Facts about Madagascar

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MadagascarFormerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. RAVALOMANANA is now in his second term following a landslide victory in the generally free and fair presidential elections of 2006.

Geography of Madagascar

Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique
20 00 S, 47 00 E
total: 587,040 sq km
water: 5,500 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Arizona
Land boundaries:
0 km
4,828 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or 100 NM from the 2,500-m deep isobath
tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south
narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m
Natural resources:
graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower
Natural hazards:
periodic cyclones
Environment current issues:
soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several species of flora and fauna unique to the island are endangered
Geography - note:
world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel

Population of Madagascar

20,042,552 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.8% (male 4,171,821/female 4,158,288)
15-64 years: 52.2% (male 4,809,173/female 4,900,675)
65 years and over: 3% (male 249,414/female 306,098)
Median age:
17.5 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
75.21 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 57.34 years
male: 54.93 years
female: 59.82 years
Fertility rate:
5.62 children born/woman
noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)
adjective: Malagasy
Ethnic groups:
Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
French (official), Malagasy (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68.9%
male: 75.5%
female: 62.5% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
former: Malagasy Republic
local long form: Republique de Madagascar
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara
26 June 1960 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 26 June (1960)
19 August 1992 by national referendum
Legal system:
based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Marc RAVALOMANANA (since 6 May 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Charles RABEMANANJARA (25 January 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 3 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2011); prime minister appointed by the president.
Legislative branch:
bicameral legislature consists of a National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (160 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and a Senate or Senat (100 seats; two-thirds of the seats filled by regional assemblies whose members will be elected by popular vote; the remaining one-third of the seats appointed by the president; all members will serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle
Political parties and leaders:
Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar or AREMA [Pierrot RAJAONARIVO]; Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery or LEADER/Fanilo [Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO]; Fihaonana Party or FP [Guy-Willy RAZANAMASY]; I Love Madagascar or TIM [Marc RAVALOMANANA]; Renewal of the Social Democratic Party or RPSD [Evariste MARSON]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Committee for the Defense of Truth and Justice or KMMR; Committee for National Reconciliation or CRN [Albert Zafy]; National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM


Having discarded past socialist economic policies, Madagascar has since the mid 1990s followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization. This strategy placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population. Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the US. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns. President RAVALOMANANA has worked aggressively to revive the economy following the 2002 political crisis, which triggered a 12% drop in GDP that year. Poverty reduction and combating corruption will be the centerpieces of economic policy for the next few years.

$18.44 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 27.6%
industry: 16.5%
services: 55.9%
Inflation rate:
revenues: $703.6 million
expenditures: $853 million
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 36.1%
hydro: 63.9%
other: 0% 
meat processing, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism
coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts; livestock products
coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar; cotton cloth, chromite, petroleum products
Export partners:
France 30.7%, US 30.1%, Germany 8.7% 
capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food
Import partners:
France 16.6%, China 10.6%, Iran 7.3%, Mauritius 6.7%, South Africa 6.1%, Hong Kong 5% 
Malagasy franc (MGF)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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