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This article is about the island country. For the

computer-animated lm, see Madagascar (2005 lm).
For other uses, see Madagascar (disambiguation) and

tutional governance was restored in January 2014, when

Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the
international community. Madagascar is a member of
the United Nations, the Organisation internationale de
Madagascar (/mdskr/ ; Malagasy: Mada- la francophonie and the Southern African Development
gasikara), ocially the Republic of Madagascar Community
(Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara [republikan In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated
madaaskar]; French: Rpublique de Madagascar), at just over 22 million, 90% of whom live on less than
and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an $2 per day. Malagasy and French are both ocial lanisland country in the Indian Ocean, o the coast of guages of the state. The majority of the population adSoutheast Africa. The nation comprises the island of heres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgaMadagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as mation of both. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with
well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following greater investments in education, health, and private enthe prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, terprise, are key elements of Madagascars development
Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 strategy. Under Ravalomanana, these investments promillion years ago, allowing native plants and animals to duced substantial economic growth, but the benets were
evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is not evenly spread throughout the population, producing
a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found tensions over the increasing cost of living and declining
nowhere else on Earth. The islands diverse ecosystems living standards among the poor and some segments of
and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment the middle class. As of 2014, the economy has been
of the rapidly growing human population and other envi- weakened by the recently concluded political crisis, and
quality of life remains low for the majority of the Malaronmental threats.
gasy population.
The rst archaeological evidence for human foraging on
Madagascar dates to 2000 BC. Human settlement of
Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and AD 550 by
Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from
Borneo. These were joined around AD 1000 by Bantu
migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East
Africa. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar 1 Etymology
over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into 18 or more sub-groups of which the largest are In the Malagasy language, the island of Madagascar
the Merina of the central highlands.
is called Madagasikara [madaaskar] and its people
are referred to as Malagasy.[4] The islands appellation
Madagascar is not of local origin, but rather was popularized in the Middle Ages by Europeans.[10] The name
Madageiscar was rst recorded in the memoirs of 13thcentury Venetian explorer Marco Polo as a corrupted
transliteration of the name Mogadishu, the Somali port
with which Polo had confused the island.[11]

Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar

was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting sociopolitical alliances. Beginning in the early 19th century, most of the island was united and ruled as the
Kingdom of Madagascar by a series of Merina nobles.
The monarchy collapsed in 1897 when the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire, from which the
island gained independence in 1960. The autonomous
state of Madagascar has since undergone four major constitutional periods, termed republics. Since 1992, the
nation has ocially been governed as a constitutional
democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However,
in a popular uprising in 2009, president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was
transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina. Consti-

On St. Laurence's Day in 1500, Portuguese explorer

Diogo Dias landed on the island and christened it So
Loureno.[11] Polos name was preferred and popularized
on Renaissance maps.[11] No single Malagasy-language
name predating Madagasikara appears to have been used
by the local population to refer to the island, although
some communities had their own name for part or all of
the land they inhabited.[11]


Main article: Geography of Madagascar


characterized by desert and spiny forests (right).

Madagascars highest peaks rise from three prominent
highland massifs: Maromokotro 2,876 m (9,436 ft) in the
Tsaratanana Massif is the islands highest point, followed
by Boby Peak 2,658 m (8,720 ft) in the Andringitra Massif, and Tsiafajavona 2,643 m (8,671 ft) in the Ankaratra
Massif. To the east, the Canal des Pangalanes is a chain
of man-made and natural lakes connected by canals built
by the French just inland from the east coast and running
parallel to it for some 600 km (370 mi).[16]The

terraced paddy elds of the central highlands of MadaThe western and southern sides, which lie in the rain
gascar (left) give way to tropical rainforest along the
shadow of the central highlands, are home to dry decideastern coast (center) bordered by the shores of the
uous forests, spiny forests, and deserts and xeric shrubIndian Ocean (right).
lands. Due to their lower population densities, Madagascars dry deciduous forests have been better preserved
At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi),[12] Mada- than the eastern rain forests or the original woodlands of
gascar is the worlds 46th largest country[5] and the the central plateau. The western coast features many profourth-largest island.[12] The country lies mostly be- tected harbors, but silting is a major problem caused by
tween latitudes 12S and 26S, and longitudes 43E and sediment from the high levels of inland erosion carried by
51E.[13] Neighboring islands include the French territory rivers crossing the broad western plains.[16]
of Runion and the country of Mauritius to the east, as
well as the state of Comoros and the French territory of
Mayotte to the north west. The nearest mainland state is 2.1 Climate
Mozambique, located to the west.
The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana
separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass
from the Africa-South America landmass around 135
million years ago. Madagascar later split from India
about 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals
on the island to evolve in relative isolation.[14] Along
the length of the eastern coast runs a narrow and steep
escarpment containing much of the islands remaining
tropical lowland forest.

Madagascar map of Kppen climate classication

To the west of this ridge lies a plateau in the center of the

island ranging in altitude from 750 to 1,500 m (2,460 to
4,920 ft) above sea level. These central highlands, traditionally the homeland of the Merina people and the location of their historic capital at Antananarivo, are the
most densely populated part of the island and are characterized by terraced, rice-growing valleys lying between
grassy hills and patches of the subhumid forests that formerly covered the highland region. To the west of the
highlands, the increasingly arid terrain gradually slopes A Kppen climate classication map of Madagascar.
down to the Mozambique Channel and mangrove swamps
along the coast.[15]
See also: Geography of Madagascar Climate
The combination of southeastern trade winds and
northwestern monsoons produces a hot rainy season
(NovemberApril) with frequently destructive cyclones,
and a relatively cooler dry season (MayOctober). Rain
clouds originating over the Indian Ocean discharge much
The coast; the heavy
of their moisture over the islands eastern
grassy plains that dominate the western landscape are precipitation supports the areas rain forest ecosystem.
dotted with stony massifs (left), patches of deciduous The central highlands are both drier and cooler while the
forest, and baobab trees (center), while the south is west is drier still, and a semi-arid climate prevails in the



Biogeographic timetable of Madagascar over the last 200 million


The islands iconic travellers palm (ravinala) features in the national emblem.

