Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest. The country's capital is OuagadougouSony PCG-71313M battery.
Its size is 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 15,757,000. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, it was renamed on 4 August 1984, by President Thomas Sankara, to mean "the land of upright people" in Mòoré and Dioula, the major native languages of the countrySony PCG-71212M battery. Figuratively, "Burkina" may be translated, "men of integrity", from the Mòoré language, and "Faso" means "fatherland" in Dioula. The inhabitants of Burkina Faso are known as Burkinabè ( /bərˈkiːnəbeɪ/ bər-kee-nə-bay).
Burkina Faso was populated between 14,000 and 5000 BC by hunter-gatherers in the country's northwestern region. Farm settlements appeared between 3600 and 2600 BCSony PCG-71311M battery. What is now central Burkina Faso was principally composed of Mossi kingdoms. These Mossi Kingdoms became a French protectorate in 1896. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country underwent many governmental changes until arriving at its current form, a semi-presidential republic. The president is Blaise CompaoréSony PCG-71213M battery.
It is a member of the African Union, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, La Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Economic Community of West African States.
The territory of today's Burkina Faso was populated between 14,000 and 5000 BC, by hunter-gatherers in the northwestern part of the country, whose tools, such as scrapers, chisels and arrowheads, were discovered in 1973 by Simran NijjarSony PCG-61211M battery. Settlements with farmers appeared between 3600 and 2600 BC. On the basis of traces of the farmers' structures, the settlements appear to have been permanent. The use of iron, ceramics and polished stone developed between 1500 and 1000 BC, as did a preoccupation with spiritual matters, as shown by burial remainsSONY PCG-8113M battery.
Relics of the Dogon are found in Burkina Faso's north and northwest regions. Sometime between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Dogon left the area to settle in the cliffs of Bandiagara. Elsewhere, the remains of high walls are localized in the southwest of Burkina Faso (as well as in the Côte d'Ivoire), but the people who built them have not yet been identifiedSONY PCG-8112M battery . Loropeni is a pre-European stone ruin which was linked to the gold trade. It has been declared as Burkina Faso's first World Heritage site.
The central part of Burkina Faso included a number of Mossi kingdoms, the most powerful of which were those of Wagadogo (Ouagadougou) and Yatenga. These kingdoms emerged probably in the early sixteenth century from obscure origins veiled by legend featuring a heterogeneous set of warrior figures. SONY PCG-7134M battery
From colony to independence
Traditional homes in south-east Burkina Faso
Traditional Tiebele house decoration
After a decade of intense rivalry and competition between the British and the French, waged through treaty-making expeditions under military or civilian explorers, the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate in 1896. The eastern region and the western regionSONY PCG-7131M battery, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, came under French occupation in 1897. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso today was nominally conquered; however, control of many parts remained uncertain.
The French and British convention of 14 June 1898 ended the scramble between the two colonial powers and drew the borders between the countries' coloniesSONY PCG-7122M battery. On the French side, a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years. In 1904, the largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger colony of French West Africa as part of the reorganization of the French West African colonial empire. The colony had its capital in BamakoSONY PCG-7121M battery .
Draftees from the territory participated in the European fronts of World War I in the battalions of the Senegalese Rifles. Between 1915 and 1916, the districts in the western part of what is now Burkina Faso and the bordering eastern fringe of Mali became the stage of one of the most important armed oppositions to colonial governmentSONY PCG-7113M battery, known as the Volta-Bani War. The French government finally suppressed the movement, but only after suffering defeats and being forced to gather the largest expeditionary force of its colonial history up to that point. Armed opposition also wracked the Sahelian north when the Tuareg and allied groups of the Dori region ended their truce with the governmentSONY PCG-7112M battery .
French Upper Volta was established on 1 March 1919. This move was a result of French fears of the recurrence of armed uprising along with economic considerations, and to bolster its administration, the colonial government separated the present territory of Burkina Faso from Upper Senegal and Niger. The new colony was named Haute Volta and François Charles Alexis Édouard Hesling became its first governorSONY PCG-8Z3M battery. Hesling initiated an ambitious road-making program and promoted the growth of cotton for export. The cotton policy – based on coercion – failed, and revenue stagnated. The colony was later dismantled on 5 September 1932, being split up between Côte d'Ivoire, French Sudan and Niger. Côte d'Ivoire received the largest share, which contained most of the population as well as the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-DioulassoSONY PCG-8Z2M battery .
Children during the 1983–1987 revolution
The decision to split the colony was reversed during the intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of World War II. On 4 September 1947 the colony was revived as a part of the French Union, with its previous boundaries. On 11 December 1958 it achieved self-government and became the Republic of Upper Volta and a member of the Franco-African CommunitySONY PCG-8Z1M battery . A revision in the organization of French Overseas Territories began with the passage of the Basic Law (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956. This act was followed by reorganizational measures approved by the French parliament early in 1957 to ensure a large degree of self-government for individual territories. Upper Volta became an autonomous republic in the French community on 11 December 1958. Full independence from France was received in 1960SONY PCG-8Y3M battery.
Main article: Republic of Upper Volta
A railway station in Bobo Dioulasso, built during the colonial era, still in operation
The Republic of Upper Volta (French: République de Haute-Volta) was established on 11 December 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. The name Upper Volta indicated that the country is situated on the upper reaches of the Volta River. The river's three tributaries are called the Black Volta, White Volta and Red VoltaSONY PCG-8Y2M battery, and the colors of the national flag corresponded to these parts of the river system.
Before attaining autonomy it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On 5 August 1960, it attained full independence from France. The first president, Maurice Yaméogo, was the leader of the Voltaic Democratic Union (UDV). The 1960 constitution provided for election by universal suffrage of a president and a national assembly for five-year terms. Soon after coming to power, Yaméogo banned all political parties other than the UDV. SONY PCG-7Z1M battery The government lasted until 1966 when after much unrest—mass demonstrations and strikes by students, labor unions, and civil servants—the military intervened.
The military coup deposed Yaméogo, suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, and placed Lt. Col. Sangoulé Lamizana at the head of a government of senior army officers. The army remained in power for four yearsSONY PCG-6W2M battery , and on 14 June 1970, the Voltans ratified a new constitution that established a four-year transition period toward complete civilian rule. Lamizana remained in power throughout the 1970s as president of military or mixed civil-military governments. After conflict over the 1970 constitution, a new constitution was written and approved in 1977, and Lamizana was reelected by open elections in 1978SONY PCG-5J5M battery.
Lamizana's government faced problems with the country's traditionally powerful trade unions, and on 25 November 1980, Col. Saye Zerbo overthrew President Lamizana in a bloodless coup. Colonel Zerbo established the Military Committee of Recovery for National Progress as the supreme governmental authority, thus eradicating the 1977 constitutionSONY PCG-5K2M battery.
