centers within the country with a
minimum of delay, although occasional outages do occur, particularly
in residential areas. The Malawi Telecommunications Limited Office
is usually responsive to reports of service interruptions.
Many international call destinations may be reached by direct
dial, including the U.S., and service is good. It is more expensive,
however, to call the U.S. from Malawi than vice versa.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:09 AM There are
currently two cellular phone service companies that, like in many
other places, have oversold their network capacity so completing
calls during peak hours is sometimes difficult due to busy circuits.
Internet Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:10 AM
The Embassy has Internet access, however, the connection is slow
in comparison to what one may be used to in the USA. Home Internet
connection is available through a growing number of ISPs for about
$20-$60 a month, plus local phone charges. "Internet cafes" have
been established in Blantyre, Lilongwe, and Mzuzu.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:38 AM
International first-class airmail to and from the U.S. usually
takes 10-14 days. The international address for incoming mail is:
Full Name American Embassy P.O. Box 30016 Lilongwe 3, Malawi
The address for international fast courier service is:
Full Name American Embassy Area 40, Plot No. 24 Kenyatta Road
P.O. Box 30016 Lilongwe 3, Malawi 265-773-166
State Department pouch facilities are more reliable than
international posts and are used by U.S. Government personnel for
the majority of correspondence. Air pouch mail usually takes 12-14
days and is received twice a week, although delays of up to 6-8
weeks occur at times, especially around Christmas. Packages weighing
not more than 50 pounds may be sent to post by Department pouch.
Packages must not exceed 17 x 18 x 32. The address for both
first-class letters and packages is:
For Personal Mail: Full Name, 2280 Lilongwe Place, Dulles, VA
For Official Mail: Full Name, Department of State, 2280 Lilongwe
Place, Washington, DC 20521-2280
Insurance and registration services are not available for items
sent through State Department facilities. Mail for overseas
personnel is considered "delivered" by the postal authorities on
arrival at the Department's mailroom. Therefore, postal registry and
insurance liabilities cease at that point. Should registered or
insured mail be accepted and delivered to the Department by the
postal service, it will be accepted and forwarded to the addressee
as ordinary mail. No liability can be assumed by the Embassy or the
Department in such cases.
The State Department pouch is not available to post personnel for
outbound parcels; personnel with pouch privileges may only send
first-class letter mail, videotapes, or return merchandise from post
through the pouch.
USAID contractors should contact their agency for specific
entitlements and addresses to be used
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:12 AM
Malawi has a government-controlled radio station and one
television station. Several private radio stations offer pop music,
international news and religious programming. The BBC transmits in
Lilongwe, Blantyre and most recently Mzuzu on a 24-hour schedule.
Satellite TV (South African-based DStv) is available and offers a
wide variety of channels: news, weather, sports, movies, cartoons,
etc. Many programs are American or South African.
The purchase and installation cost for satellite TV is $600-$700
and about $50 a month for services. Most employees have videotape
systems equipped for U.S. tapes (NTSC system) or multisystems, which
will play both NTSC and PAL (the international system used in
Malawi). Post has a small tape library in the CLO office; tapes, and
increasingly DVDs, are frequently traded among Mission staff. Tapes
and DVDs are available for rent at local outlets but are generally
of fair quality, limited selection, and are PAL system.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/12/2004 4:13 AM
The Nation and The Daily Times are the two major daily
newspapers, with special weekend editions, and both carry local news
and sports as well as world news. The Chronicle is published weekly
and is considered the opposition paper. There are several other
weekly papers published when funds are available and are usually
linked to one specific party. The press is generally free and fair,
but at times there is pressure from the government or
Although both Lilongwe and Blantyre have some bookshops,
selection is limited, and prices are very high compared to U.S.
standards. A branch of the Malawi National Library Service is
located in Lilongwe; the U.S. Public Affairs Section and the British
Council also operate small libraries. The Embassy CLO office has a
small collection of fiction (mysteries, sci-fi, romance, etc.)
donated from the community. Many people order reading material over
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 5/12/2004 10:29 AM
Medical facilities in Lilongwe are inadequate. There are a few
qualified physicians and specialists practicing in Malawi who may be
consulted if necessary, but hospitals fall far below minimum U.S.
standards. Therefore, anyone with an illness requiring
hospitalization is medically evacuated to South Africa or to the
United States. Local facilities are used only to stabilize U.S.
personnel in an emergency. The Embassy has a Health Unit that is
managed by a locally hired State Registered Nurse/Midwife. The
Health Unit is organized like a Family Practice Office and services
most acute illnesses; stable chronic illnesses; ongoing care for
long-term conditions, such as hypertension, well-child care, and
pregnancy; counseling; immunizations and first aid, including
The Health Unit maintains a limited stock of medications, in
order to treat emergencies and new acute conditions, which are
available at no charge to Embassy personnel. Local pharmacies carry
primarily European or South African drugs, and their supplies are
unreliable. Therefore, employees must bring an adequate supply of
specifically needed drugs to post. Try to make arrangements through
a U.S. physician or pharmacist for replenishing prescriptions. There
are now many businesses on the Internet catering to mail-order
prescriptions that can be sent through the pouch. Infant and baby
products should be included in household effects (HHE) or
The Seventh-day Adventist clinic in Lilongwe is currently staffed
by a general practitioner and a dentist. Since March there is an
experienced Optometrist in town. Their services are good, but
supplies are limited, so bring an extra pair of prescription glasses
or contact lenses and lens care products.
Community Health Last Updated: 5/12/2004 10:28 AM
Sanitation in Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba, and Blantyre is generally
good. Food handling in the international hotels and large
restaurants appears to be satisfactory. However, foods obtained from
the local open markets and supermarkets require special attention to
ensure that all edible items are safe for consumption.
Water from the Lilongwe water system is treated, but it is
recommended that all water used for consumption be filtered and then
boiled for 5 minutes. All Mission houses are provided with water
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 5/12/2004 10:27 AM
Malaria is endemic to Malawi, and prophylaxis is strongly
advised. The Department of State recommends Mefloquine as the first
choice for malaria prophylaxis for those persons able to tolerate
it. The second choice of prophylaxis is daily Doxycycline (not for
children under 12 years). For those persons who cannot take either
one of these 2 drugs there is a third option of daily Malarone.
