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Malawi Demographics Profile 2019

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19,842,560 (July 2018 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

Age structure
0-14 years: 46.17% (male 4,560,940 /female 4,600,184)
15-24 years: 20.58% (male 2,023,182 /female 2,059,765)
25-54 years: 27.57% (male 2,717,613 /female 2,752,983)
55-64 years: 3% (male 284,187 /female 310,393)
65 years and over: 2.69% (male 234,776 /female 298,537) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 91 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 85.3 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.7 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 17.4 (2015 est.)
Median age
total: 16.6 years (2018 est.)
male: 16.5 years
female: 16.8 years
Population growth rate
3.31% (2018 est.)
Birth rate
40.7 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate
7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
urban population: 17.2% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 4.19% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major cities - population
1.075 million LILONGWE (capital), 905,000 Blantyre-Limbe (2019)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth
18.9 years (2015/16 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Infant mortality rate
total: 42.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 48.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 35.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 62.2 years (2018 est.)
male: 60.2 years
female: 64.3 years
Total fertility rate
5.43 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
59.2% (2015/16)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
9.2% (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
1 million (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
13,000 (2018 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 95.7% of population
rural: 89.1% of population
total: 90.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 4.3% of population
rural: 10.9% of population
total: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 47.3% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 39.8% of population (2015 est.)
total: 41% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 52.7% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 60.2% of population (2015 est.)
total: 59% of population (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: very high (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever (2016)
water contact diseases: schistosomiasis (2016)
animal contact diseases: rabies (2016)
noun: Malawian(s)
adjective: Malawian
Ethnic groups
Chewa 34.3%, Lomwe 18.8%, Yao 13.2%, Ngoni 10.4%, Tumbuka 9.2%, Sena 3.8%, Mang'anja 3.2%, Tonga 1.8%, Nyanja 1.8%, Nkhonde 1%, other 2.2%, foreign .3% (2018 est.)
Protestant 33.5% (includes Church of Central Africa Presbyterian 14.2%, Seventh Day Adventist/Baptist 9.4%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Anglican 2.3%), Roman Catholic 17.2%, other Christian 26.6%, Muslim 13.8%, traditionalist 1.1%, other 5.6%, none 2.1% (2018 est.)
Demographic profile

Malawi has made great improvements in maternal and child health, but has made less progress in reducing its high fertility rate. In both rural and urban areas, very high proportions of mothers are receiving prenatal care and skilled birth assistance, and most children are being vaccinated. Malawi’s fertility rate, however, has only declined slowly, decreasing from more than 7 children per woman in the 1980s to about 5.5 today. Nonetheless, Malawians prefer smaller families than in the past, and women are increasingly using contraceptives to prevent or space pregnancies. Rapid population growth and high population density is putting pressure on Malawi’s land, water, and forest resources. Reduced plot sizes and increasing vulnerability to climate change, further threaten the sustainability of Malawi’s agriculturally based economy and will worsen food shortages. About 80% of the population is employed in agriculture.

Historically, Malawians migrated abroad in search of work, primarily to South Africa and present-day Zimbabwe, but international migration became uncommon after the 1970s, and most migration in recent years has been internal. During the colonial period, Malawians regularly migrated to southern Africa as contract farm laborers, miners, and domestic servants. In the decade and a half after independence in 1964, the Malawian Government sought to transform its economy from one dependent on small-scale farms to one based on estate agriculture. The resulting demand for wage labor induced more than 300,000 Malawians to return home between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. In recent times, internal migration has generally been local, motivated more by marriage than economic reasons.

English (official), Chichewa (common), Chinyanja, Chiyao, Chitumbuka, Chilomwe, Chinkhonde, Chingoni, Chisena, Chitonga, Chinyakyusa, Chilambya
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.1%
male: 69.8%
female: 55.2% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2011)
Education expenditures
4% of GDP (2017)
Maternal mortality rate
349 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
11.8% (2015)
Health expenditures
9.3% (2015)
Physicians density
0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
Hospital bed density
1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
5.8% (2016)

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on December 7, 2019

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