Colonel Zerbo also encountered resistance from trade unions and was overthrown two years later, on 7 November 1982, by Maj. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo and the Council of Popular Salvation (CSP). The CSP continued to ban political parties and organizations, yet promised a transition to civilian rule and a new constitutionSONY PCG-5K1M battery.
Factional infighting developed between moderates in the CSP and the radicals, led by Capt. Thomas Sankara, who was appointed prime minister in January 1983. The internal political struggle and Sankara's leftist rhetoric led to his arrest and subsequent efforts to bring about his release, directed by Capt. Blaise Compaoré. This release effort resulted in yet another military coup d'état on 4 August 1983SONY PCG-5J4M battery .
After the coup, Sankara formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with himself as president. Sankara also established Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) to "mobilize the masses" and implement the CNR's revolutionary programs. The CNR, whose exact membership remained secret until the end, contained two small intellectual Marxist-Leninist groupsSONY PCG-5J1M battery. Sankara, Compaore, Capt. Henri Zongo, and Maj. Jean-Baptiste Lingani—all leftist military officers—dominated the regime.
On 4 August 1984, as a final result of President Sankara's zealous activities, the country's name was eventually changed from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which translates to "land of honest people".
On 15 October 1987 Sankara was killed by an armed gang with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organized by his former colleague and current president, Blaise CompaoréSONY PCG-5G2M battery. Deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons given, with Compaore stating that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire. Prince Johnson, a former Liberian warlord allied to Charles Taylor, told Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that it was engineered by Charles TaylorSony VAIO PCG-8131M battery. After the coup and although Sankara was known to be dead, some CDRs mounted an armed resistance to the army for several days.
Sankara's body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave, while his widow and two children fled the country. Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalizations, overturned nearly all of Sankara's policiesSony VAIO PCG-8152M battery, returned the country back under the IMF fold, and ultimately spurned most of Sankara's legacy. As of 2010, Compaoré is entering his 23rd year in power. He "has become immensely wealthy", while Burkina Faso ranks as the third least developed country in the world.
In February–April 2011, the death of a schoolboy provoked an uprising throughout the country, coupled with a military mutiny and a strike of the magistrates, dubbed the 2011 Burkinabè protestsSony VAIO PCG-31311M battery.
Main article: Politics of Burkina Faso
Former prime minister Tertius Zongo
With French help, the incumbent Blaise Compaoré seized power in a coup d'état in 1987, betraying his long-time friend and ally Thomas Sankara, who was killed in the coup.
The constitution of 2 June 1991 established a semi-presidential government with a parliament which can be dissolved by the President of the RepublicSony VAIO PCG-31111M battery, who is elected for a term of seven years.
In 2000, the constitution was amended to reduce the presidential term to five years. The amendment took effect during the 2005 elections. The amendment also would have prevented the incumbent president, Blaise Compaoré, from being reelected.
However, in October 2005, notwithstanding a challenge by other presidential candidates, the constitutional council ruled that, because Compaoré was the sitting president in 2000Sony VAIO PCG-8112M battery, the amendment would not apply to him until the end of his second term in office. This cleared the way for his candidacy in the 2005 election. On 13 November, Compaoré was reelected in a landslide, because of a divided political opposition.
In the 2010 November Presidential elections, President Compaoré was re-elected. Only 1.6 million Burkinabès voted, out of a total population 10 times that sizeSony VAIO PCG-7186M battery.
The parliament consists of one chamber known as the National Assembly which has 111 seats with members elected to serve five year terms. There is also a constitutional chamber, composed of ten members, and an economic and social council whose roles are purely consultative.
Political freedoms are severely restricted in Burkina Faso, with human rights organizations decrying numerous acts of state-sponsored violence against journalists and other politically active members of societySony VAIO PCG-7171M battery.
Military, police, and security forces
Main article: Military of Burkina Faso
The country employs numerous police and security forces, generally modeled after organizations used by French police, and France continues to provide significant support and training to police forces in Burkina Faso. The Gendarmerie Nationale is organized along military lines, with most police services delivered at the brigade level. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M battery The Gendarmerie operates under the authority of the Minister of Defence, and its members are employed chiefly in the rural areas and along borders.
There is also a municipal police force controlled by the Ministry of Territorial Administration; a national police force controlled by the Ministry of Security; and an autonomous Presidential Security Regiment (Régiment de la Sécurité Présidentielle, or RSP), a ‘palace guard’ devoted to the protection of the President of the Republic. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M battery Both the gendarmerie and the national police are subdivided into both administrative and judicial police functions; the former are detailed to protect public order and provide security, the latter are charged with criminal investigations.
All foreigners and citizens are required to carry photo ID passports, or other forms of identification or risk a fine, and police spot identity checks are commonplace for persons traveling by auto, bush-taxi, or busSony VAIO PCG-5P1M battery.
The army consists of some 6,000 men in voluntary service, augmented by a part-time national People's Militia composed of civilians between 25 and 35 years of age who are trained in both military and civil duties. According to Jane’s Sentinel Country Risk Assessment, Burkina Faso's Army is undermanned for its force structure and poorly equipped, but has numbers of wheeled light-armour vehiclesSony VAIO PCG-5N2M battery, and may have developed useful combat expertise through interventions in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa.
In terms of training and equipment, the regular Army is believed to be neglected in relation to the élite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP). Reports have emerged in recent years of disputes over pay and conditions. There is an air force with some 19 operational aircraft, but no navy, as the country is landlockedSony VAIO PCG-3C2M battery. Military expenses constitute approximately 1.2% of the nation’s GDP.
In April 2011, there was an army mutiny; the president named new chiefs of staff, and a curfew was imposed in Ouagadougou.
Geography and climate
Satellite image of Burkina Faso
Main articles: Geography of Burkina Faso and Climate of Burkina Faso
Waterfalls at Karfiguela, Burkina Faso
Peaks of Fabédougou
Burkina Faso lies mostly between latitudes 9° and 15°N (a small area is north of 15°), and longitudes 6°W and 3°ESony VAIO PCG-8161M battery.
It is made up of two major types of countryside. The larger part of the country is covered by a peneplain, which forms a gently undulating landscape with, in some areas, a few isolated hills, the last vestiges of a Precambrian massif. The southwest of the country, on the other hand, forms a sandstone massif, where the highest peak, TénakourouSony VAIO PCG-8141M battery, is found at an elevation of 749 meters (2,457 ft). The massif is bordered by sheer cliffs up to 150 meters (492 ft) high. The average altitude of Burkina Faso is 400 meters (1,312 ft) and the difference between the highest and lowest terrain is no greater than 600 meters (1,969 ft). Burkina Faso is therefore a relatively flat countrySony VAIO PCG-3J1M battery.