Because no anti-malarial drug prophylaxis can offer total
protection, other measures to protect against mosquito bites and the
acquisition of malaria are advised. Some of those measures include:
remaining in well-screened areas, especially in the evening and at
night, use of mosquito nets enclosing the bed while sleeping, and
use of insect repellants containing at least 35% DEET.
Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) contaminates most freshwater lakes
and rivers in Malawi and is contracted by swimming or wading.
Diarrhea is a common symptom, but most cases are noninfectious,
self-limiting, and arise from changes in food or water combined with
fatigue and the emotional stresses of travel. Cholera rarely occurs
in Malawi, except in areas of severe overcrowding and poor
sanitation. Typhoid is endemic to Malawi, but epidemics rarely
occur. Hepatitis A is also endemic to Malawi and occurs all too
frequently in the expatriate community. Although boiling and
filtering of water and cleansing of fruit and vegetables decrease
the risk of Hepatitis A, the most effective method of prevention is
a vaccination series of Havrix 1440 given twice within 6-12 months.
Insect pests include flies, mosquitoes, ticks (including a "tick
bite fever" carrier), termites, moths, cockroaches, ants, and
silverfish. Throughout Malawi putze flies lay their eggs in
textiles, which can transfer to the skin of the wearer. To avoid
skin sores, use a dryer or iron all line-dried linen and clothing.
The following immunizations are recommended for Malawi:
Yellow Fever - every 10 years Typhoid - every 3 years
Tetanus-Diphtheria - every 10 years Polio - one booster as an adult
TB testing - every year Rabies - optional, advised for small
children, series of 3 Hepatitis B - initial series of 3 Hepatitis A
– initial series of 2 Meningitis A+C - every 3 years
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 5/12/2004
Employment opportunities for dependents of diplomatic personnel
assigned to Malawi are extremely limited. The Government of Malawi
has a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. on employment of diplomatic
dependents but considers requests on a case-by-case basis. Although
such employment is not prohibited, administrative restrictions
pertain to issuance of work permits for certain types of jobs that
might involve the displacement or exclusion of a qualified Malawian.
Outside dependent employment involves suspension of certain
diplomatic privileges and immunities; e.g., paying local taxes. The
approval and clearance process for a work permit begins with the
Office of Protocol of the Ministry of External Affairs. The Ministry
will process employment proposals, including submission of the
proposal to the Ministry of Labor for approval. Clearance procedures
can take several months.
The Embassy has a few American Family Member/PIT positions
available to dependents: Community Liaison Office Coordinator,
Self-Help Administrator, DCM Secretary, RSO Secretary, Warehouse
Supervisor, Procurement Assistant, and some USAID project-related
jobs. Lilongwe also has a Consular Associate position. A few
dependents with teaching qualifications have successfully sought
employment with Bishop Mackenzie International School or nursery
Dependents who wish to seek employment should write to the
Embassy administrative officer as far in advance of arrival as
possible regarding job interest and qualification.
Those family members who choose to see employement outside the
Mission, either because of special skills, career interests, or when
positions in the Mission are already filled, should be familiar with
U.S. government regulations concerning outside employment. These
regulations apply to all American dependents and employees assigned
to Post, regardless of agency. The regulations are contained in 22
CFR, Chapter 1, Part 10, and copies may be obtained from the Human
The outside employment and home-based business form must be
completed and submitted to the Post Management Counselor.
American Embassy - Lilongwe
Post City Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:22 AM
The Embassy, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Agency for
International Development, Centers for Disease Control, and Peace
Corps are all located in Lilongwe, which became the capital on
January 1, 1975. The original town of Lilongwe was a modest trading
center with a population of 22,000 in 1970. Planning for the new
capital began in the late 1960s in response to a longstanding wish
of former President Banda to move the capital to a more central
area, shifting northward the development pattern, which had
historically heavily favored the southern Blantyre-Zomba region. The
relocation also placed the capital in the home area of the
predominant Chewa tribe. The President still resides in Blantyre by
choice, but maintains official residences in Lilongwe and Zomba
where he stays during visits.
The new capital site is located about 5 miles from Lilongwe's
"Old Town" and was literally carved out of the bush. The population
currently exceeds 400,000. Lilongwe has an expatriate colony, mostly
of U.K. origin, of about 2,000. Many work for the Government of
Malawi; others are connected with diplomatic missions, the tobacco
industry, the construction business, or are missionaries.
The American community in Lilongwe numbers about 250, which
include Embassy personnel, Peace Corps Volunteers, missionaries, a
few professors, U.N. personnel, and consultants.
Security Last Updated: 5/12/2004 5:03 AM
TIPS TO HELP YOU AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF CRIMES COMMONLY
PERPETRATED IN MALAWI
Carjacking – Carjackers in Malawi prefer to go after their target
when the vehicle is stopped, but the engine is running (e.g. in
residential driveways or at intersections). The following
information may be of help in avoiding such situations, or in
knowing how to respond if you find yourself the target of
carjackers: · Always try to be aware of your surroundings,
especially when pulling up to a residential compound gate or
stopping at an intersection. · Keep your car doors locked, and try
to keep your windows at least partially rolled up. · Watch for
would-be thieves lurking near your driveway (either on foot or in
vehicles.) · Be alert for vehicles that may be following you. One
popular method-of-operation used by carjackers is to wait for the
target to pull up to an entry gate, then block the target in from
behind with their (the perpetrators) vehicle. · Drive away from
suspicious situations. · If you are unable to avoid a suspicious
situation and you find yourself confronted by would-be carjackers,
it has usually been best to comply fully with their demands; they
are always well armed and will almost always fire into the vehicle
if there is any resistance.
Residential Burglaries – If staying in a single family home or
cottage, you could be targeted for a burglary or home invasion. The
following procedures should be adhered to as much as possible: ·
Keep perimeter gates closed and secured. · Use exterior lighting
throughout the night. · Keep all doors and windows locked when not
using them. · A residential alarm system is advisable, in
conjunction with a local guard company react/response team. ·
Establishing and using a residential safehaven/secure room is also
advisable. · Residential guard(s) are also recommended as a
deterrent to crime.
CRIME AND SAFETY SITUATION Malawi is often referred to as the
“warm heart of Africa.” Most of the people here typify that phrase,
but don’t be deceived - there is a criminal element hiding behind
the scenes here as well.
