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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 1999.

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 people.

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 major cities.

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 <>; <>; and <>.


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 Harare.

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 20189-2280

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 self-censorship.

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 the Internet.

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 suturing.

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 consumables shipments.

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 distillers.

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 4:21 AM

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 schools.

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 Resources Office.

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


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 intentions.

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 swimming pool.

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 supply.

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 current.

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 cans.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 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 available.

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 reasonable costs.

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 limited selection.

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 town.

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' quarters.

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 Lilongwe.

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 in Lilongwe.

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.

Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 5/9/2005 4:16 PM Bishop Mackenzie International School:

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.

Other Schools:

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 facilities.

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 Lilongwe.

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 advance.

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 from Lilongwe.

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 Lilongwe.

Social Activities

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 entertaining.

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.

Official Functions

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 to Johannesburg.

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 avoided.

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 personnel.

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 entry.

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 5:44 AM

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 services.

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 unofficial publications.

Alexander, Caroline. "Personal History: An Ideal State." The New Yorker: December 16, 1991

Area Handbook for Malawi. Director, Foreign Areas Studies, The American University.

Chanock, Martin. Law, Custom and Social Order: The Colonial Experience in Malawi and Zambia. New York, Cambridge University Press: 1985

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 Press: 1968

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, 1965

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:

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

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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