Malawi is among the world's least developed countries, with most of the population involved in subsistence agriculture. The principal crops are corn, potatoes, cassava, sorghum, pulses, peanuts, and macadamia nuts. Tobacco, tea, sugarcane, cotton, and tung oil are produced on large estates; tobacco grown for export is particularly import to the economy. With the aid in part of foreign investment, Malawi has instituted a variety of agricultural development programs. Large numbers of cattle, goats, poultry, and pigs are raised.
There are small fishing and forest products industries. Deforestation has become a problem as the growing population uses more wood (the major energy source) and woodland is cleared for farms. Practically no minerals are extracted, but there are unexploited deposits of uranium, coal, and bauxite. Malawi's industry is limited to the processing of tobacco, tea, sugar, and lumber and the manufacture of basic comsumer goods.
Leading imports are foodstuffs, petroleum products, manufactured consumer goods, and transportation equipment; the principal exports are tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, wood products, and apparel. The chief trade partners are South Africa, the United States, and Mozambique. Most of the country's foreign trade is conducted via Salima, a port on Lake Nyasa, which is connected by rail with the seaport of Nacala in Mozambique.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.