Visitors – “Common sense security” will serve most visitors well,
whether their trip is for business or pleasure. Pickpockets and
purse-snatchers often lurk near bus stations, market places and
restaurants. The airports have reported fewer problems, but
awareness is still always a virtue in crowded places. Residing in
better-known hotels and/or guesthouses is advisable and usually
trouble free, though room burglaries are not unheard of. Walking
alone at night should be avoided. Driving at night outside the main
cities is highly discouraged, due to hazardous driving conditions
and a lack of medical response capability.
Residents – In addition to the problem areas described above,
residents must be also mindful of carjackings, residential
burglaries and home invasions. Criminals engaging in these crimes
are usually well armed and intolerant of resistance. These criminal
activities are common in urban areas as well as outlying
settlements. Alertness while driving and good residential security
practices can certainly help deter these types of crimes, but if
faced with an armed assailant, compliance has usually been the best
course of action to avoid personal injury.
POLITICAL VIOLENCE Malawi has enjoyed political stability since
the democratic elections of May 1994. War or widespread civil unrest
in Malawi in the near future is unlikely, and would most likely only
occur as the result of some larger regional conflict. Public
protests, demonstrations, and strikes in the past year had some
impact on residents and visitors, but these actions were usually not
directed at American citizens. National elections are currently
scheduled to occur in May 2004, and public protests and
demonstrations are likely to increase in frequency in the weeks
leading up to the elections.
Americans in Malawi are subject to the worldwide terrorist
advisories and security alerts published by the Department of State.
There is no information available on any specific terrorist threats
to Americans in Malawi at this time.
POST-SPECIFIC CONCERNS One of the greatest threats to personal
safety in Malawi is road travel after dark. Non-existent highway
lighting combined with numerous road hazards (e.g. pedestrians,
bicyclists, ox-carts, slow moving vehicles without lights, broken
down vehicles etc.) adds-up to danger! If a road accident occurs
away from an urban area, there is little chance of a timely response
by emergency medical personnel. Vehicle travel at night should be
strictly limited to major urban areas only - plan all in-country
travel so as to arrive at your destination before dark.
POLICE RESPONSE The police in Malawi are generally well intended,
but their ability to deter crimes, assist victims and apprehend
criminals is extremely limited. The police lack equipment
(especially transportation), are poorly funded, and therefore do not
receive sufficient training - all of which work against the best of
Americans traveling to Malawi should register with the Consular
Section of the American Embassy in Lilongwe. Should you become the
victim (or suspect) of a crime you should:
1) contact the local police and the American Embassy, or 2)
advise the police you are an American citizen and ask them to
contact the Embassy for you.
The police emergency phone number throughout Malawi is 199, but
that number is not a reliable means of obtaining police assistance.
The 24-hour phone number for the national police headquarters,
located in Lilongwe, is 01-796-333.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:23 AM
The Embassy occupies a building completed in April 1976, in the
Capital City area, 5 miles from old town Lilongwe. PAS, USAID, and
Peace Corps are in separate buildings, located a short distance from
the Embassy. Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to
noon and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and Friday, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Peace
Corps' office remains open on Friday afternoon.
The official American community is small. Embassy direct-hire
personnel include the Ambassador, DCM, Political/Consular Officer,
Economic/Commercial Officer, Management Officer, General Services
Officer, Budget and Fiscal Officer, Regional Security Officer,
Facilities Maintenance Manager, Public Affairs Officer, two
Information Management Officers, one full-time Office Management
Specialist, and administrative support employees.
A Director and eight other officers are assigned to USAID. A
Peace Corps Director and two Associate Directors are also assigned
to Lilongwe. The Centers for Disease Control, with a direct-hire
staff of four has offices in both Lilongwe and Blantyre.
Newcomers are met at the airport and every effort is made to
assist them in getting settled quickly and comfortably. Lilongwe is
a 20% differential post. Assignments for State Department personnel
are generally for 3 years with two R&Rs. Paris is the designated
overseas R&R point.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:25 AM
If permanent or temporary housing is not ready on arrival,
personnel are accommodated at the DCM's guesthouse, Le Meridien
Capital Hotel near the Embassy, or at one of several Bed & Breakfast
lodging facilities in the Capital City area. Le Meridien Capital
Hotel is modern with air-conditioned rooms, a good restaurant,
squash courts, and a swimming pool.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:25 AM
U.S. Government agencies in Malawi provide modern and comfortable
Government-owned or -rented furnished houses for all personnel. Most
homes have three bedrooms, two baths, and a fireplace in the living
room. Grounds are large, so most employees have at least one or two
full-time gardeners. Most homes have servants' quarters on the
grounds for the gardener and/or cook/housekeeper. All houses are
located in the three nearby residential areas, (numbered 10, 12, and
43) in the Capital City section.
The Ambassador's residence, completed in 1976, is located on a
large plot of land with a swimming pool and a tennis court. The
one-story house is modern in design and includes a large living
room, separate dining room, study, and fully enclosed lounge
equipped with a wet bar. An outdoor patio (or khonde) opens off the
enclosed lounge area. Four bedrooms are located in a wing separated
from the rest of the house by a short hallway, and a guest bedroom
and bath are located directly off the entryway.
The DCM's home is a three-bedroom house with a living room,
separate dining room, and study. An outdoor covered patio is located
off the living room/study area; a small screened-in porch is
adjacent to the dining room. The large grounds of the residence
include a two-bedroom guesthouse with bath and kitchen and a
Furnishings Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:26 AM
All quarters have basic furniture, including living and dining
room sets, carpets, draperies, and lamps. Most master bedrooms are
furnished with a queen-sized bed. Air-conditioners and ceiling fans
are provided for occupied bedrooms and living rooms. Kitchens are
equipped with electric stoves, microwave ovens, refrigerators, and
freezers. Washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, water distillers,
outdoor garbage cans, fire extinguishers, and portable space heaters
are also provided. Three (3) power transformers/regulators are
provided to each household.
Employees must supply their own china or dishes, flatware,
glassware, kitchen utensils, table linens, bedding, towels, shower
curtains and hooks, iron and ironing board, small kitchen
appliances, scatter rugs, trash cans, and cleaning implements such
as brooms, mops, buckets, sponges, etc. Bring knickknacks, pictures,
vases, books, short-wave radios, stereos, TVs, VCRs, and other
necessities that will give your home a personal touch.
