At first glance, Malawi does not appear as poor as it is said to be. Roads are generally paved and smooth, without the annoying speed bumps and rumble strips of past places. The people are friendly and once again it's nice to be able to communicate in English, which along with Chichewa is an official language.
However, the GNP is less than $250 US, half of the country is malnourished and life expectancy is 53, mainly due to HIV/AIDS which is at 12%. One out of 8 children die of preventable causes. The population is 16.3 million, of which half is under 15, living in 118,000 square km. and growing at 2.8% / year. That makes it one of the highest population densities on the continent although I would never guess that because villages are few and far between, at least compared to Tanzania where there seems to be one right after another. 85% of the people work in agriculture, growing maize - which is NOT sweet corn, cassava, rice and tobacco which alone, makes up 35% of the GDP as well as 90% of export revenues. All arable land appears to be planted and well looked after, with crops in various stages of growth. Once again, most land is tilled by hand - hoes and / or the occasional cow.
A large part of the country is based around huge Lake Malawi where more than 500 species of fish can be found , most belonging to the cichlid family. 99% are endemic to this lake. Popular ones include the chambo which is very tasty :) and utaka.
There is no Coke Zero or even Diet Coke. It's hard to find Diet Pepsi but it's possible. Food is reasonably priced however gas is $1.43/litre but once again, most don't own a car. Souvenirs are wood objects- masks, salad spoons, key chains - all kinds of trinketry stuff.
As per usual, the people are friendly and kind and Malawi is a great country to just hang out in while enjoying the shores of the lake.