posed of four genera and 11 species, is limited to

the spiny forests of southwestern Madagascar.[15] Foursouthwest and southern interior of the island.[15]
fths of the worlds Pachypodium species are endemic to
Three-fourths[26] of Madagascars 860[24]
Tropical cyclones annually cause damage to infrastruc- the island.
alone, as are six of the
ture and local economies as well as loss of life.[17] In orchid species are found here
2004 Cyclone Galo became the strongest cyclone ever
recorded to hit Madagascar. The storm killed 172 people, The island is home to around 170 palm species, three
left 214,260 homeless[18] and caused more than US$250 times as many as on all of mainland Africa; 165 of them
million in damage.[19]
are endemic.[26] Many native plant species are used as
herbal remedies for a variety of aictions. The drugs
vinblastine and vincristine, used to treat Hodgkins dis2.2 Ecology
ease, leukemia and other cancers, were derived from the
Madagascar periwinkle.[28] The travelers palm, known
Main articles: Wildlife of Madagascar, Flora of Mada- locally as ravinala[29] and endemic to the eastern rain
gascar, Fauna of Madagascar, Agroecology in Madagas- forests,[30] is highly iconic of Madagascar and is featured
car, Ecoregions of Madagascar and List of World Her- in the national emblem as well as the Air Madagascar
itage Sites in Madagascar
As a result of the islands long isolation from neighbor- Like its ora, Madagascars fauna is diverse and exhibits a
ing continents, Madagascar is home to an abundance of high rate of endemism. Lemurs have been characterized
plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.[20][21] as Madagascars agship mammal species by ConserApproximately 90% of all plant and animal species found vation International.[20] In the absence of monkeys and
in Madagascar are endemic,[22] including the lemurs (a other competitors, these primates have adapted to a wide
type of strepsirrhine primate), the carnivorous fossa and range of habitats and diversied into numerous species.
many birds. This distinctive ecology has led some ecolo- As of 2012, there were ocially 103 species and subgists to refer to Madagascar as the eighth continent,[23] species of lemur,[33] 39 of which were described by zoand the island has been classied by Conservation Inter- ologists between 2000 and 2008.[34] They are almost all
national as a biodiversity hotspot.[20]
classied as rare, vulnerable, or endangered. At least 17
More than 80 percent of Madagascars 14,883 plant species of lemur have become extinct since man arrived
species are found nowhere else in the world, including on Madagascar, all of which were larger than the survivve plant families.[24] The family Didiereaceae, com- ing lemur species.[35]


2,350 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90 percent of its original forest.[39] This forest loss is largely
fueled by tavy (fat), a traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practice imported to Madagascar by the earliest settlers.[40] Malagasy farmers embrace and perpetuate
the practice not only for its practical benets as an agricultural technique, but for its cultural associations with
prosperity, health and venerated ancestral custom (fomba
As human population density rose on the island, deforestation accelerated beginning around 1400 years ago.[42]
By the 16th century, the central highlands had been
More recent
The ring-tailed lemur is one of over 100 known species and sub- largely cleared of their original forests.
contributors to the loss of forest cover include the growth
species of lemur found only in Madagascar.
in cattle herd size since their introduction around 1000
years ago, a continued reliance on charcoal as a fuel for
A number of other mammals, including the cat-like cooking, and the increased prominence of coee as a
fossa, are endemic to Madagascar. Over 300 species cash crop over the past century.[43]
of birds have been recorded on the island, of which
over 60 percent (including four families and 42 genera) According to a conservative estimate, about 40 percent of
are endemic.[20] The few families and genera of reptile the islands original forest cover was lost from the 1950s
with a thinning of remaining forest areas by 80
that have reached Madagascar have diversied into more to 2000,[44]
In addition to traditional agricultural practice,
than 260 species, with over 90 percent of these being
is challenged by the illicit harvest[36]
(including one endemic family).
The ising
as well as the state-sanctioned
land is home to two-thirds of the worlds chameleon
within national parks. Al[36]
including the smallest known,
and rethough
Marc Ravalomanana
searchers have proposed that Madagascar may be the orifrom
small quantities of
gin of all chameleons.
precious timber from national parks was re-authorized in
Endemic sh of Madagascar include two families, 15 January 2009 and dramatically intensied under the adgenera and over 100 species, primarily inhabiting the ministration of Andry Rajoelina as a key source of state
islands freshwater lakes and rivers. Although inverte- revenues to oset cuts in donor support following Ravalbrates remain poorly studied on Madagascar, researchers omananas ouster.[45]
have found high rates of endemism among the known
species. All 651 species of terrestrial snail are endemic, It is anticipated that all the islands rainforests, excluding
as are a majority of the islands butteries, scarab beetles, those in protected areas and the steepest eastern
lacewings, spiders and dragonies.[20]
species have likewise been introduced by human populations. Following the 2014 discovery in Madagascar of
the Asian common toad, a relative of a toad species that
2.3 Environmental issues
has severely harmed wildlife in Australia since the 1930s,
Main articles: Deforestation in Madagascar and Illegal researchers warned the toad could wreak havoc on the
countrys unique fauna.[47]
logging in Madagascar
Habitat destruction and hunting have threatened many of
Madagascars endemic species or driven them to extinction. The islands elephant birds, a family of endemic
giant ratites, became extinct in the 17th century or earlier, most probably due to human hunting of adult birds
and poaching of their large eggs for food.[48] Numerous
giant lemur species vanished with the arrival of human
settlers to the island, while others became extinct over
the course of the centuries as a growing human populaTavy
tion put greater pressures on lemur habitats and, among
(slash-and-burn) destruction of native forest habitat is
some populations, increased the rate of lemur hunting for
widespread (left), causing massive erosion (center) and
silting of rivers (right).
A July 2012 assessment found that the exploitation of
natural resources since the 2009 coup has had dire conMadagascars varied fauna and ora are endangered by
sequences for the islands wildlife: 90 percent of lemur
Since the arrival of humans around
human activity.