The country owes its former name of Upper Volta to three rivers which cross it: the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakambé) and the Red Volta (Nazinon). The Black Volta is one of the country's only two rivers which flow year-round, the other being the Komoé, which flows to the southwest. The basin of the Niger River also drains 27% of the country's surfaceSony VAIO PCG-3H1M battery.
The Niger's tributaries – the Béli, the Gorouol, the Goudébo and the Dargol – are seasonal streams and flow for only four to six months a year. They still can flood and overflow, however. The country also contains numerous lakes – the principal ones are Tingrela, Bam and Dem. The country contains large ponds, as well, such as Oursi, Béli, Yomboli and Markoye. Water shortages are often a problem, especially in the north of the countrySony VAIO PCG-3F1M battery.
Savannah near the Gbomblora Department, on the road from Gaoua to Batié
Burkina Faso has a primarily tropical climate with two very distinct seasons. In the rainy season, the country receives between 600 and 900 millimeters (23.6 and 35.4 in) of rainfall; in the dry season, the harmattan – a hot dry wind from the Sahara – blowsSony VAIO PCG-3C1M battery. The rainy season lasts approximately four months, May/June to September, and is shorter in the north of the country. Three climatic zones can be defined: the Sahel, the Sudan-Sahel, and the Sudan-Guinea. The Sahel in the north typically receives less than 600 millimeters (23.6 in) of rainfall per year and has high temperatures, 5–47 degrees Celsius (41–116.6 °F) Sony VAIO PCG-9Z2L battery.
A relatively dry tropical savanna, the Sahel extends beyond the borders of Burkina Faso, from the Horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, and borders the Sahara to its north and the fertile region of the Sudan to the South. Situated between 11°3' and 13°5' north latitude, the Sudan-Sahel region is a transitional zone with regards to rainfall and temperatureSony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery. Further to the south, the Sudan-Guinea zone receives more than 900 millimeters (35.4 in) of rain each year and has cooler average temperatures.
Burkina Faso's natural resources include manganese, limestone, marble, phosphates, pumice, salt and small deposits of gold.
Burkina Faso's fauna and flora are protected in two national parks and several reserves: see List of national parks in Africa, Nature reserves of Burkina Faso.
An information technology workshop during InnovAfrica 2011 in the city Ouagadougou
Graphical depiction of Burkina Faso's product exports in 28 color coded categoriesSony VAIO PCG-9131L battery.
Shop in Burkina Faso
A village pump in Burkina Faso
Main article: Economy of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso has one of the lowest GDP per capita figures in the world: $1,200. Agriculture represents 32% of its gross domestic product and occupies 80% of the working population. It consists mostly of livestock but also, especially in the south and southwest, of growing sorghum, pearl millet, maize (corn), peanuts, rice and cottonSony VAIO PCG-8161L battery. A large part of the economic activity of the country is funded by international aid.
Burkina Faso was ranked the 111th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
Remittances used to be an important source of income to Burkina Faso until the 1990s, when unrest in Côte d'Ivoire, the main destination for Burkinabe emigrants, forced many to return home. Remittances now account for less than 1% of GDPSony VAIO PCG-8152L battery.
Burkina Faso is part of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UMEOA) and has thus adopted the CFA Franc, which is issued by the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO), situated in Dakar, Senegal. The BCEAO is not only responsible for the monetary and reserve policy of the member statesSony VAIO PCG-8141L battery, but also for the regulation and oversight of financial sector and banking activity. A legal framework regarding licensing, bank activities, organizational and capital requirements, inspections and sanctions (all applicable to all countries of the Union) is in place and underwent significant reforms in 1999. Micro-finance institutions are governed by a separate law, which regulates micro-finance activities in all WAEMU countriesSony VAIO PCG-8131L battery. The insurance sector is regulated through the Inter-African Conference on Insurance Markets (CIMA).
There is mining of copper, iron, manganese, gold, cassiterite (tin ore), and phosphates. These operations provide employment, international aid, and in some cases hospitals at mines for the public. Gold production increased 32% in 2011 at six gold mine sites, making Burkina Faso the fourth largest gold producer in Africa, after South Africa, Mali and Ghana. Sony VAIO PCG-81312L battery
Burkina Faso also hosts the International Art and Craft Fair, Ouagadougou, better known by its French name as SIAO, Le Salon International de l' Artisanat de Ouagadougou, one of the most important African handicraft fairs.
Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). Sony VAIO PCG-81214L battery
While services remain underdeveloped, one state-owned utility company run along commercial lines is emerging as one of the best performing utility companies in Africa, the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA). High levels of autonomy and a skilled and dedicated management has driven ONEA's ability to improve production of and access to water. Sony VAIO PCG-81115L battery Since 2000, nearly 2 million more people have access to water in the four principal urban centres in the country while at the same time keeping the quality of infrastructure high (less than 18% of the water is lost through leaks – one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa), improving financial reporting and an average 12% annual revenue increase (well above inflation). Sony VAIO PCG-81114L battery Challenges remain, including some customers' ability to pay and a reliance on aid for the expansion of its infrastructure. However, the state-owned commercially run venture has helped lead Burkina Faso's Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets in its water-related targets and grow as a viable company.
DemographicsSony VAIO PCG-81113L battery
United Nations Square in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Main articles: Demographics of Burkina Faso and Languages of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso's 15.3 million people belong to two major West African cultural groups—the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). The Voltaic Mossi make up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated to present-day Burkina Faso from Ghana and established an empire that lasted more than 800 yearsSony VAIO PCG-7142L battery. Predominantly farmers, the Mossi kingdom is still led by the Mogho Naba, whose court is in Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso is an ethnically integrated, secular state. Most of Burkina's people are concentrated in the south and center of the country, sometimes exceeding 48 per square kilometer (125/sq. mi.). Hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe migrate to Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, many for seasonal agricultural workSony VAIO PCG-7141L battery. These flows of workers are obviously affected by external events; the September 2002 coup attempt in Côte d'Ivoire and the ensuing fighting there have meant that hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe returned to Burkina Faso.
Main article: Health in Burkina Faso
Average life expectancy at birth in 2004 was estimated at 52 for females and 50 for males. The median age of its inhabitants is 16.7. The estimated population growth rate is 3.109%.Sony VAIO PCG-71111L battery Central government spending on health was 3% in 2001. As of 2009, it was estimated that there were as few as 10 physicians per 100,000 people. In addition there were only 41 nurses, and 13 midwives per 100,000 people. Demographic and Health Surveys has completed three surveys in Burkina Faso since 1993 and is currently in the process of performing another. Sony VAIO PCG-61411L battery
In 2009, it was estimated that the adult HIV prevalence rate (ages 15–49) was 1.2%. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, HIV prevalence is declining among pregnant women who attend antenatal clinics.
