Malawi is one of Africa's most densely populated states. About 14 million people share about 118,000 square kilometers of land. The average population density is approximately 140 people per square kilometer, and even more in the cities, particularly Blantyre. Only about 15 percent of Malawi's people live in the urban centers, leaving the majority of Malawians spread throughout the country's rural areas.
These Bantu-speaking peoples are thought to be the ancestors of such current day tribes as the Chewa, Lomwe, Ngonde, Ngoni, Nyanja, Sena, Tonga, Tumbuka and Yao.
Even though Malawi has the dubious distinction of being one of Africa's least developed countries, this does not mean that it is devoid of all modern conveniences. Imported foods and better communications facilities are available in larger cities for a price. However, getting accustomed to life in Malawi requires an active effort on your part to understand and become a part of the local culture. There are plenty of foreign organizations that can provide guidance to newcomers.
Despite political changes in the past 20 years, not much has changed for the average Malawian. The nation's economy is still poor and its infrastructure continues to be underdeveloped. There is also considerable strain on that infrastructure from both a large, dense population (approximately 14 million people in a land about 180,000 square kilometers) and the AIDS epidemic. Malawi, like many southern African countries, has found itself infected with HIV, and about 15 percent of its population has fallen prey to this fatal disease.
International interest in this country has been rising slowly, since much outside aid was cut off near the end of Banda's rule. President Muluzi has done much to strengthen ties with South Africa, the primary economic force in southern Africa. As more business comes into the area, there are hopes that the economy will revive and the country strengthen itself enough to be able to handle all of its issues.
Although this fledgling nation has its share of economic, health and political issues, there is no reason why expatriates cannot enjoy an assignment in Malawi. The country's nickname, The Warm Heart of Africa, is completely justified by the friendliness of the local people, who are often more than willing to help newcomers. The beautiful weather is conducive to outdoor activity, making Lake Malawi one of the area's leading tourist attractions. Also, since foreign investment is encouraged, expatriate employees are very appreciated and respected.