Arab and European contacts

species were found to be threatened with extinction, the

highest proportion of any mammalian group. Of these,
23 species were classied as critically endangered. By
contrast, a previous study in 2008 had found only 38 percent of lemur species were at risk of extinction.[33]
In 2003 Ravalomanana announced the Durban Vision,
an initiative to more than triple the islands protected
natural areas to over 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi) or 10
percent of Madagascars land surface. As of 2011, areas protected by the state included ve Strict Nature Reserves (Rserves Naturelles Intgrales), 21 Wildlife Reserves (Rserves Spciales) and 21 National Parks (Parcs
Nationaux).[50] In 2007 six of the national parks were
declared a joint World Heritage Site under the name
Rainforests of the Atsinanana. These parks are Marojejy,
Masoala, Ranomafana, Zahamena, Andohahela and
Andringitra.[51] Local timber merchants are harvesting
scarce species of rosewood trees from protected rainforests within Marojejy National Park and exporting the
wood to China for the production of luxury furniture
and musical instruments.[52] To raise public awareness
of Madagascars environmental challenges, the Wildlife
Conservation Society opened an exhibit entitled "Madagascar!" in June 2008 at the Bronx Zoo in New York.[53]


Main article: History of Madagascar


Early period

than 250 AD. In either case, these dates make Madagascar one of the last major landmasses on Earth to be settled
by humans.[56]
Early settlers arrived in outrigger canoes from southern
Borneo. Upon arrival, early settlers practiced slash-andburn agriculture to clear the coastal rainforests for cultivation. The rst settlers encountered Madagascars abundance of megafauna, including giant lemurs, elephant
birds, giant fossa and the Malagasy hippopotamus, which
have since become extinct due to hunting and habitat
destruction.[57] By 600 AD groups of these early settlers
had begun clearing the forests of the central highlands.[58]
Arab traders rst reached the island between the seventh
and ninth centuries.[59] A wave of Bantu-speaking migrants from southeastern Africa arrived around 1000 AD.
They introduced the zebu, a type of long-horned humped
cattle, which they kept in large herds.[40]
By 1600, irrigated paddy elds were developed in the
central highland Betsileo Kingdom, and were extended
with terraced paddies throughout the neighboring Kingdom of Imerina a century later.[58] The rising intensity
of land cultivation and the ever-increasing demand for
zebu pasturage had largely transformed the central highlands from a forest ecosystem to grassland by the 17th
century.[40] The oral histories of the Merina people, who
may have arrived in the central highlands between 600
and 1000 years ago, describe encountering an established
population they called the Vazimba. Probably the descendants of an earlier and less technologically advanced
Austronesian settlement wave, the Vazimba were assimilated or expelled from the highlands by the Merina kings
Andriamanelo, Ralambo and Andrianjaka in the 16th and
early 17th centuries.[60] Today, the spirits of the Vazimba
are revered as tompontany (ancestral masters of the land)
by many traditional Malagasy communities.[61]

3.2 Arab and European contacts

Malagasy ancestry reects a blend of Austronesian (Southeast

Asian) and Bantu (East African) roots.

The settlement of Madagascar is a subject of ongoing

research and debate. Archaeological nds such as cut
marks on bones found in the northwest and stone tools
in the northeast indicate that Madagascar was visited by
foragers around 2000 BC.[54][55] Traditionally, archaeologists have estimated that the earliest settlers arrived in
successive waves throughout the period between 350 BC
and 550 AD, while others are cautious about dates earlier

A pirate cemetery at le Sainte-Marie.

Madagascar was an important transoceanic trading hub

connecting ports of the Indian Ocean in the early centuries following human settlement. The written history of


Madagascar began with the Arabs, who established trading posts along the northwest coast by at least the 10th
century and introduced Islam, the Arabic script (used
to transcribe the Malagasy language in a form of writing known as sorabe), Arab astrology, and other cultural
elements.[17] European contact began in 1500, when the
Portuguese sea captain Diogo Dias sighted the island.[12]
The French established trading posts along the east coast
in the late 17th century.[17]
From about 1774 to 1824, Madagascar gained prominence among pirates and European traders, particularly
those involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The
small island of Nosy Boroha o the northeastern coast
of Madagascar has been proposed by some historians as
the site of the legendary pirate utopia of Libertalia.[62]
Many European sailors were shipwrecked on the coasts
of the island, among them Robert Drury, whose journal is one of the few written depictions of life in southern Madagascar during the 18th century.[63] The wealth
generated by maritime trade spurred the rise of organized kingdoms on the island, some of which had grown
quite powerful by the 17th century.[64] Among these were
the Betsimisaraka alliance of the eastern coast and the
Sakalava chiefdoms of Menabe and Boina on the west
coast. The Kingdom of Imerina, located in the central
highlands with its capital at the royal palace of Antananarivo, emerged at around the same time under the leadership of King Andriamanelo.[65]

King Andrianampoinimerina (17871810).

Radamas successor, Queen Ranavalona I (182861), responded to increasing political and cultural encroachment
on the part of Britain and France by issuing a royal edict
prohibiting the practice of Christianity in Madagascar
and pressuring most foreigners to leave the territory. Res3.3 Kingdom of Madagascar (15401897) idents of Madagascar could accuse one another of various crimes, including theft, Christianity and especially
witchcraft, for which the ordeal of tangena was routinely
Main article: Merina Kingdom
Upon its emergence in the early 17th century, the obligatory. Between 1828 and 1861,[69]the tangena ordeal
highland kingdom of Imerina was initially a mi- caused about 3,000 deaths annually.
nor power relative to the larger coastal kingdoms[65] Among those who continued to reside in Imerina were
and grew even weaker in the early 18th century Jean Laborde, an entrepreneur who developed munitions
when King Andriamasinavalona divided it among his and other industries on behalf of the monarchy, and
four sons. Following almost a century of warring Joseph-Franois Lambert, a French adventurer and slave
and famine, Imerina was reunited in 1793 by King trader, with whom then-Prince Radama II signed a conAndrianampoinimerina (17871810).[66] From his initial troversial trade agreement termed the Lambert Charter.
capital Ambohimanga,[67] and later from the Rova of An- Succeeding his mother, Radama II (186163) attempted
tananarivo, this Merina king rapidly expanded his rule to relax the queens stringent policies, but was overthrown
over neighboring principalities. His ambition to bring two years later by Prime Minister Rainivoninahitriniony
the entire island under his control was largely achieved (18521865) and an alliance of Andriana (noble) and
by his son and successor, King Radama I (181028), Hova (commoner) courtiers, who sought to end the abwho was recognized by the British government as King solute power of the monarch.[17]
of Madagascar.[68]
Following the coup, the courtiers oered Radamas queen
Radama concluded a treaty in 1817 with the British governor of Mauritius to abolish the lucrative slave trade in
return for British military and nancial assistance. Artisan missionary envoys from the London Missionary Society began arriving in 1818 and included such key gures
as James Cameron, David Jones and David Griths, who
established schools, transcribed the Malagasy language
using the Roman alphabet, translated the Bible, and introduced a variety of new technologies to the island.[68]

Rasoherina (186368) the opportunity to rule, if she

would accept a power sharing arrangement with the
Prime Ministera new social contract that would be
sealed by a political marriage between them.[70] Queen
Rasoherina accepted, rst wedding Rainivoninahitriniony, then later deposing him and wedding his brother,
Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (186495), who would go
on to marry Queen Ranavalona II (186883) and Queen
Ranavalona III (188397) in succession.[71]