According to the World Health Organization in 2005 an estimated 72.5% of Burkina Faso's girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation.
The Grand Mosque of Bobo-DioulassoSony VAIO PCG-61112L battery
Cathedral of Ouagadougou
A ceramic vessel used by the Lobi people to store medicine in a shrine in the home or in the family courtyard, 20th century
Main article: Religion in Burkina Faso
Statistics on religion in Burkina Faso are inexact, because Islam and Christianity are often practiced in tandem with indigenous religious beliefs. The Government of Burkina Faso stated in its most recent census (2006) that 60.5% of the population practice IslamSony VAIO PCG-61111L battery, and that the majority of this group belong to the Sunni branch, while a growing minority adheres to the Shi'a branch. A significant number of Sunni Muslims identify with the Tijaniyah Sufi order. The Government also estimated that some 23.2% are Christians (19% being Roman Catholics and 4.2% members of various Protestant denominations), 15.3% follow Traditional indigenous beliefsSony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery, 0.6% have other religions, and 0.4% have none (atheism is virtually nonexistent).
A popular saying in Burkina Faso claims that "50% are Muslim, 50% are Christian, and 100% are animist". This shows the large level of acceptance of the various religions amongst each other. Even for Muslims and Christians, ancient animist rites are still highly valued. The Great Mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso was built by people of different faiths working togetherSony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery.
Main article: Culture of Burkina Faso
Literature in Burkina Faso is based on the oral tradition, which remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pensées et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people. Sony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinabè writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published. Sony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery
The theatre of Burkina Faso combines traditional Burkinabè performance with the colonial influences and post-colonial efforts to educate rural people to produce a distinctive national theatre. Traditional ritual ceremonies of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso have long involved dancing with masks. Western-style theatre became common during colonial timesSony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery, heavily influenced by French theatre. With independence came a new style of theatre inspired by forum theatre aimed at educating and entertaining Burkina Faso's rural people.
Arts and crafts
Artisan garland of decorative painted gourds in Ouagadougou
There is also a large artist community in Burkina Faso, especially in Ouagadougou. Much of the crafts produced are for the growing tourist industry. Tigoung Nonma was set up by a group of disabled artisans and sells crafts to provide a sustainable income for disabled artisans in Burkina Faso. Sony VAIO PCG-5S3L battery
Main article: Burkinabé cuisine
The cuisine of Burkina Faso, typical of west African cuisine, is based around staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra. The most common sources of protein are chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish. A typical Burkinabè beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap, and Zoom-komSony VAIO PCG-5S2L battery.
Main article: Cinema of Burkina Faso
Cinema Sanyon in Bobo-Dioulasso
The cinema of Burkina Faso is an important part of West African and African film industry. Burkina's contribution to African cinema started with the establishment of the film festival FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou), which was launched as a film week in 1969Sony VAIO PCG-5S1L battery. Many of the nation's filmmakers are known internationally and have won international prizes. For many years the headquarters of the Federation of Panafrican Filmmakers (FEPACI) was in Ouagadougou, rescued in 1983 from a period of moribund inactivity by the enthusiastic support and funding of President Sankara (In 2006 the Secretariat of FEPACI moved to South Africa but the headquarters of the organization is still in Ouagaoudougou) Sony VAIO PCG-5R2L battery. Among the best known directors from Burkina Faso are Gaston Kaboré, Idrissa Ouedraogo and Dani Kouyate. Burkina also produces popular television series such as Bobodjiouf. The internationally known filmmakers such as Ouedraogo, Kabore, Yameogo, and Kouyate also make popular television series.
Main article: Sport in Burkina FasoSony VAIO PCG-5R1L battery
Sport in Burkina Faso is widespread and includes football (soccer), basketball, cycling, Rugby union, handball, tennis, athletics, boxing and martial arts. Football is very popular in Burkina Faso, played both professionally, and informally in towns and villages across the country. The national team is nicknamed "Les Etalons" ("the Stallions")Sony VAIO PCG-5P4L battery in reference to the legendary horse of Princess Yennenga. In 1998, Burkina Faso hosted the African Cup of Nations for which the Omnisport Stadium in Bobo-Dioulasso was built.The country is currently ranked 87th in the FIFA World Rankings.
Main article: Education in Burkina Faso
School children in Dourtenga
Education in Burkina Faso is divided into primary, secondary and higher education. However schooling costs approximately CFA 50,000 ($97 USD) per yearSony VAIO PCG-5P2L battery, which is far above the means of most Burkinabè families. Boys receive preference in schooling; as such, girls' education and literacy rates are far lower than their male counterparts. An increase in girls' schooling has been observed because of the government's policy of making school cheaper for girls and granting them more scholarshipsSony VAIO PCG-5N4L battery. In order to proceed from elementary to middle school, middle to high school or high school to college, national exams must be passed. Institutions of higher education include the University of Ouagadougou, The Polytechnical University in Bobo-Dioulasso and the University of Koudougou, which is also a teacher training institutionSony VAIO PCG-5N2L battery. There are private colleges in the capital city of Ouagadougou but these are affordable by only a small portion of the population.
There is also an International School of Ouagadougou (ISO), which is an American-based private school located in Ouagadougou.
The UN Development Program Report ranks Burkina Faso as the country with the lowest level of literacy in the world, despite a concerted effort to double its literacy rate from 12.8% in 1990 to 25.3% in 2008. Sony VAIO PCG-51513L battery
National and independent media
Main articles: Media of Burkina Faso and Communications in Burkina Faso
A member of the Burkinabé media at work in Ougadougou
The nation's principal media outlet is its state-sponsored combined television and radio service, Radiodiffusion-Télévision Burkina (RTB). RTB broadcasts on two medium-wave (AM) and several FM frequencies. Besides RTBSony VAIO PCG-51511L battery, there are also a number of privately owned sports, cultural, music, and religious FM radio stations. RTB also maintains a worldwide short-wave news broadcast (Radio Nationale Burkina) in the French language from the capital at Ouagadougou using a 100 kW transmitter on 4.815 and 5.030 MHz.
