In 2002, Malawi had 797 km (495 mi) of railways. The main line of the rail system consists of a single track of 3'6" gauge running from Salima to Nsanje, a distance of 439 km (273 mi), and operated by Malawi Railways. The line was extended from Salima to Lilongwe in 1977 and was later extended to Mchinji, on the border with Zambia. At Chipoka, 32 km (20 mi) south of Salima, the railway connects with the Lake Malawi steamer service, also operated by Malawi Railways. The railway line extends, in the south, from Nsanje to the port of Beira in Mozambique. The Central African Railway Co., a subsidiary of Malawi Railways, operates the 26 km (16 mi) span from Nsanje to the Mozambique border. Malawi Railways was privatized in 1999.
In 2002, Malawi had an estimated 14,594 km (9,069 mi) of roads, of which 2,773 km (1,723 mi) were paved. In 2000, there were 80,100 motor vehicles, of which 22,500 were passenger cars, and the remaining 57,600 were commercial vehicles.
Until 1982, about 95% of Malawi's foreign trade passed through Mozambican ports, mainly by rail connections, but by 1987, because of insurgent activity in Mozambique, over 95% of Malawi's exports were moving through South Africa's port of Durban. The use of this longer route, with only road transport through Malawi, was costing $50 million a year in extra transport expenses. Since 1990, when Mozambican rebels closed down the route, goods have been shipped through Zambia. As of 1999, major Malawi ports and harbors include Chipoka, Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, and Nkhotakota.
Airports in 2001 numbered 44, only 6 of which had paved runways. Malawi's principal airports include Kamuzu International Airport, at Lilongwe, and Chileka, at Blantyre. International and domestic air service is provided by Air Malawi, the national airline, established in 1967. National carriers to some other countries in the region operate complementary services to Malawi. There are no direct services to Asia and the Pacific or the Americas. In 2001, 112,600 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.