The authoritarian President Hastings Kamuz Banda presided over Malawi for 30 years following independence. Malawi had its first democratic election in 1994 in which President Banda lost power and was replaced by a more open government.
Since 2005, when President Metharika implemented a variety of programs intended to stimulate economic growth, the nation has seen improvements in healthcare, education and environmental conditions.
Malawi is equipped with a number of central hospitals, as well as regional and private medical facilities. Malawians are granted free access to healthcare and medicines by the state, a service that is augmented by the work of non-governmental organizations that also provide healthcare services free of charge.
In spite of this, the large rural population of Malawi means that many inhabitants still do not have ready access to healthcare. Infant mortality rates among Malawians remain high, and the average life expectancy of Malawians is 60 years.
HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are also high in Malawi; an estimated 950,000 Malawian adults aged 15 and over were living with the disease in 2013, according to the UNAIDS 2013 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. As such, normal precautions to avoid HIV/AIDS should be taken by all expats living in Malawi.
Other common infectious diseases that expatriates might be at risk of in Malawi include: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, plague, schistosomiasis, and rabies.
Expatriates should inquire about vaccinations before they embark on their travels. If any medical emergencies should occur, call 997, 998 or 999 and request an ambulance.
Aside from health risks posed by disease in Malawi, expatriates should be fairly safe in the country. Nevertheless, remain vigilant to the possibility of muggings, especially when in areas such as the main bus stations of Lilongwe and Blantyre. Expats should also avoid walking after dark wherever possible, especially alone.
When traveling around Malawi by car, be sure to keep all doors locked and windows closed as armed car-jacking has been known to occur; keep a vigilant eye out for obstructions on the road or strangers attempting to stop your vehicle.
When considering relocating to Malawi, be advised that house burglaries are relatively common, although low relative to regional standards. Lilongwe, Blantyre and Limbe have all recently seen increases in break-ins, sometimes violent. Be sure to have comprehensive security systems and protocols in place.
Malawi’s transportation infrastructure is underdeveloped. Its road network is over 15,000 km long, but only close to 8,500 km of it is paved and maintained. When traveling by road, expatriates should heed the advice delineated in the safety and security section of this article.
The main airport for international flights is Kamuzu International Airport, situated 19 km north of its capital city Lilongwe. Although there were reported to be 44 airports in Malawi in 2001, as of 2015 only two of those airports have scheduled passenger services.
A railway network exists in Malawi that was privatized in 1999 and is now run by Central East African Railways. There is close to 800 km of railway in Malawi, some of which links the nation to neighboring Zambia and Mozambique.