Hospitality Kits, consisting of alarm clock, bedding, towels,
cleaning items, pots and pans, dishes, cutlery, small tools, iron,
ironing board, coffee maker, tea kettle, television, and VCR are
available for new arrivals on a loan basis until their HHE arrive.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:26 AM
All houses are equipped with standard plumbing, although sinks
frequently have separate taps for hot and cold water. All houses
have hot water heaters; some are the low-pressure gravity type,
which causes less water pressure than in the U.S. Electricity is
220/230v, 50Hz, AC and houses have been wired with three phases.
American 110v appliances and equipment require transformers. The
Embassy will generally provide two transformers per home for
personal use; any more required should be purchased and brought to
post by employees. All outlets are of the three-prong square type
used in the U.K. and adaptor plugs are available locally. Frequent
voltage fluctuation occurs. Employees bringing personal computers
and other delicate electronic equipment should also bring a power
supply stabilizer and voltage regulator.
Clocks that are set for use of 60Hz electricity will run fast on
50Hz electricity. Power frequency cannot be economically regulated
or transformed with present embassy equipment. The difference in
power frequency should not harm your equipment but you can check
your operating manual before connecting it to the local power
Lilongwe and other parts of the country experience frequent
electrical outages, usually without warning. All Embassy houses are
fitted with generators large enough to keep lights and appliances
running during power outages.
Many employees bring videocassette and TV equipment with them.
Rental videotapes are usually in VHS format and compatible with the
PAL system. Most employees have NTSC/VHS videocassettes and borrow
tapes from each other or from the CLO library. Check all equipment
before leaving the U.S. to ensure that it will operate
satisfactorily directly or through transformers on 220v, 50Hz
Irons, toasters, and other small appliances are available locally
but are very expensive. Bring such appliances to post. Also bring an
adequate supply of batteries; those available on the local economy
are expensive and of poor quality.
Garden Equipment: Most residential properties exceed one acre in
size and require significant amounts of time to maintain. Full-time
gardeners are easily found and their salaries, which are
inexpensive, can be partially reimbursed by the Embassy. The
following gardening equipment/tools are provided: lawnmowers, hoes,
water hoses, rakes, shears, shovels, spades, and watering
Full-time gardeners are easily found and their salaries, which
are inexpensive, can be partially reimbursed by the Embassy. The
following gardening equipment/tools are provided: lawnmowers, hoes,
water hoses, rakes, shears, shovels, spades, and watering cans.
Food Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:27 AM
Locally grown vegetables and fruits are plentiful and
inexpensive, but availability varies seasonally. Most people augment
their supply with vegetable gardens. A good selection of vegetable
and flower seeds is available locally, although many people prefer
to bring seeds from the U.S. Canning and freezing supplies are not
Food prices in general have increased steadily in the last few
years. The cost of fresh meat, including beef, chicken, pork and
lamb or mutton, is generally lower than in the U.S. for comparable
cuts, but periodic shortages occur and the quality of the meat is
usually slightly lower. Canned or imported meat is much more
expensive. Good-quality fish from Lake Malawi, including a delicious
type of tilapia called chambo, is available most of the year at
Staples such as flour, sugar, salt, and oil are available locally
but are inferior in quality. Canned goods, like other processed
foods, are much more expensive than in the U.S. Most are imported
from the U.K. or South Africa. Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies,
and paper products such as tissues, paper towels, napkins, and
toilet paper are of poor quality and priced very high. Baby products
and convenience foods (cake mixes, prepared foods, etc.) are limited
in availability and selection.
The local bakeries sell a variety of white and wheat breads.
Pasteurized fresh as well as UHT milk is available and safe to
drink. Eggs, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, mild cheddar cheese,
and other dairy products are available, but periodic shortages
occur. Employees stock up on standard items to tide them through the
frequent shortage periods.
Supermarkets and numerous branch "superettes" or PTCs (Peoples'
Trading Centers) carry a selection of canned and bottled goods,
dairy products, meats, some fresh fruits, and vegetables. The
Lilongwe open market sells all seasonal fruits and vegetables, as
well as rice, flour, salt, peanuts or groundnuts, fish, meats, and
other miscellaneous goods. Several new stores have recently opened
which cater to the expatriate community by bringing in a variety of
good quality cheese, frozen meat and seafood, and canned and snack
foods from Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Because of this competitive atmosphere, there are more products
available every day and the shopping options in Lilongwe are
improving quite dramatically. Those assigned to Lilongwe are
authorized a consumables allowance, and many employees place a
partial consumables order before arriving at post. The remainder of
the consumables allowance may be shipped once the employee has
arrived at post and determined what his/her needs may be. Many
employees also order food, alcohol, wine and household items from
suppliers in South Africa or elsewhere.
Clothing Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:28 AM
Clothing is expensive, often of poor quality, and very limited in
selection. Inexpensive secondhand clothing (jeans, shirts, etc.) is
available in local markets, but finding anything specific is
difficult because clothing is displayed in large heaps. Bring
sufficient clothing for all family members or order it from the U.S.
Simple, practical clothing is best suited to Lilongwe life. Washable
fabrics are suitable for all but the most formal occasions. Summer
clothing is worn from September to April. Most winter days (from May
to August) are cool with evening temperatures dipping to 40°F.
Because houses and offices become chilly during this period, bring
plenty of sweaters, sweatshirts, and light jackets. A lightweight
raincoat or umbrella is essential during the rainy season.
Dry-cleaning facilities are available, usually with fair results.
Some dry-cleaners refuse to clean some items, such as silk dresses,
and do not give guarantees on larger items such as bedspreads. Some
people take their dry-cleaning with them on trips to more developed
countries or bring home based dry-cleaning products. The choice of
shoes is also very limited, but ladies' sandals and children's shoes
are usually available. Most employees bring an adequate supply of
shoes with them or arrange orders from the U.S.
Although some fabrics and sewing notions are available, bring
fabric, linings, patterns, and other sewing needs if you plan to
sew. Lilongwe has a few dressmakers and tailors, but the quality of
their work varies.
Men Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:29 AM
Embassy officers usually wear coats and ties in the office and
for most social occasions. Due to varied quality of local
dry-cleaning facilities, wash-and-wear suits are more practical, but
other lightweight suits are also worn. Dress is conservative in
Malawi; coats and ties are the rule in government offices, most
business meetings, and some restaurants for dinner. Some businessmen
wear safari-type suits, but they are not generally regarded as
adequate alternatives to coats and ties, as is the case at some
other African posts.