Attempts to develop an independent press and media in Burkina Faso have been intermittent. In 1998, investigative journalist Norbert ZongoSony VAIO PCG-51412L battery, his brother Ernest, his driver, and another man were assassinated by unknown assailants, and the bodies burned. The crime was never solved. However, an independent Commission of Inquiry later concluded that Norbert Zongo was killed for political reasons because of his investigative work into the death of David Ouedraogo, a chauffeur who worked for François CompaoréSony VAIO PCG-51411L battery, President Blaise Compaoré's brother. In January 1999, François Compaoré was charged with the murder of David Ouedraogo, who had died as a result of torture in January 1998. The charges were later dropped by a military tribunal after an appeal. In August 2000, five members of the President's personal security guard detail (Régiment de la Sécurité Présidentielle, or RSP) were charged with the murder of OuedraogoSony VAIO PCG-51312L battery. RSP members Marcel Kafando, Edmond Koama, and Ousseini Yaro, investigated as suspects in the Norbert Zongo assassination, were convicted in the Ouedraogo case and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
Since the death of Norbert Zongo, several protests regarding the Zongo investigation and treatment of journalists have been prevented or dispersed by government police and security forces. In April 2007, popular radio reggae host Karim SamaSony VAIO PCG-51311L battery, whose programs feature reggae songs interspersed with critical commentary on alleged government injustice and corruption, received several death threats. Sama's personal car was later burned outside the private radio station Ouaga FM by unknown vandals. In response, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote to President Compaoré toSony VAIO PCG-51211L battery request his government investigate the sending of e-mailed death threats to journalists and radio commentators in Burkina Faso who were critical of the government. In December 2008, police in Ouagadougou questioned leaders of a protest march that called for a renewed investigation into the unsolved Zongo assassination. Among the marchers was Jean-Claude Meda, the president of the Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso.
Malawi, officially the Republic of MalawiSony VAIO PCG-41112L battery, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000Sony VAIO PCG-3A4L battery. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa".
The area of Africa now known as Malawi was colonized by migrating tribes of Bantu around the 10th century. In 1891 the area was colonized againSony VAIO PCG-3A3L battery, this time by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, became part of the semi-independent Central African Federation (CAF). The Federation was dissolved in 1963 and in 1964, Nyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi. Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994Sony VAIO PCG-3A2L battery, when he was ousted from power. Joyce Banda (no relation) is the current president, raised to that position after president Bingu Mutharika died in 2012. She is the first female leader in Malawi. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western Sony VAIO PCG-3A1L batteryand includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organizations.
Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need Sony VAIO PCG-394L battery (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent. Malawi has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improvingSony VAIO PCG-393L battery, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.
Malawi has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality. There is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which is a drain on the labor force and government expenditures. There is a diverse population of native peoples, Asians and Europeans, with several languages spoken and an array of religious beliefs. Although there was tribal conflict in the pastSony VAIO PCG-391L battery, by 2008 it had diminished considerably and the concept of a Malawian nationality had begun to form. Malawi has a culture combining native and colonial aspects, including sports, art, dance and music.
Main article: History of Malawi
The area of Africa now known as Malawi had a very small population of hunter gatherers before waves of Bantu-speaking peoples began emigrating from the north around the 10th centurySony VAIO PCG-384L battery. Although most of the Bantu peoples continued south, some remained permanently and founded tribes based on common ancestry. By 1500 AD, the tribes had established a kingdom that reached from north of what is now Nkhotakota to the Zambezi River and from Lake Malawi to the Luangwa River in what is now Zambia.
Soon after 1600Sony VAIO PCG-383L battery, with the area mostly united under one native ruler, native tribesmen began encountering, trading with and making alliances with Portuguese traders and members of the military. By 1700, however, the empire had broken up into areas controlled by many individual tribes, which was noted by the Portuguese in their information gathering. The Swahili-Arab slave trade reached its height about 150 years agoSony VAIO PCG-382L battery, when approximately 20,000 slaves were considered to be carried yearly from Nkhotakota to Kilwa where they were sold.
David Livingstone reached Lake Malawi (then Lake Nyasa) in 1859, when Malawi was originally known as Nyasaland under the rule of the British. In a prime example of what is sometimes called the "Thin White Line" of colonial authority in AfricaSony VAIO PCG-381L battery, the colonial government of Nyasaland was formed in 1891. The administrators were given a budget of £10,000 per year, which was enough to employ ten European civilians, two military officers, seventy Punjab Sikhs, and eighty-five Zanzibar porters. These few employees were then expected to administer and police a territory of around 94,000 square kilometers with between one and two million people.Sony VAIO PCG-7185L battery
1897 British Central Africa stamp issued by the United Kingdom
In 1944, the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) was formed by the Africans of Nyasaland to promote local interests to the British government. In 1953, Britain linked Nyasaland with Northern and Southern Rhodesia in what was known as the Central African Federation (CAF), for mainly political reasons. Even though the Federation was semi-independent the linking provoked opposition from African nationalists, and the NAC gained popular supportSony VAIO PCG-7184L battery. An influential opponent of the CAF was Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a European-trained doctor working in Ghana who was persuaded to return to Nyasaland in 1958 to assist the nationalist cause. Banda was elected president of the NAC and worked to mobilize nationalist sentiment before being jailed by colonial authorities in 1959. He was released in 1960 and asked to help draft a new constitution for NyasalandSony VAIO PCG-7183L battery, with a clause granting Africans the majority in the colony's Legislative Counsel.
In 1961, Banda's Malawi Congress Party (MCP) gained the majority in the Legislative Council elections and Banda became Prime Minister in 1963. The Federation was dissolved in 1963, and on 6 July 1964, Nyasaland became independent from British rule and renamed itself MalawiSony VAIO PCG-7182L battery. Under a new constitution, Malawi became a single-party state under MCP rule in 1966, and in 1970 Banda declared himself president-for-life. For almost 30 years, Banda ruled firmly, suppressing opposition to his party and ensuring that he had no personal opposition.
Despite his political severity, however, Malawi's economy while Banda was president was often cited as an example of how a poor, landlocked, heavily populated, mineral-poor country could achieve progress in both agriculture and industrial development. Sony VAIO PCG-7181L battery While in office, and using his control of the country, Banda constructed a business empire that eventually produced one-third of the country's GDP and employed 10% of the wage-earning workforce.
Under pressure for increased political freedom, Banda agreed to a referendum in 1993, where the populace voted for a multi-party democracy. In late 1993 a presidential council was formed, the life presidency was abolished and a new constitution was put into placeSony VAIO PCG-7174L battery, effectively ending the MCP's rule. In 1994 the first multi-party elections were held in Malawi, and Bakili Muluzi became president. Muluzi remained president until 2004, when Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika was elected. Although the political environment is described as "challenging", as of 2009, the multi-party system still exists in Malawi. Multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections were held for the fourth time in Malawi in May 2009Sony VAIO PCG-7173L battery, and President Mutharika was successfully re-elected, despite charges of election fraud from his rival.
