Malawi has a total size less than 120,000 sq.km and over 20% of that is taken up by the 560 km long Lake Malawi. Evidence of human ancestors dating back over one million years ago have been found in the area and early humans were living there 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.
In 1964 Nyasaland gained independence, and was renamed the Republic of Malawi. In 1993, the people voted overwhelmingly in favour of a multi-party democracy, and free elections were held the following year.
Malawi is one of the most densely populated and impoverished countries in Africa. Life expectancy has been dropping and is now estimated at less than 37 years. Child mortality exceeds 10%, and there are more than a million orphans, the majority due to AIDS.