Some occasions call for formal evening dress, but few staff
members will have a need for dark or white dinner jackets. Tuxedo
rental is not available or needed in Lilongwe.
Women Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:29 AM
Women will find cotton dresses and skirts suitable for most
occasions, including work. Synthetics can be worn comfortably on all
but a few of the hottest days. Sweaters and woolen dresses or suits
are useful for the cooler months. Women may find lightweight coats
or warm shawls necessary for some evenings. Very few occasions call
for long dresses and elaborate hostess gowns are not needed. Cotton
lingerie is more comfortable in the hot season than nylon.
Up until 1993, women were prohibited from wearing slacks and
shorts, and men were prohibited from having long hair. Although
official dress codes were repealed with the advent of multiparty
democracy, women who do not dress modestly, especially in the
markets and rural areas, are subject to harassment.
General standards of decency in Malawi are now similar to those
we are accustomed to in the U.S.
Children Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:31 AM
Children need both warm and cool weather clothing for the varying
temperatures throughout the year. Bring a good supply of shorts,
pants, short- and long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, light jackets,
sturdy shoes, socks, hats, summer and winter pajamas, slippers,
raincoats, rain boots and umbrellas.
Bishop Mackenzie International School requires a very specific
uniform that can be purchased and/or made locally at a reasonable
cost. However, you should bring with you the required black or brown
leather-type shoes that all students must wear, plus sports shoes
and swim wear for physical education. Contact post for more specific
information on the school uniform requirements.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:38 AM
European and South African cosmetics and pharmaceuticals are
usually available; however, selection is limited, and prices are
high. Bring personal items, including favorite brands, with you.
Many common nonprescription drugs and medicines are available
(aspirin, vitamins), but again, high prices, shortages, and limited
selection are constraining factors. Plan to have special
prescriptions filled from the U.S.
Locally made cigarettes are inexpensive, but Mission personnel
who smoke prefer to have their favorite brands sent from the U.S. or
from South Africa. Pipe tobacco and cigars are expensive, and
selection is limited. Locally produced beer and gin are good and
reasonably priced; most other liquors are expensive. Electronic
equipment, including radios and stereos, are very expensive with
Toys, games, and sports equipment are relatively scarce, of poor
quality, and/or expensive. Film is available locally, but is often
expired or exposed to high temperatures and expensive. It is best to
bring camera equipment and supplies with you to post. There are at
least two reliable local film-processing shops—prices are about the
same as U.S. prices—and a good quality framing shop.
Plan to bring gift wrap and ribbon, party favors, gifts for
children's parties, games, playing cards, outdoor paper plates,
plastic cups and holiday decorations. Those who play sports should
bring all sports gear to post, including tennis or squash racquets
and balls, golf clubs and balls, softball equipment, fishing gear,
camping equipment, picnic equipment, ice chest, barbecue grill, etc.
Commercial pet foods and other pet care items are generally
expensive and sometimes hard to find. Many people either cook
locally available foods, including scrap meat and dried fish for
their dogs, or bring an ample supply from America. Cat food and
clumping-type cat litter are either not available or difficult to
find. There is currently an excellent expatriate veterinarian in
Lilongwe, but good veterinarian care deteriorates when she is out of
Many gardening supplies are available in Lilongwe, and nurseries
sell seeds and plants at reasonable prices. Some imported goods
(fertilizers, plastic pots, etc.) may be expensive.
Basic Services Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:38 AM
Most basic services are available, although quality of work
varies. Several beauty shops offer haircuts for both men and women.
Repairs for appliances are limited, with long lead times and
expenses involved in obtaining spare parts. Auto servicing is
adequate but not up to U.S. standards. Computer diagnostics are
generally not available.
There are a few body shops in town, which service most vehicles.
Since parts for U.S.-made automobiles are not available, bring spare
parts, including oil, filters, brake fluid, etc., with you. Shoe
repair is not good, but reasonable tailors can be found for
alterations and dressmaking.
Dry-cleaners are available, but quality can vary. We recommend
that you bring do-it-your-self dry cleaning kits for your dryer such
as "Dryell." Electronic equipment is frequently taken out of the
country for servicing. Bring operating manuals, schematics and
specialized parts with you.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:39 AM
Most households hire two or more employees in the capacity of
cook, housekeeper, gardener, or nanny. Except for nannies, most of
which are women, men do most household jobs. Usually help can be
found with the general qualifications and experience desired and
reasonable English-language ability.
Currently, salaries generally range from $40 to $80 a month,
depending on the experience and skill level of the job. Post
periodically conducts a domestic employee compensation survey among
Mission personnel. For more detailed information on salaries contact
the Embassy Administrative Officer. Specific conditions of work are
negotiated between the employee and employer, but it is common for
the employer to pay required Malawi taxes on behalf of the employee,
some sort of food allowance, and provide a uniform or uniform
allowance. Most government provided housing includes workers'
Religious Activities Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:35 AM
The Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and
Roman Catholic churches conduct English-language services in
Other denominations, including the Church of Christ, Church of
the Nazarene, Seventh-day Adventist, and Southern Baptist are
represented. Islamic and Hindu places of worship are also available
Education Last Updated: 5/14/2004 3:54 AM
The United Democratic Front (UDF) government instituted free
universal education in 1994, but lack of resources, a dearth of
trained teachers, few materials and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have
conspired to make the quality of education very low. Teacher/student
ratios are often 1:100 and teacher absenteeism actually makes this
figure higher. Primary school teachers themselves have only finished
secondary school and salaries are below the poverty line. The
government makes an effort to fund education, but the needs far
outweigh the resources available. Most Malawians do not attend
secondary school – school fees and the primary school exam results
exclude most students.
There are two functioning universities in the country, the
University of Malawi and Mzuzu University. The University of Malawi
includes four constituent colleges: Chancellor College in Zomba, the
Polytechnic in Blantyre, Bunda College of Agriculture outside
Lilongwe and the Kamuzu College of Nursing, with branches in
Lilongwe and Blantyre. Mzuzu University was opened in Mzuzu in 1999
and specializes in education and natural resources. Entry
requirements for both universities are stringent and fees are
prohibitive for the average Malawian. Both universities are,
however, credible centers of tertiary education with dedicated
students and faculty.