President Mutharika was seen by some as increasingly autocratic and dismissive of human rights, and in July 2011 protests over high costs of living, devolving foreign relations, poor governance and a lack of foreign exchange reserves erupted. The protests left 18 people dead and at least 44 others suffering from gun shot wounds. Sony VAIO PCG-7172L battery In April 2012, Mutharika died of a heart attack; the presidential title was taken over by former Vice President Joyce Banda.
Main articles: Politics of Malawi, Elections in Malawi, and Military of Malawi
Joyce Banda, President of Malawi.
Malawi is a democratic, multi-party government, currently under the leadership of Joyce Banda. The current constitution was put into place on May 18, 1995. The branches of the government consist of executive, legislative and judicialSony VAIO PCG-7171L battery. The executive includes a president who is both chief of state and head of government, first and second vice presidents and a cabinet. The president is elected every five years, and the vice president is elected with the president. A second vice president may be appointed by the president if she so chooses, although they must be from a different partySony VAIO PCG-7162L battery. The members of the cabinet are appointed by the president and can be from either inside or outside of the legislature.
The legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly of 193 members who are elected every five years, and although the Malawian constitution provides for a Senate of 80 seats, one does not exist in practice. If created, the Senate would provide representation for traditional leaders and a variety of geographic districtsSony VAIO PCG-7161L battery, as well as special interest groups including the disabled, youth and women. The independent judicial branch is based upon the English model and consists of a constitutional court, a High Court, a Supreme Court of Appeal and subordinate Magistrate Courts. There are currently nine political parties, with the Democratic Progressive Party acting as the ruling party andSony VAIO PCG-7154L battery the Malawi Congress Party and the United Democratic Front acting as the main opposition parties in the National Assembly. Suffrage is universal at 18 years of age, and the central government budget for 2009/2010 is $1.7 billion.
Malawi is composed of three regions (the Northern, Central and Southern regions), which are divided into 28 districts, and further into approximately 250 traditional authorities and 110 administrative wards. Sony VAIO PCG-7153L battery Local government is administered by central government-appointed regional administrators and district commissioners. For the first time in the multi-party era, local elections took place on November 21, 2000, with the UDF party winning 70% of the available seats. There was scheduled to be a second round of constitutionally mandated local elections in May 2005, but these were canceled by the government. Sony VAIO PCG-7152L battery
In February 2005, President Mutharika split with the United Democratic Front and began his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party, which has attracted reform-minded officials from other parties and is winning elections across the country as of 2006. As of 2008, President Mutharika has implemented reforms to address the country's major corruption problemSony VAIO PCG-7151L battery, with at least five senior UDF party members facing criminal charges. In 2008, Malawi was ranked 11th of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, an index that measures several variables to provide a comprehensive view of the governance of African countriesSony VAIO PCG-7148L battery.
Main article: Foreign relations of Malawi
Former President Hastings Banda established a pro-Western foreign policy that continued into early 2011. It included good diplomatic relationships with many Western countries. The transition from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy strengthened Malawian ties with the United States. Significant numbers of students from Malawi travel to the US for schoolingSony VAIO VGN-CS33H battery, and the US has active branches of the Peace Corps, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agency for International Development in Malawi. Malawi maintained close relations with South Africa throughout the Apartheid era, which strained Malawi's relationships with other African countries. Following the collapse of apartheid in 1994Sony VAIO VGN-CS33H/Z battery, diplomatic relationships were made and maintained into 2011 between Malawi and all other African countries. In 2010, however, Malawi's relationship with Mozambique became strained, partially due to disputes over the use of the Zambezi River and an inter-country electrical grid. In 2007, Malawi established diplomatic ties with China, and Chinese investment in the country has continued to increase since thenSony VAIO VGN-CS33H/B battery, despite concerns regarding treatment of workers by Chinese companies and competition of Chinese business with local companies. In 2011, relations between Malawi and the United Kingdom was damaged when a document was released in which the British ambassador
Locations of Malawian diplomatic embassies or high commissions as of 2012
Malawi has been seen as a haven for refugees from other African countries, including Mozambique and Rwanda, since 1985. These influxes of refugees have placed a strain on the Malawian economy but have also drawn significant inflows of aid from other countries. Donors to Malawi include the United States, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Japan, the NetherlandsSony VAIO VGN-CS31S/V battery, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, the UK and Flanders (Belgium), as well as international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the African Development Bank and UN organizations.
Malawi is a member of several international organizations including the UN and some of its child agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, the African Union and the World Health Organization. Malawi tends to view economic and political stability in southern Africa as a necessity, and advocates peaceful solutions through negotiationSony VAIO VGN-CS31S/T battery. The country was the first in southern Africa to receive peacekeeping training under the African Crisis Response Initiative.
As of 2010, international observers noted issues in several human rights areas. Excessive force was seen to be used by police forces, security forces were able to act with impunity, mob violence was occasionally seen, and prison conditions continued to be harsh and sometimes life threateningSony VAIO VGN-CS31S/R battery. However, the government was seen to make some effort to prosecute security forces who used excessive force. Other legal issues included limits on free speech and freedom of the press, lengthy pretrial detentions, and arbitrary arrests and detentions. Societal issues found included violence against women, human trafficking and child labor. Corruption within the government is seen as a major issueSony VAIO VGN-CS31S/P battery, despite the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) attempts to reduce it. The ACB appears to be successful at finding and prosecuting low level corruption, but higher level officials appear to be able to act with impunity. Corruption within security forces is also an issue.
As of 2010, homosexuality was illegal in Malawi, and in one recent case, a couple perceived as homosexual faced extensive jail time when convicted. Sony VAIO VGN-CS28 battery The convicted pair, sentenced to the maximum of 14 years of hard labor each, were pardoned two weeks later following the intervention of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In May 2012,President Joyce Banda pledged to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality.
Main article: Geography of Malawi
See also: List of cities in MalawiSony VAIO VGN-CS28/Q battery
Malawi is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique to the south, southwest and southeast. It lies between latitudes 9° and 18°S, and longitudes 32° and 36°E.
The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa) Sony VAIO VGN-CS27 battery, making up over three-quarters of Malawi's eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587 km) long and 52 miles (84 km) wide. The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 250 miles (400 km) farther south in Mozambique. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 1,500 feet (457 m) above sea levelSony VAIO VGN-CS27/W battery, with a maximum depth of 2,300 feet (701 m), which means the lake bottom is over 700 feet (213 m) below sea level at some points.
In the mountainous sections of Malawi surrounding the Rift Valley, plateaus rise generally 3,000 to 4,000 feet (914 to 1,219 m) above sea level, although some rise as high as 8,000 feet (2,438 m) in the north. To the south of Lake Malawi lie the Shire Highlands, gently rolling land at approximately 3,000 feet (914 m) above sea levelSony VAIO VGN-CS27/R battery. In this area, the Zomba and Mulanje mountain peaks rise to respective heights of 7,000 feet (2,134 m) and 10,000 feet (3,048 m).
