||Ry Tanindrazanay malala ô! (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)
|| Malagasy / French
||587,041 km2, 226,597 sq mi
||~ 21 million
|| Malagasy ariary (MGA)
Madagascar, or Republic of Madagascar, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
Madagascar is divided into six autonomous provinces, and subdivided into 22 regions. The city of Antananarivo is the political and economic capital and the largest city of Madagascar. The city has a population of 903,450.
Society and culture
Malagasy culture reflects a blend
of Southeast Asian, Arab, African and European influences.
Madagascar's population is predominantly
of mixed Austronesian (i.e. South-East Asian/Pacific Islander) and African origin. Those who are visibly Austronesian in appearance and culture are the minority, found mostly in the highland regions. Recent research suggests that the island was uninhabited
until Austronesian seafarers arrived about 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. Subsequent
migrations from the East Indies and Africa consolidated
this mixture, and 36 separate tribal groups emerged
In the Constitution of 2007, Malagasy remains the national language while two other official languages are reintroduced: French and English. The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin and is generally spoken throughout the island. French is spoken among the educated population of this former French colony
. English, although still rare, is becoming more widely spoken.
The main religions are Malagasy mythology and Christianity but there also minorities of other religions, most significantly Islam. Approximately 50% of the country's population practise Malagasy mythology
. About 45% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants. Islam in Madagascar constitutes 10 – 15% of the population.
Government and politics
Although the present head of State is self-proclaimed
, Madagascar is usually a representative democratic republic. The Prime Minister of Madagascar is head of government and of a multi-party system. Executive
power is exercised by the government. Legislative
power is vested in both the government and the Senate and the National Assembly. The Judiciary
is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay
of the economy. Major exports are coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock
products. Madagascar is the world's largest producer and exporter of vanilla. Besides agricultural products, Madagascar's sources of growth are tourism, textile and light manufacturing exports and mining.