At Post Last Updated: 5/9/2005 4:16 PM Bishop Mackenzie
In Lilongwe, most children of Mission families attend the Bishop
Mackenzie International School (BMIS). BMIS is a local school
accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges,
and the Council of International Schools, formerly the European
Council of International Schools. BMIS offers coeducational
instruction for Reception (age 4) through grade 12, as well as an
International Baccalaureate. (Note: the Department has authorized
payment of school fees for children age 4 enrolled in Reception).
The curriculum is designed according to the British system, and the
teaching staff is predominantly British.
The school year consists of three terms extending from late
August to mid-December, mid-January to early April, and May to early
July. Enrollment at BMIS is about 600 students, including about 30
Americans. There are 40 classrooms on 25 acres of land that also
includes three sports fields, two tennis courts, a playground, a
swimming pool, and a large school hall.
Uniforms are required and can be purchased locally at reasonable
cost. Contact the Embassy for more information concerning school
registration and a list of specific uniform requirements, including
which parts of the uniform can best be purchased in the U.S.
ABC Christian Academy:
The ABC Christian Academy is a coeducational, international,
Christian day school which serves the international community of
Lilongwe. Founded in 1998 with grades Kindergarten through 4th
grade, ABC Christian Academy currently serves children from 24
different countries in grades K-4 through 8th grade. During the
2005-2006 school year 9th grade will be added with plans to add
10th, 11th, and 12th in successive years. ABC Christian Academy is
an outreach of African Bible College and is under the governance of
African Bible Colleges, Inc. The cirriculum comes from the U.S. and
most of it is Christian based. Most teachers come from the U.S.
The school year is comprised of four quarters (2 semesters)
beginning around September 1 and ending in mid-June. There is a
three week Christmas break and a week and a half at Easter.
Enrollment at ABCCA is 192 for the 2004-2005 school year. The
Academy is located on the 50 acre African Bible College campus.
ABCCA occupies about 10 acres with room to expand. Current
facilities include an administration building, a library, a computer
lab, a sports field, and 10 classrooms. There are plans for a
swimming pool, auditorium, science lab and cafeteria.
Private kindergartens are also available for 2-5 year-olds in
Lilongwe. There are waiting lists, however, and it is best to
contact post in advance to secure a place for your preschooler.
Away From Post Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:40 AM Some parents send
their secondary school-age children to a boarding school in the U.S.
or Europe. American secondary schools are available in Johannesburg
and Nairobi, and there are several international schools located in
other parts of southern Africa.
Home schooling is another option that some families choose. Check
with your employing agency regarding the conditions and allowances
for the education and travel of secondary schoolchildren.
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 5/12/2004 5:16 AM
Special Needs Education (SNE) is evaluated on a case by case
basis and given specific attention.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/12/2004 6:08 AM
Higher education is generally not available. Chancellor College
in Zomba, four hours from Lilongwe, a constituent college of the
University of Malawi, offers courses in languages, anthropology,
literature, and history.
For those interested, the French Cultural Center in Blantyre (4
hour drive from Lilongwe) offers French-language courses.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:43 AM
Malawi's good weather and facilities combine to make a wide
variety of sports available in Lilongwe. The Lilongwe Golf Club
offers an 18-hole golf course, squash, swimming, tennis, and other
sports facilities. The Capital Hotel also has swimming and squash
A tennis court is available at the Ambassador's residence, which
is usually open for all staff personnel to use. Mission employees
may also become associate members of the British High Commission
Tamarind Club and utilize its facilities (pool, bar and snack bar,
and tennis court). Volleyball, basketball, and softball games are
organized weekly on an informal basis at various locations in
There is plenty opportunity to go bicycling on both touring and
mountain bikes but bring very visible clothing and safety equipment
for riding on local roadways. The Hash House Harriers running group
can be seen each week running/walking throughout the neighborhoods
of Lilongwe and are always seeking new members. The Embassy has a
yoga group that meets every Monday. Horseback riding is also
available for those interested.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:43 AM
A variety of water sports, including diving, sailing, boating,
and fishing are possible on Lake Malawi, though the Embassy strongly
recommends against swimming due to the high risk of contracting the
Bilharzia that exists in all sections of the lake. The Livingstonia
Beach Hotel, near Salima, a 1-hour drive from Lilongwe, offers a
swimming pool, plus a private beach area for hotel residents with
free use of its facilities and maritime equipment, including
sailboats, paddleboats, kayaks, wind surfboards, and scuba and
snorkeling equipment. Day visitors can use these facilities for a
fee. Farther south on the lake, about 3-1/2 hours from Lilongwe, are
Cape Maclear and Monkey Bay, with several beachfront hotels nearby.
The Lake Malawi National Park, a maritime park, is located at
Cape Maclear. The beautiful, crystal-clear water supports over 400
different species of freshwater tropical fish. In addition to a wide
variety of maritime recreations, there are also nature trails for
hiking in an area where bird life is prolific.
Malawi Lake Services in Monkey Bay operates a lake steamer, the
Ilala, which features limited cabin accommodations. Trips on the
Ilala can be made for up to 7 days. In addition, the boat can load
up to 4-5 cars on board, although reservations must be made far in
Malawi has several game parks and reserves offering beautiful
landscapes and good game viewing. Kasungu National Park is about a
3-hour drive from Lilongwe on good roads, although roads inside the
park are unpaved. You will see a wide variety of game, and
accommodations, inclusive of meals, are comfortable. Liwonde
National Park (Upper Shire) and Lengwe Park (Lower Shire) in the
southern region offer game viewing and very modest accommodations.
Nyika Park is located in the northern region on a high plateau
and offers spectacular scenery and many different types of game. It
is, however, the most remote of the parks and is difficult to reach;
accommodations are pleasant and are moderately-to-expensively
priced. The country has other game reserves, but these do not offer
facilities for overnight accommodations. Superb game viewing is
possible at South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, a 4-6-hour drive
Tiger fishing is possible on the Lower Shire River, and hunting
is popular in the Central Region, where good opportunities for
guinea fowl, francolin, and duck shooting are found.