Malawi's capital is Lilongwe, and its commercial centre is Blantyre with a population of over 500,000 people. Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006. Sony VAIO VGN-CS27/P battery
Malawi's climate is hot in the low-lying areas in the south of the country and temperate in the northern highlands. The altitude moderates what would be an otherwise equatorial climate. Between November and April the temperature is warm with equatorial rains and thunderstorms, with the storms reaching their peak severity in late MarchSony VAIO VGN-CS27/C battery. After March, the rainfall rapidly diminishes and from May to September wet mists float from the highlands into the plateaus, with almost no rainfall during these months.
Main article: Economy of Malawi
See also: Malawian food crisis
Crafts market in Lilongwe
Malawi is among the world's least-developed and most-densely populated countries. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas. The economy is based on agriculture, and more than one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues come from this. In the past, the economy has been dependent on substantial economic aid from the World BankSony VAIO VGN-CS26T/T battery, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other countries.
In December 2000, the IMF stopped aid disbursements due to corruption concerns, and many individual donors followed suit, resulting in an almost 80% drop in Malawi's development budget. However, in 2005, Malawi was the recipient of over US$575 million in aidSony VAIO VGN-CS26T/Q battery. The Malawian government faces challenges in developing a market economy, improving environmental protection, dealing with the rapidly growing HIV/AIDS problem, improving the education system, and satisfying its foreign donors that it is working to become financially independent. Improved financial discipline had been seen since 2005 under the leadership of President Mutharika and Financial Minister GondweSony VAIO VGN-CS26T/P battery. This discipline has since evaporated as shown by the purchase in 2009 of a private presidential jet followed almost immediately by a nationwide fuel shortage which was officially blamed on logistical problems, but was more likely due to the hard currency shortage caused by the jet purchase. The overall cost to the economy (and healthcare system) is unknownSony VAIO VGN-CS23G/Q battery.
Graphical depiction of Malawi's product exports in 28 color coded categories.
In addition, some setbacks have been experienced, and Malawi has lost some of its ability to pay for imports due to a general shortage of foreign exchange, as investment fell 23% in 2009. There are many investment barriers in Malawi, which the government has failed to address, including high service costs and poor infrastructure for power, water, and telecommunicationsSony VAIO VGN-CS23G/P battery. As of 2009, it was estimated that Malawi had a GDP (purchasing power parity) of $12.81 billion, with a per capita GDP of $900, and inflation estimated at around 8.5% in 2009.
Agriculture accounts for 35% of GDP, industry for 19% and services for the remaining 46%. Malawi has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, although economic growth was estimated at 9.7% in 2008 and strong growth is predicted by the International Monetary Fund for 2009Sony VAIO VGN-CS21Z/Q battery. The poverty rate in Malawi is decreasing through the work of the government and supporting organizations, with people living under the poverty line decreasing from 54% in 1990 to 40% in 2006, and the percentage of "ultra-poor" decreasing from 24% in 1990 to 15% in 2007.
Malawi was ranked the 119th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings. Sony VAIO VGN-CS21S/T battery
Agriculture and industry
Main article: Agriculture in Malawi
Harvesting groundnuts at an agricultural research station in Malawi
The main agricultural products of Malawi include tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, sorghum, cattle and goats. The main industries are tobacco, tea and sugar processing, sawmill products, cement and consumer goods. The industrial production growth rate is estimated at 10% (2009). The country makes no significant use of natural gas. As of 2008Sony VAIO VGN-CS21S/R battery, Malawi does not import or export any electricity, but does import all its petroleum, with no production in country. Beginning in 2006, the country began mixing unleaded petrol with 10% ethanol, produced in-country at two plants, to reduce dependence on imported fuel. In 2008, Malawi began testing cars that ran solely on ethanol, and initial results are promising, and the country is continuing to increase its use of ethanol. Sony VAIO VGN-CS21S/P battery
As of 2009, Malawi exports an estimated US$945 million in goods per year. The country's heavy reliance on tobacco places a heavy burden on the economy as world prices decline and the international community increases pressure to limit tobacco production. Malawi's dependence on tobacco is growing, with the product jumping from 53% to 70% of export revenues between 2007 and 2008Sony VAIO VGN-CS16T/P battery. The country also relies heavily on tea, sugar and coffee, with these three plus tobacco making up more than 90% of Malawi's export revenue. Because of a rise in costs and a decline in sales prices, Malawi is encouraging farmers away from tobacco towards more profitable crops, including spices such as paprika. India hemp is another possible alternativeSony VAIO VGN-CS13T/W battery, but arguments have been made that it will bring more crime to the country through its resemblance to varieties of cannabis used as a recreational drug and the difficulty in distinguishing between the two types. This concern is especially important because the cultivation of Malawian cannabis, known as Malawi Gold, as a drug has increased significantly. Sony VAIO VGN-CS13H/W battery Malawi is known for growing "the best and finest" cannabis in the world for recreational drug use, according to a recent World Bank report, and cultivation and sales of the crop may contribute to corruption within the police force.
Other exported goods are cotton, peanuts, wood products and apparel. The main destination locations for the country's exports are South Africa, Germany, Egypt, Zimbabwe, the United States, Russia and the NetherlandsSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/R battery. Malawi currently imports an estimated US$1.625 billion in goods per year, with the main commodities being food, petroleum products, consumer goods and transportation equipment. The main countries that Malawi imports from are South Africa, India, Zambia, Tanzania, the US and China.
In 2006, in response to disastrously low agricultural harvestsSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/Q battery, Malawi began a program of fertilizer subsidies that were designed to re-energize the land and boost crop production. It has been reported that this program, championed by the country's president, is radically improving Malawi's agriculture, and causing Malawi to become a net exporter of food to nearby countries. Sony VAIO VGN-CS13H/P battery
Main articles: Transport in Malawi, Rail transport in Malawi, and Communications in Malawi
The M1 road between Blantyre and Lilongwe
As of 2009, Malawi has 32 airports, 6 with paved runways and 26 with unpaved runways. The country has 495 miles (797 km) of railways, all narrow-gauge, and 9,601 miles (15,451 km) of roadways, 4,322 miles (6,956 km) paved and 5,279 miles (8,496 km) unpaved. Malawi also has 435 miles (700 km) of waterways on Lake Malawi and along the Shire River. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/T battery
As of 2010, there were 3.038 million cell phones, up from 1.781 million in 2008. As of 2008, there were 236,000 land line telephones in Malawi. There were 716, 400 Internet users in 2010 (up from 316,100 Internet users as of 2008), and 1092 Internet hosts as of 2010. As of 2001 there were 14 radio stations and 1 TV station. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q battery In the past, Malawi's telecommunications system has been named as some of the poorest in Africa, but conditions are improving, with 130,000 land line telephones being connected between 2000 and 2007. Telephones are much more accessible in urban areas, with less than a quarter of land lines being in rural areasSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P battery.
