The majority of Malawians are beholden to subsistence farming practices in order to survive. This unfortunately means that extreme weather of the kind that Malawi is subject to on occasion — for example, droughts or heavy rainfall — can disrupt food production. It is in these times that Malawi is particularly reliant on overseas aid.
Malawi’s population totals just over 17 million people and is forecast to increase dramatically to over 45 million people by 2050. Over eight native ethnic groups make up Malawi’s population, the largest of which is the Chewa (32.6%).
The country’s official languages are Chichewa and English, which over half of the population is capable of speaking. However, there are a variety of other native tongues spoken within the different regions and among the various ethnic groups of Malawi.
Although Malawi is mostly Christian, a substantial Muslim minority is also in residence there: The Malawi Religion Project run by the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 found that approximately 68% of the population identified themselves as Christians, 25% as Muslims and 5% as other.
Malawi’s climate varies depending on which area of the country one is thinking of relocating to; the south of the country is hot, whereas in the northern highlands, the climate is temperate. It is the high altitude that induces this latter climate in what would otherwise be subject to an equatorial climate.
Speaking generally, expatriates moving to Malawi can expect warm temperatures between November and April, when it is also prone to equatorial rain and thunderstorms, with the storms reaching their zenith around March.
A visitor’s permit can be procured upon arrival in Malawi, which allows one to stay in the country for a short period of time and for tourism, business, or family visits. The permit is valid for 30 days and can be extended for a further 60 days for a fee.
Those coming to work in Malawi require a Temporary Employee Permit, which should be applied for by the future employer at the Immigration Headquarters or Regional Immigration Offices. The permit can be renewed twice, and the renewal application should be submitted 3 months before the expiration of the permit.