The town of Zomba is about 4 hours south of Lilongwe, and Zomba
Plateau is a popular area for outings. It offers a mountain
atmosphere with evergreen forests and is considered an excellent
spot for hiking. In addition, within the area are several spots for
trout fly-fishing. The Embassy maintains a guesthouse on Zomba
Plateau that can be used by Mission personnel, their families, and
guests for a modest fee. The cottage is a three bedroom "en suite"
(two queen, one twin bed) facility, and is operated on a
self-catering basis. Also nearby is the Ku Chawe Inn, offering a
beautiful view from the edge of the plateau.
A trip to Blantyre, which is 191 miles from Lilongwe and a 4-hour
drive, offers a welcome change. Blantyre is the country's main
commercial and industrial center with an urban population of some
400,000. Set in the hilly country of the Shire Highlands, Blantyre
hosts a broader selection of good restaurants and shops than can be
found in Lilongwe.
It is possible to travel by road to Zambia, Mozambique and on to
Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, although current visa and
transit policy should be checked in advance. Lusaka is a 1-day drive
from Lilongwe, and Harare or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe can be
reached in another day. These roads are paved but are generally in
fair-to-poor condition, with potholes and/or deteriorated surfaces
in some sections. Malawi is also linked by air to neighboring
countries and South Africa, and excursion fares and package holidays
are sometimes available at a reduced price.
Entertainment Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:44 AM
The Lilongwe Golf Club, the Tamarind Club run by the British High
Commission, and to some extent Le Meridien Capital Hotel, serve as
social centers. Lilongwe service clubs, such as Lions, Rotary, Round
Table, and several women's associations frequently sponsor special
events, including casino nights, dinners, and dinner dances.
Local amateur theater groups present productions throughout the
year. Many other clubs, such as a music society, garden club, and
wildlife society, are also active. Currently, no cinemas operate in
Among Americans Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:44 AM Most entertaining
and social relationships among Americans consist of small informal
lunches or dinners and cocktail parties.
Given the relative lack of variety of social centers in town, a
great deal of home entertaining takes place, ranging from the
occasional formal receptions to very casual barbecue-type lunches.
International Contacts Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:45 AM Good
opportunities exist to develop contacts with both the resident
expatriate community and Malawians, again primarily through home
In addition, service clubs and other associations provide
settings for international contacts. The resident diplomatic
community is small, but a good deal of contact and entertaining
exist within it.
Business and government groups are more differentiated, but it is
also possible to develop good contacts on a social level, as well as
a professional level with these groups.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:45 AM
Official functions are fairly frequent for senior Mission staff,
but less so for other staff members. The Ambassador and/or DCM are
often called on to attend official functions in Blantyre and Zomba
in addition to Lilongwe.
Official social events are usually informal, with normal attire
being a dark suit for men and cocktail dress for women. Daytime
events usually require a business suit and suitable women's dress.
Black tie events are rare.
Members of the diplomatic community, as well as other community
leaders, give frequent dinners and receptions.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:46 AM
Depending on the job, it may be useful to call on officials of
the Malawi Government after arrival as well as counterparts in other
embassies and private businesspersons.
Printed business calling cards in quantities of 100 to 200 are
useful. Although cards may be printed locally, frequently the
quality of the work is not very satisfactory. It is a good idea to
have cards printed in the U.S.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:47 AM
All international flights to and from Malawi operate from
Lilongwe International and Blantyre's Chileka Airports. Weekly
flights are available from London to Lilongwe only, as are a variety
of regional air links with Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South
Africa, Zambia, and Kenya. The most frequent are from Johannesburg
and Nairobi. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Malawi.
However, there are several flights a week from New York or Atlanta
Flights on American carriers from the U.S. with transfers in
Europe and South America to foreign flag carriers that serve Malawi
and southern Africa comply with the Fly America regulations. Anyone
arriving on an international flight and re-embarking on a domestic
flight at Blantyre's Chileka Airport for transit to Lilongwe should
plan on paying a 200 kwacha domestic transit fee for each passenger.
The fee must be paid in Malawi Kwacha. Foreign currency exchange
services are available at the airport.
VIP lounge facilities can only be utilized by Ambassador rank
diplomats and must be requested by post in advance. It is advisable
to dress smartly when utilizing these facilities. Other newly
assigned staff members are met at the airport following entry
through immigration and customs.
HHE shipments from the U.S. are routed via ELSO/Antwerp for
onward forwarding to post by air. The latest specific consignment
instructions are sent out in the Welcome Cable from post and should
be followed to the letter.
Other shipments, including all privately owned vehicles, are sent
by surface freight to Durban, South Africa, for onward forwarding by
truck to Malawi. Privately owned vehicles sent via Durban will be
containerized for shipment. It is possible to take possession of
your vehicle in Durban and drive it to Lilongwe, although the trip
is long (over 2,000 miles), and some roads are in poor condition. If
a car is to be claimed in Durban, the post should be notified in
advance to ensure that appropriate paperwork is processed and delays
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:47 AM
Embassy personnel on the diplomatic list and USAID direct hire or
PSCs have duty-free privileges for their full tour. Other official
personnel not on the diplomatic list have duty-free privileges for
an initial period of 6 months following their arrival at post. USAID
contract personnel usually have a similar 6-month duty-free
privilege period, although arrangements may vary depending on the
provisions of the specific project agreement documents.
Duty waivers can be arranged for vehicles or other items of
significant cost purchased locally. These waivers can be obtained
during the initial 6-month duty-free period for most official
personnel and during the full tour at post for diplomatic list
Passage Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:48 AM
Persons entering Malawi must have a valid passport or travel
document. Malawi visas are not required for U.S. citizens prior to
arrival in Malawi. Those wishing to stay over 90 days must apply for
a temporary resident permit, which can be arranged by the Embassy
for official employees after arrival.
Travelers should, of course, have any required visas for
countries they will transit. A yellow card is also required for
Pets Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:48 AM
An import permit, required for dogs and cats, must be obtained in
advance by advising the Embassy of the following information prior
to arrival: type of animal; breed; sex; color; age; and weight, with
and without cage. The dog or cat must be imported directly from the
country of origin and not be exposed to infection en route. A dog or
cat imported into Malawi must be accompanied by health and
vaccination certificates stating that:
The dog or cat must be examined within 14 days prior to arrival
in Malawi and must be free of all contagious or infectious diseases.
The dog or cat must be immunized against rabies not less than 30
days and not more than 12 months prior to exportation from the U.S.