French colonisation (1897-1960)

Over the course of Rainilaiarivonys 31-year tenure

as prime minister, numerous policies were adopted
to modernize and consolidate the power of the central government.[72] Schools were constructed throughout the island and attendance was made mandatory.
Army organization was improved, and British consultants
were employed to train and professionalize soldiers.[73]
Polygamy was outlawed and Christianity, declared the ofcial religion of the court in 1869, was adopted alongside traditional beliefs among a growing portion of the
populace.[72] Legal codes were reformed on the basis
of British common law and three European-style courts
were established in the capital city.[73] In his joint role as
Commander-in-Chief, Rainilaiarivony also successfully
ensured the defense of Madagascar against several French
colonial incursions.[73]


French colonisation (1897-1960)

protectorate on the island, but French authority was not
acknowledged by the government of Madagascar. To
force capitulation, the French bombarded and occupied
the harbor of Toamasina on the east coast, and Mahajanga
on the west coast, in December 1894 and January 1895
A French military ying column then marched toward
Antananarivo, losing many men to malaria and other
diseases. Reinforcements came from Algeria and SubSaharan Africa. Upon reaching the city in September
1895, the column bombarded the royal palace with heavy
artillery, causing heavy casualties and leading Queen
Ranavalona III to surrender.[77] France annexed Madagascar in 1896 and declared the island a colony the following year, dissolving the Merina monarchy and sending the royal family into exile on Runion Island and to
Algeria. A two-year resistance movement organized in
response to the French capture of the royal palace was
eectively put down at the end of 1897.[78]

Main articles: Malagasy Protectorate and French Mada- Under colonial rule, plantations were established for the
production of a variety of export crops.[79] Slavery was
Primarily on the basis that the Lambert Charter had not abolished in 1896 and approximately 500,000 slaves
were freed; many remained in their former masters
homes as servants.[80] Wide paved boulevards and gathering places were constructed in the capital city of
Antananarivo[81] and the Rova palace compound was
turned into a museum.[82] Additional schools were built,
particularly in rural and coastal areas where the schools of
the Merina had not reached. Education became mandatory between the ages of 6 to 13 and focused primarily on
French language and practical skills.[83]
The Merina royal tradition of taxes paid in the form of
labor was continued under the French and used to construct a railway and roads linking key coastal cities to
Antananarivo.[84] Malagasy troops fought for France in
World War I.[12] In the 1930s, Nazi political thinkers
developed the Madagascar plan on the basis of earlier
proposals from Poland and elsewhere in Europe that had
identied the island as a potential site for the deportation
of Europes Jews.[85] During the Second World War, the
island was the site of the Battle of Madagascar between
the Vichy government and the British.[86]
The occupation of France during the Second World
War tarnished the prestige of the colonial administration in Madagascar and galvanized the growing independence movement, leading to the Malagasy Uprising of
1947.[87] This movement led the French to establish reformed institutions in 1956 under the Loi Cadre (Overseas Reform Act), and Madagascar moved peacefully toA French poster about the Franco-Hova War.
wards independence.[88] The Malagasy Republic was proclaimed on 14 October 1958, as an autonomous state
been respected, France invaded Madagascar in 1883 in within the French Community. A period of provisional
what became known as the rst Franco-Hova War.[74] government ended with the adoption of a constitution in
At the end of the war, Madagascar ceded the northern 1959 and full independence on 26 June 1960.[89]
port town of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) to France and
paid 560,000 francs to Lamberts heirs.[75] In 1890, the
British accepted the full formal imposition of a French



Independent state (1960-)

These policies, coupled with economic pressures stemming from the 1973 oil crisis, resulted in the rapid colMain articles: Malagasy Republic, Democratic Republic lapse of Madagascars economy and a sharp decline in
living standards,[17] and the country had become comof Madagascar and Third Republic of Madagascar
Since regaining independence, Madagascar has tran- pletely bankrupt by 1979. The Ratsiraka administration
accepted the conditions of transparency, anti-corruption
measures and free market policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and various bilateral donors in exchange for their bailout of the nations
broken economy.[90]

Philibert Tsiranana, the rst president of Madagascar (1960


sitioned through four republics with corresponding revisions to its constitution. The First Republic (1960
72), under the leadership of French-appointed President Philibert Tsiranana, was characterized by a continuation of strong economic and political ties to France.
Many high-level technical positions were lled by French
expatriates, and French teachers, textbooks and curricula continued to be used in schools around the country.
Popular resentment over Tsirananas tolerance for this
neo-colonial arrangement inspired a series of farmer
and student protests that overturned his administration in
Gabriel Ramanantsoa, a major general in the army, was
appointed interim president and prime minister that same
year, but low public approval forced him to step down
in 1975. Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava, appointed to
succeed him, was assassinated six days into his tenure.
General Gilles Andriamahazo ruled after Ratsimandrava
for four months before being replaced by another military
appointee: Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka, who ushered
in the socialist-Marxist Second Republic that ran under
his tenure from 1975 to 1993.

Ratsirakas dwindling popularity in the late 1980s

reached a critical point in 1991 when presidential guards
opened re on unarmed protesters during a rally. Within
two months, a transitional government had been established under the leadership of Albert Zafy (1993
96), who went on to win the 1992 presidential elections
and inaugurate the Third Republic (19922010).[91] The
new Madagascar constitution established a multi-party
democracy and a separation of powers that placed signicant control in the hands of the National Assembly.
The new constitution also emphasized human rights, social and political freedoms, and free trade.[17] Zafys term,
however, was marred by economic decline, allegations
of corruption, and his introduction of legislation to give
himself greater powers. He was consequently impeached
in 1996, and an interim president, Norbert Ratsirahonana, was appointed for the three months prior to the next
presidential election. Ratsiraka was then voted back into
power on a platform of decentralization and economic
reforms for a second term which lasted from 1996 to
The contested 2001 presidential elections in which thenmayor of Antananarivo, Marc Ravalomanana, eventually emerged victorious, caused a seven-month stando
in 2002 between supporters of Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka. The negative economic impact of the political
crisis was gradually overcome by Ravalomananas progressive economic and political policies, which encouraged investments in education and ecotourism, facilitated
foreign direct investment, and cultivated trading partnerships both regionally and internationally. National GDP
grew at an average rate of 7 percent per year under his administration. In the later half of his second term, Ravalomanana was criticised by domestic and international observers who accused him of increasing authoritarianism
and corruption.[90]