Malawi has a population of over 15 million, with a growth rate of 2.75%, according to 2009 estimates. The population is forecast to grow to over 45 million people by 2050, nearly tripling the estimated 16 million in 2010.
Malawi's population is made up of the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni and Ngonde native ethnic groups, as well as populations of Asians and Europeans(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H battery). Major languages include English, an official language, Chichewa spoken by over 57% of the population, Chinyanja (12.8%), Chiyao (10.1%) and Chitumbuka (9.5%).
Other native languages are Malawian Lomwe, spoken by around 250,000 in the southeast of the country; Kokola, spoken by around 200,000 people also in the southeast; Lambya, spoken by around 45,000 in the northwestern tip; Ndali, spoken by around 70,000; Nyakyusa-Ngonde, spoken by around 300,000 in northern Malawi(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B battery); Malawian Sena, spoken by around 270,000 in southern Malawi; and Tonga, spoken by around 170,000 in the north.
Further information: Bahá'í Faith in Malawi, Christianity in Malawi, Roman Catholicism in Malawi, and Islam in Malawi
9 to 10 year old boys of the waYao tribe participating in circumcision and initiation rites.
According to 2007 estimates, approximately 80% of the population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian making up the largest Christian groups. There are also smaller numbers of Anglicans(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B battery), Baptists, evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists. Around 13% of the population is Muslim, with most of the Muslim population being Sunni, of either the Qadriya or Sukkutu groups. Other religious groups within the country include Rastafarians, Hindus, Baha'is (0.2%) and around 300 Jews. Atheists make up around 4% of the population, although this number may include people who practice traditional African religions. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW19/Q battery)
Main article: Healthcare in Malawi
Malawi has central hospitals, regional and private facilities. The public sector offers free health services and medicines, while non-government organizations offers services and medicines for fees. Private doctors offer fee-based services and medicines. Health insurance schemes have been established since 2000. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW19 battery)The country has a pharmaceutical manufacturing industry consisting of four privately owned pharmaceutical companies. Malawi's healthcare goal is for "promoting health, preventing, reducing and curing disease, and reducing the occurrence of premature death in the population".
Infant mortality rates are high, and life expectancy at birth is 50.03 years. There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 930,000 adults (or 11.9% of the population) (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21M/H battery) living with the disease in 2007. There are approximately 68,000 deaths a year from HIV/AIDS (2007). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients. The high rate of infection has resulted in an estimated 5.8% of the farm labor force dying of the disease(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21S/B battery). The government spends over $120,000 each year on funerals for civil servants who die of the disease. In 2006, international superstar Madonna started Raising Malawi, a foundation that helps AIDS orphans in Malawi, and also financed a documentary about the hardships experienced by Malawian orphans, called I Am Because We Are. Raising Malawi also works with the Millennium Villages Project to improve education, health care, infrastructure and agriculture in Malawi(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21VY/Q battery).
There is a very high degree of risk for major infectious diseases, including bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, plague, schistosomiasis and rabies. Malawi has been making progress on decreasing child mortality and reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; however, the country has been "[performing] dismally" on reducing maternal mortality and promoting gender equality(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q battery).
Main article: Education in Malawi
In Malawi, primary education is not compulsory, but the Constitution requires that all people be entitled to at least five years of primary education. In 1994, free primary education for all children was established by the government, which increased attendance rates. Dropout rates are higher for girls than boys, attributed to security problems during the long travel to school(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21Z/B battery), as girls face a higher prevalence of gender-based violence. However, attendance rates for all children are improving, with enrollment rates for primary schools increased from 58% in 1992 to 75% in 2007, while the number of students who begin in grade one and complete grade five has increased from 64% in 1992 to 86% in 2006. Youth literacy has also increased(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31M/H battery), moving from 68% in 2000 to 82% in 2007. This increase is primarily attributed to improved learning materials in schools, better infrastructure and feeding programs that have been implemented throughout the school system.
Main article: Malawian Defence Force
Malawi maintains a small standing military of approximately 25,000 men, the Malawian Defence Force. It consists of army, navy and air force elements(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31S/B battery). The Malawi army originated from British colonial units formed before independence, and is now made up of two rifle regiments and one parachute regiment. The Malawi Air Force was established with German help in 1976, and operates a small number of transport aircraft and multi-purpose helicopters. The Malawian Navy has 3 vessels operating on Lake Malawi, based in Monkey Bay(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31XY/Q battery).
A Malawi man playing a xylophone
See also: Music of Malawi
The name "Malawi" comes from the Maravi, a Bantu people who immigrated from the southern Congo around 1400 AD. Upon reaching northern Lake Malawi, the group divided, with one group moving south down the west bank of the lake to become the group known as the Chewa, while the other group, the ancestors of today's Nyanja(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H battery), moved along the east side of the lake to the southern section of Malawi. Ethnic conflict and continuing migration prevented the formation of a society that was uniquely and cohesively Malawian until the dawn of the 20th century. Over the past century, ethnic distinctions have diminished to the point where there is no significant inter-ethnic friction(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF battery), although regional divisions still occur. The concept of a Malawian nationality has begun to form around a predominantly rural people who are generally conservative and traditionally nonviolent.
From 1964–2010, the Flag of Malawi was made up of three equal horizontal stripes of black, red and green with a red rising sun superimposed in the center of the black stripe. The black stripe represented the African people(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H battery), the red represented the blood of martyrs for African freedom, green represented Malawi's ever-green nature and the rising sun represented the dawn of freedom and hope for Africa. In 2010, the flag was changed, removing the red rising sun and adding a full white sun in the center as a symbol of Malawi's economic progress(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF battery).
A strong part of Malawi's culture are its dances, and the National Dance Troupe (formerly the Kwacha Cultural Troupe) was formed in November 1987 by the government. Traditional music and dances can be seen at initiation rites, rituals, marriage ceremonies and celebrations. Soccer is the most common sport in Malawi, introduced there during British colonial rule. Basketball is also growing in popularity(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q battery).
The indigenous ethnic groups of Malawi have a rich tradition of basketry and mask carving, and some of these goods are used in traditional ceremonies still performed by native peoples. Wood carving and oil painting are also popular in more urban centers, with many of the items produced being sold to tourists. There are several internationally recognized literary figures from Malawi(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH battery), including poet Jack Mapanje, history and fiction writer Paul Zeleza and authors Legson Kayira, Felix Mnthali, Frank Chipasula and David Rubadiri.