It should not have been in contact with a rabid animal during the
previous 6 months. The vaccination certificate must include a
description of the dog or cat, the date of vaccination, the batch
number of the vaccine, and the name of the production laboratory.
If you wish to import other types of pets into Malawi, check with
post in advance to determine current policies.
If your pet is shipped via South Africa, you must obtain a South
African entry permit for the pet even if it is only in transit and
the pet will be conveyed by air freight, not as checked baggage.
Check with South African Airlines for further information.
We recommend that you mail any necessary pet supplies to post at
least one month prior to the pet's arrival. Fleas and ticks are a
problem made manageable by including a supply of a reliable American
repellent in your pet supplies. If your pet suffers from a chronic
affliction, be sure to bring a supply of medicine, as Lilongwe's
veterinary services are very basic.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:49 AM
Firearms may be shipped to post in HHE shipments by direct-hire
employees for the purpose of protecting their families or for sport
shooting. Prior approval of the Chief of Mission is necessary.
Before the Chief of Mission may grant approval for the importation
of personal weapons, employees must prove to the RSO's or PSO's
satisfaction that they are trained in the operation, maintenance,
and safe storage of those weapons.
Proof of this training can include annual military
recertification, certificates from state government-run hunter
safety courses, private gun clubs as well as state government-issued
permits that require prequalification testing, or telegraphic
certification from their current RSO.
Customs clearance and a police permit are required for all
firearms. The Regional Security Officer can assist with customs
clearance and registration. A detailed description of the weapon
should be submitted to post as far in advance as possible, including
make, model, caliber, and serial number, and, if a shotgun, whether
singe or double barrel. Firearms and ammunition that do not have an
import permit will be confiscated and held for a lengthy processing
period. Firearms and ammunition may not be shipped to post via
diplomatic pouch or airfreight (UAB).
Only the following types of non-automatic firearms and ammunition
may be imported into Malawi:
Rifles with a barrel length of 20 inches or longer, except those
capable of firing more than 2 rounds without reloading.
Shotguns with a barrel length of 20 inches or longer, except
those capable of firing more than 2 rounds without reloading; and
100 rounds of ammunition per year for each type of firearm approved.
Embassy approval is required prior to the sale of any imported
firearm that is not exported when the employee leaves Malawi.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
5/12/2004 5:19 AM
Malawi introduced its own decimal currency in February 1971. The
units are tambala and kwacha, with 100 tambala equaling 1 kwacha
equaling. The Malawi kwacha (MK) is linked to a "basket" of
international currencies to determine base value. As of May 11,
2004, the rate of exchange was about MK 107.28 to US$1. No
limitation exists on bringing foreign currency or travelers checks
into the country. Malawi has strict currency laws limiting the
amount of Malawi currency that may be taken out of the country,
although travelers may re-export all currency declared on arrival.
The Embassy provides accommodation exchange for all U.S.
Government employees assigned to agencies which have subscribed to
the Financial Services cost center of ICASS. An official employee
whose agency subscribes to this cost center and is traveling out of
the country may purchase limited amounts of U.S. dollars with
approval of the Management Officer.
Malawi uses the metric system of weights and measures, although
many individuals may still quote measures in the older British
system (i.e., miles, pounds, etc.).
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/12/2004
Restrictions U.S. Government personnel assigned to Malawi are
exempt from most taxes although all personnel are currently subject
to a 10% government tax plus 10% service charge on restaurant and
hotel bills, as well as a $30 international departure fee at the
airport. Recently the GOM has agreed to fullfill its responsibilites
under the Vienna Convention and instituted a system to exempt or
reimburse diplomatic personnel from taxes on purchases of goods and
Any motor vehicle imported or purchased locally free of customs
duty and subsequently sold in Malawi to a person without duty-free
privileges is subject to customs duty. Duty is usually payable by
the seller at the time of sale, although specific agreements may be
negotiated with the buyer to include customs payment. Depending on
the vehicle value, size, and country of origin, customs duty rates
payable for used cars average about 80% of the sales price.
Facilities Official personnel may purchase travelers checks at a
local bank with Embassy confirmation of status. U.S. Government
employees assigned to agencies which have subscribed to the
Financial Services cost center of ICASS may cash personal checks at
the Embassy cashier facility. Credit cards, such as American
Express, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted at a few restaurants and
hotels, but they are not widely recognized.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:50 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Alexander, Caroline. "Personal History: An Ideal State." The New
Yorker: December 16, 1991
Area Handbook for Malawi. Director, Foreign Areas Studies, The
Chanock, Martin. Law, Custom and Social Order: The Colonial
Experience in Malawi and Zambia. New York, Cambridge University
Crowther, Geoff. Africa on a Shoestring. Hawthorne, Victoria,
Australia: Lonely Planet Publications.
Else, David. Lonely Planet Guide: Malawi. Oakland, CA. Lonely
Planet Publications: 2001
Oliver, Roland. Sir Harry Johnston and the Scramble for Africa.
Chatto and Windus: 1964.
O'Toole, Thomas. Malawi in Pictures. (Visual Geography Series).
Minneapolis, MN. Lerner Publications: 1996
Pike, John G. Malawi, A Political and Economic History. Pall Mall
Ransfield, Oliver. Livingstone's Lake. Camelot Press: 1966.
Rotberg, Robert I. The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The
Making of Malawi and Zambia. Harvard University Press: Cambridge,
Short, Phillip. Banda. Routledge & Kegan: 1974
Smith, Pachai, and Tangri. Malawi, Past and Present.
Williams, T. David. Malawi: The Politics of Despair. Cornell
University Press: New York, 1978
Young, A. and Young, D.M. A Geography of Malawi. North Ponfret,
VT. Trafalgar: 1991
Useful Internet Sites:
http://allafrica.com http://africanews.com http://www.friendsofmalawi.org
Local Holidays Last Updated: 5/12/2004 4:51 AM
Malawi public holidays are:
New Year's Day Jan. 1
John Chilembwe Day Jan. 15
Martyr's Day Mar. 3
Good Friday Date varies
Easter Monday Date varies
Labor Day May 1
Freedom Day June 14
Republic Day July 6
Mother's Day Second Monday in October
Christmas Day Dec. 25
Boxing Day Dec. 26
Eid El Fitr Date varies