Opposition leader and then-mayor of Antananarivo,

Andry Rajoelina, led a movement in early 2009 in which
Ravalomanana was pushed from power in an unconstitutional process widely condemned as a coup d'tat. In
March 2009, Rajoelina was declared by the Supreme
Court as the President of the High Transitional Authority, an interim governing body responsible for moving the country toward presidential elections. In 2010,
a new constitution was adopted by referendum, estabThis period saw a political alignment with the Eastern lishing a Fourth Republic, which sustained the demoBloc countries and a shift toward economic insularity. cratic, multi-party structure established in the previ-



ous constitution.[91] Hery Rajaonarimampianina was declared the winner of the 2013 presidential election,
which the international community deemed fair and

lack the capacity to quickly and transparently try the cases
in the judicial system, often forcing defendants to pass
lengthy pretrial detentions in unsanitary and overcrowded

Antananarivo is the administrative capital and largest city

of Madagascar.[12] It is located in the highlands region,
4 Government
near the geographic center of the island. King Andrianjaka founded Antananarivo as the capital of his Imerina
Kingdom around 1610 or 1625 upon the site of a captured
4.1 Structure
Vazimba capital on the hilltop of Analamanga.[60] As
Merina dominance expanded over neighboring Malagasy
Main article: Government of Madagascar
Madagascar is a semi-presidential representative demo- peoples in the early 19th century to establish the Kingdom of Madagascar, Antananarivo became the center of
administration for virtually the entire island. In 1896
the French colonizers of Madagascar adopted the Merina capital as their center of colonial administration. The
city remained the capital of Madagascar after regaining
independence in 1960. In 2011, the capitals population
was estimated at 1,300,000 inhabitants. The next largest
cities are Antsirabe (500,000), Toamasina (450,000) and
Mahajanga (400,000).[12]

4.2 Politics
Main articles: Politics of Madagascar, Foreign relations
of Madagascar and Human rights in Madagascar
Antananarivo is the political and economic capital of Madagascar.

cratic multi-party republic, wherein the popularly elected

president is the head of state and selects a prime minister,
who recommends candidates to the president to form his
cabinet of ministers. According to the constitution, executive power is exercised by the government while legislative power is vested in the ministerial cabinet, the Senate
and the National Assembly, although in reality these two
latter bodies have very little power or legislative role. The
constitution establishes independent executive, legislative
and judicial branches and mandates a popularly elected
president limited to three ve-year terms.[12]
The public directly elects the president and the 127 members of the National Assembly to ve-year terms. The
last National Assembly election was held on 20 December 2013. All 33 members of the Senate serve six-year
terms, with 22 senators elected by local ocials and 11
appointed by the president. After taking power, Rajoelina dissolved both the National Assembly and the
Senate, leaving the nation without a constitutional legislative body.[12]
At the local level, the islands 22 provinces are administered by a governor and provincial council. Provinces
are further sub-divided into regions and communes. The
judiciary is modeled on the French system, with a High
Constitutional Court, High Court of Justice, Supreme
Court, Court of Appeals, criminal tribunals, and tribunals
of rst instance.[93] The courts, which adhere to civil law,

Since Madagascar gained independence from France in

1960, the islands political transitions have been marked
by numerous popular protests, several disputed elections,
an impeachment, two military coups and one assassination. The islands recurrent political crises are often prolonged, with detrimental eects on the local economy, international relations and Malagasy living standards. The
eight-month stando between incumbent Ratsiraka and
challenger Marc Ravalomanana, following the 2001 presidential elections, cost Madagascar millions of dollars in
lost tourism and trade revenue as well as damage to infrastructure, such as bombed bridges and buildings damaged
by arson.[95]
A series of protests led by Andry Rajoelina against Ravalomanana in early 2009 became violent, with more than
170 people killed.[96] Modern politics in Madagascar are
colored by the history of Merina subjugation of coastal
communities under their rule in the 19th century. The
consequent tension between the highland and coastal populations has periodically ared up into isolated events of
Madagascar has historically been perceived as being on
the margin of mainstream African aairs despite being a founding member of the Organisation of African
Unity, which was established in 1963 and dissolved in
2002 to be replaced by the African Union. Madagascar was not permitted to attend the rst African
Union summit because of a dispute over the results of
the 2001 presidential election, but rejoined the African



Union in July 2003 after a 14-month hiatus. Madagascar was again suspended by the African Union in March
2009 following the unconstitutional transfer of executive power to Rajoelina.[98] Madagascar is a member of
the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the United States military.[12] Eleven countries have established embassies in
Madagascar, including France, the United Kingdom, the
United States, China and India.[99]
Human rights in Madagascar are protected under the
constitution and the state is a signatory to numerous international agreements including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights
of the Child.[100] Religious, ethnic and sexual minorities are protected under the law. Freedom of association and assembly are also guaranteed under the law, although in practice the denial of permits for public assembly has occasionally been used to impede political
demonstrations.[45][100] Torture by security forces is rare
and state repression is low relative to other countries
with comparably few legal safeguards, although arbitrary
arrests and the corruption of military and police ocers remain problems. Ravalomananas 2004 creation of
BIANCO, an anti-corruption bureau, resulted in reduced
corruption among Antananarivos lower-level bureaucrats
in particular, although high-level ocials have not been
prosecuted by the bureau.[45]



Main article: Military of Madagascar

The rise of centralized kingdoms among the Sakalava,
Merina and other ethnic groups produced the islands rst
standing armies by the 16th century, initially equipped
with spears but later with muskets, cannons and other
rearms.[101] By the early 19th century, the Merina
sovereigns of the Kingdom of Madagascar had brought
much of the island under their control by mobilizing an
army of trained and armed soldiers numbering as high as
30,000.[102] French attacks on coastal towns in the later
part of the century prompted then-Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony to solicit British assistance to provide training to the Merina monarchys army. Despite the training
and leadership provided by British military advisers, the
Malagasy army was unable to withstand French weaponry
and was forced to surrender following an attack on the
royal palace at Antananarivo. Madagascar was declared
a colony of France in 1897.[103]
The political independence and sovereignty of the Malagasy armed forces, which comprises an army, navy and
air force, was restored with independence from France in
1960.[104] Since this time the Malagasy military has never
engaged in armed conict with another state or within its
own borders, but has occasionally intervened to restore
order during periods of political unrest. Under the social-

ist Second Republic, Admiral Didier Ratsiraka instated

mandatory national armed or civil service for all young
citizens regardless of gender, a policy that remained in
eect from 1976 to 1991.[105][106] The armed forces are
under the direction of the Minister of the Interior[93] and
have remained largely neutral during times of political
crisis, as during the protracted stando between incumbent Ratsiraka and challenger Marc Ravalomanana in the
disputed 2001 presidential elections, when the military
refused to intervene in favor of either candidate. This tradition was broken in 2009, when a segment of the army
defected to the side of Andry Rajoelina, then-mayor of
Antananarivo, in support of his attempt to force President
Ravalomanana from power.[45]
The Minister of the Interior is responsible for the national police force, paramilitary force (gendarmerie) and
the secret police.[93] The police and gendarmerie are stationed and administered at the local level. However, in
2009 fewer than a third of all communes had access
to the services of these security forces, with most lacking local-level headquarters for either corps.[107] Traditional community tribunals, called dina, are presided over
by elders and other respected gures and remain a key
means by which justice is served in rural areas where
state presence is weak. Historically, security has been
relatively high across the island.[45] Violent crime rates
are low, and criminal activities are predominantly crimes
of opportunity such as pickpocketing and petty theft, although child prostitution, human tracking and the production and sale of marijuana and other illegal drugs are
increasing.[93] Budget cuts since 2009 have severely impacted the national police force, producing a steep increase in criminal activity in recent years.[45]

4.4 Administrative divisions

Main articles: Regions of Madagascar and Districts of
Madagascar is subdivided into 22 regions (faritra) .[12]
The regions are further subdivided into 119 districts,
1,579 communes, and 17,485 fokontany.[107]

5 Economy
Main articles: Economy of Madagascar and Tourism in
During Madagascars First Republic, France heavily inuenced Madagascars economic planning and policy and
served as its key trading partner. Key products were cultivated and distributed nationally through producers and
consumers cooperatives. Government initiatives such as
a rural development program and state farms were established to boost production of commodities such as
rice, coee, cattle, silk and palm oil. Popular dissatisfaction over these policies was a key factor in launching the


Natural resources and trade


Embroidered table cloths are produced for sale to tourists at Nosy


trial production dropped by 75 percent, ination spiked

and government debt increased; the rural population was
soon reduced to living at subsistence levels. Over 50 percent of the nations export revenue was spent on debt

A map of Madagascars regions.

A proportional representation of Madagascars exports.

socialist-Marxist Second Republic, in which the formerly

private bank and insurance industries were nationalized;
state monopolies were established for such industries as
textiles, cotton and power; and importexport trade and
shipping were brought under state control. Madagascars economy quickly deteriorated as exports fell, indus-

The IMF forced Madagascars government to accept

structural adjustment policies and liberalization of the
economy when the state became bankrupt in 1982 and
state-controlled industries were gradually privatized over
the course of the 1980s. The political crisis of 1991 led to
the suspension of IMF and World Bank assistance. Conditions for the resumption of aid were not met under Zafy,
who tried unsuccessfully to attract other forms of revenue for the State before aid was once again resumed under the interim government established upon Zafys impeachment. The IMF agreed to write o half Madagascars debt in 2004 under the Ravalomanana administration. Having met a set of stringent economic, governance
and human rights criteria, Madagascar became the rst
country to benet from the Millennium Challenge Account in 2005.[12]
Madagascars GDP in 2009 was estimated at 8.6 billion USD, with a per capita GDP of $438.[12] Approximately 69 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line threshold of one dollar per day.[110]
The agriculture sector constituted 29 percent of Malagasy
GDP in 2011, while manufacturing formed 15 percent
of GDP. Madagascars sources of growth are tourism,
agriculture and the extractive industries.[111] Tourism focuses on the niche eco-tourism market, capitalizing on
Madagascars unique biodiversity, unspoiled natural habitats, national parks and lemur species.[112] An estimated
365,000 tourists visited Madagascar in 2008, but the sector has declined as a result of the political crisis with
180,000 tourists visiting in 2010.[111]



5.2 Infrastructure and media

Main articles:
Transport in Madagascar and
Telecommunications in Madagascar
In 2010, Madagascar had approximately 7,617 km

Toy animals made from raa, a native palm[113]


Natural resources and trade

A news stand in Antananarivo.

Madagascars natural resources include a variety of unprocessed agricultural and mineral resources. Agriculture, including raa, shing and forestry, is a mainstay
of the economy. Madagascar is the worlds principal supplier of vanilla, cloves[114] and ylang-ylang.[18] Other key
agricultural resources include coee, lychees and shrimp.
Key mineral resources include various types of precious
and semi-precious stones, and Madagascar currently provides half of the worlds supply of sapphires, which were
discovered near Ilakaka in the late 1990s.[115]

(4,730 mi) of paved roads, 854 km (530 mi) of railways

and 432 km (270 mi) of navigable waterways.[9] The
majority of roads in Madagascar are unpaved, with many
becoming impassable in the rainy season. Largely paved
national routes connect the six largest regional towns
to Antananarivo, with minor paved and unpaved routes
providing access to other population centers in each

There are several rail lines. Antananarivo is connected

to Toamasina, Ambatondrazaka and Antsirabe by rail,
and another rail line connects Fianarantsoa to Manakara.
The most important seaport in Madagascar is located
on the east coast at Toamasina. Ports at Mahajanga
and Antsiranana are signicantly less used due to their
remoteness.[17] The islands newest port at Ehoala, constructed in 2008 and privately managed by Rio Tinto, will
come under state control upon completion of the companys mining project near Tlanaro around 2038.[116]
Air Madagascar services the islands many small regional
airports, which oer the only practical means of access
to many of the more remote regions during rainy season
Exports formed 28 percent of GDP in 2009.
Most road washouts.
of the countrys export revenue is derived from the tex- Running water and electricity are supplied at the national
tiles industry, sh and shellsh, vanilla, cloves and other level by a government service provider, Jirama, which is
foodstus.[111] France is Madagascars main trading part- unable to service the entire population. As of 2009, only
ner, although the United States, Japan and Germany 6.8 percent of Madagascars fokontany had access to waalso have strong economic ties to the country.[16] The ter provided by Jirama, while 9.5 percent had access to
Madagascar-U.S. Business Council was formed in May its electricity services.[107] 56% of Madagascars power is
2003, as a collaboration between USAID and Malagasy provided by hydroelectric power plants with the remainartisan producers to support the export of local handi- ing 44% provided by diesel engine generators.[120] Mocrafts to foreign markets.[119] Imports of such items as bile telephone and internet access are widespread in urban
foodstus, fuel, capital goods, vehicles, consumer goods areas but remain limited in rural parts of the island. Apand electronics consume an estimated 52 percent of proximately 30 percent of the districts are able to access
GDP. The main sources of Madagascars imports include the nations several private telecommunications networks
France, China, Iran, Mauritius and Hong Kong.[12]
via mobile telephones or land lines.[107]
Madagascar has one of the worlds largest reserves of
ilmenite (titanium ore), as well as important reserves
of chromite, coal, iron, cobalt, copper and nickel.[16]
Several major projects are underway in the mining, oil
and gas sectors that are anticipated to give a signicant
boost to the Malagasy economy. These include such
projects as ilmenite and zircon mining from heavy mineral sands near Tlanaro by Rio Tinto,[116] extraction
of nickel near Moramanga and its processing near Toamasina by Sherritt International,[117] and the development
of the giant onshore heavy oil deposits at Tsimiroro and
Bemolanga by Madagascar Oil.[118]

Radio broadcasts remain the principal means by which
the Malagasy population access international, national
and local news. Only state radio broadcasts are transmitted across the entire island. Hundreds of public and
private stations with local or regional range provide alternatives to state broadcasting.[94] In addition to the state
television channel, a variety of privately owned television
stations broadcast local and international programming
throughout Madagascar. Several media outlets are owned
by political partisans or politicians themselves, including
the media groups MBS (owned by Ravalomanana) and
Viva (owned by Rajoelina),[45] contributing to political
polarization in reporting.
The media has historically come under varying degrees
of pressure over time to censor their criticism of the
government. Reporters are occasionally threatened or
harassed and media outlets are periodically forced to
close.[94] Accusations of media censorship have increased
since 2009 due to the alleged intensication of restrictions on political criticism.[100] Access to the internet has
grown dramatically over the past decade, with an estimated 352,000 residents of Madagascar accessing the internet from home or in one of the nations many internet
cafes in December 2011.[94]


Maternal mortality declined after 1990 but rose sharply after

2009 due to political instability.[107]

Medical centers, dispensaries and hospitals are found

throughout the island, although they are concentrated in
urban areas and particularly in Antananarivo. Access to
medical care remains beyond the reach of many Malagasy.
See Healthcare in Madagascar


Main article: Education in Madagascar

Prior to the 19th century, all education in Madagascar
was informal and typically served to teach practical skills
as well as social and cultural values, including respect for
ancestors and elders.[17] The rst formal European-style
school was established in 1818 at Toamasina by members of the London Missionary Society (LMS). The LMS
was invited by King Radama I (181028) to expand its
schools throughout Imerina to teach basic literacy and numeracy to aristocratic children. The schools were closed
by Ranavalona I in 1835[121] but reopened and expanded
in the decades after her death.

Education access






continued reliance on French nationals as teachers, and

French as the language of instruction, displeased those
desiring a complete separation from the former colonial
By the end of the 19th century Madagascar had the most power.
developed and modern school system in pre-colonial Sub- Consequently, under the socialist Second Republic,
Saharan Africa. Access to schooling was expanded in French instructors and other nationals were expelled,
coastal areas during the colonial period, with French lan- Malagasy was declared the language of instruction and
guage and basic work skills becoming the focus of the a large cadre of young Malagasy were rapidly trained to
curriculum. During the post-colonial First Republic, a teach at remote rural schools under the mandatory two-



year national service policy.[122]

gascar was approximately 2.9 percent in 2009.[12] The

in 1900[17] to an esThis policy, known as malgachization, coincided with a population grew from 2.2 million
severe economic downturn and a dramatic decline in the timated 22 million in 2012.
quality of education. Those schooled during this period Approximately 42.5 percent of the population is younger
generally failed to master the French language or many than 15 years of age, while 54.5 percent are between the
other subjects and struggled to nd employment, forcing ages of 15 and 64. Those aged 65 and older form three
many to take low-paying jobs in the informal or black percent of the total population.[111] Only two general cenmarket that mired them in deepening poverty. Except- suses, in 1975 and 1993, have been carried out after ining the brief presidency of Albert Zafy, from 1992 to dependence. The most densely populated regions of the
1996, Ratsiraka remained in power from 1975 to 2001 island are the eastern highlands and the eastern coast,
and failed to achieve signicant improvements in educa- contrasting most dramatically with the sparsely populated
tion throughout his tenure.[123]
western plains.[17]
Education was prioritized under the Ravalomanana administration (200209), and is currently free and compul- 8.1 Ethnic groups
sory from ages 6 to 13.[124] The primary schooling cycle
is ve years, followed by four years at the lower secondary Main article: Ethnic groups of Madagascar
level and three years at the upper secondary level.[17] Dur- The Malagasy ethnic group forms over 90 percent of
ing Ravalomananas rst term, thousands of new primary
schools and additional classrooms were constructed, older
buildings were renovated, and tens of thousands of new
primary teachers were recruited and trained. Primary
school fees were eliminated and kits containing basic
school supplies were distributed to primary students.[124]
Government school construction initiatives have ensured
at least one primary school per fokontany and one lower
secondary school within each commune. At least one upper secondary school is located in each of the larger urban centers.[107] The three branches of the national public
university are located at Antananarivo (founded in 1961),
Mahajanga (1977) and Fianarantsoa (1988). These are
complemented by public teacher-training colleges and
several private universities and technical colleges.[17]
As a result of increased educational access, enrollment
rates more than doubled between 1996 and 2006. However, education quality is weak, producing high rates
of grade repetition and dropout.[124] Education policy in
Ravalomananas second term focused on quality issues,
including an increase in minimum education standards
for the recruitment of primary teachers from a middle
school leaving certicate (BEPC) to a high school leaving
certicate (BAC), and a reformed teacher training program to support the transition from traditional didactic
instruction to student-centered teaching methods to boost
student learning and participation in the classroom.[125]
Public expenditure on education was 13.4 percent of total
government expenditure and 2.9 percent of GDP in 2008.
Primary classrooms are crowded, with average pupil to
teacher ratios of 47:1 in 2008.[126]


The regional distribution of Malagasy ethnic sub-groups.

Madagascars population and is typically divided into

eighteen ethnic sub-groups.[12] Recent DNA research revealed that the genetic makeup of the average Malagasy person constitutes an approximately equal blend of
Southeast Asian and East African genes,[127][128] although
the genetics of some communities show a predominance
of Southeast Asian or East African origins or some Arab,
Indian or European ancestry.[129]

Southeast Asian origins specically from the southern part of Borneo are most predominant among the
Main article: Demographics of Madagascar
Merina of the central highlands,[97] who form the largest
Malagasy ethnic sub-group at approximately 26 percent
In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated at of the population, while certain communities among the
22 million.[5] The annual population growth rate in Mada- coastal peoples (collectively called ctiers) have relatively




stronger East African origins. The largest coastal ethnic April 2000, on the grounds that the publication of ocial
sub-groups are the Betsimisaraka (14.9 percent) and the documents only in the French language was unconstituTsimihety and Sakalava (6 percent each).[17]
tional. The High Constitutional Court observed in its deFrench still
Chinese, Indian and Comorian minorities are present cision that, in the absence of a language law,
in Madagascar, as well as a small European (primarily French) populace. Emigration in the late 20th century has reduced these minority populations, occasionally in abrupt waves, such as the exodus of Comorans
in 1976, following anti-Comoran riots in Mahajanga.[17]
By comparison, there has been no signicant emigration of Malagasy peoples.[16] The number of Europeans
has declined since independence, reduced from 68,430
in 1958[88] to 17,000 three decades later. There were an
estimated 25,000 Comorans, 18,000 Indians, and 9,000
Chinese living in Madagascar in the mid-1980s.[17]

In the Constitution of 2007, Malagasy remained the national language while ocial languages were reintroduced: Malagasy, French, and English.[132] English was
removed as an ocial language from the constitution approved by voters in the November referendum 2010.[1]
The outcome of the referendum, and its consequences for
ocial and national language policy, are not recognized
by the political opposition, who cite lack of transparency
and inclusiveness in the way the election was organized
by the High Transitional Authority.[91]


8.3 Religion


Main article: Religion in Madagascar

Approximately half of the countrys population prac-

A Malagasy child.

Main articles: Malagasy language and Languages of

The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin
and is generally spoken throughout the island. The numerous dialects of Malagasy, which are generally mutually intelligible,[130] can be clustered under one of two
sub-groups: eastern Malagasy, spoken along the eastern
forests and highlands including the Merina dialect of Antananarivo and western Malagasy, spoken across the western coastal plains. French became the ocial language
during the colonial period, when Madagascar came under the authority of France. In the rst national Constitution of 1958, Malagasy and French were named the ofcial languages of the Malagasy Republic. Madagascar
A Famadihana reburial ceremony.
is a francophone country, and French is mostly spoken
as a second language among the educated population and tice traditional religion,[12] which tends to emphasize
used for international communication.[17]
links between the living and the razana (ancestors). The
No ocial languages were recorded in the Constitution veneration of ancestors has led to the widespread tradiof 1992, although Malagasy was identied as the national tion of tomb building, as well as the highlands practice of
language. Nonetheless, many sources still claimed that the famadihana, whereby a deceased family members
Malagasy and French were ocial languages, eventually remains may be exhumed to be periodically re-wrapped
leading a citizen to initiate a legal case against the state in in fresh silk shrouds before being replaced in the tomb.

The famadihana is an occasion to celebrate the beloved
ancestors memory, reunite with family and community,
and enjoy a festive atmosphere. Residents of surrounding villages are often invited to attend the party, where
food and rum are typically served and a hiragasy troupe
or other musical entertainment is commonly present.[133]
Consideration for ancestors is also demonstrated through
adherence to fady, taboos that are respected during and
after the lifetime of the person who establishes them. It
is widely believed that by showing respect for ancestors
in these ways, they may intervene on behalf of the living. Conversely, misfortunes are often attributed to ancestors whose memory or wishes have been neglected.
The sacrice of zebu is a traditional method used to appease or honor the ancestors. In addition, the Malagasy
traditionally believe in a creator god, called Zanahary or
Almost half the Malagasy are Christian, with practitioners of Protestantism slightly outnumbering adherents to
Roman Catholicism.[12] In 1818 the London Missionary
Society sent the rst Christian missionaries to the island,
where they built churches, translated the Bible into the
Malagasy language and began to gain converts. Beginning in 1835 Queen Ranavalona I persecuted these converts as part of an attempt to halt European cultural and
political inuence on the island. In 1869 a successor,
Queen Ranavalona II, converted the court to Christianity and encouraged Christian missionary activity, burning the sampy (royal idols) in a symbolic break with traditional beliefs.[135]
Today, many Christians integrate their religious beliefs with traditional ones related to honoring the ancestors. For instance, they may bless their dead at
church before proceeding with traditional burial rites or
invite a Christian minister to consecrate a famadihana
reburial.[133] The Malagasy Council of Churches comprises the four oldest and most prominent Christian denominations of Madagascar (Roman Catholic, Church of
Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran, and Anglican) and
has been an inuential force in Malagasy politics.[136]

ethnicity, Indians, Pakistanis and Comorians. More recently, Hinduism was introduced to Madagascar through
Gujarati people immigrating from the Saurashtra region
of India in the late 19th century. Most Hindus in Madagascar speak Gujarati or Hindi at home.[138]

9 Culture
Main article: Culture of Madagascar
Each of the many ethnic sub-groups in Madagascar adhere to their own set of beliefs, practices and ways of life
that have historically contributed to their unique identities. However, there are a number of core cultural features that are common throughout the island, creating a
strongly unied Malagasy cultural identity. In addition to
a common language and shared traditional religious beliefs around a creator god and veneration of the ancestors, the traditional Malagasy worldview is shaped by values that emphasize havanana (solidarity), vintana (destiny), tody (karma), and hasina, a sacred life force that
traditional communities believe imbues and thereby legitimates authority gures within the community or family. Other cultural elements commonly found throughout the island include the practice of male circumcision;
strong kinship ties; a widespread belief in the power of
magic, diviners, astrology and witch doctors; and a traditional division of social classes into nobles, commoners,
and slaves.[17][134]

Although social castes are no longer legally recognized,

ancestral caste aliation often continues to aect social status, economic opportunity and roles within the
community.[139] Malagasy people traditionally consult
Mpanandro (Makers of the Days) to identify the most
auspicious days for important events such as weddings or
famadihana, according to a traditional astrological system introduced by Arabs. Similarly, the nobles of many
Malagasy communities in the pre-colonial period would
commonly employ advisers known as the ombiasy (from
Newer groups such as Seventh-day Adventists are rapidly
olona-be-hasina, man of much virtue) of the southeastgrowing in rural areas through the establishment of
ern Antemoro ethnic group, who trace their ancestry back
intellectual discussion groups, as well as clinics and
to early Arab settlers.[140]
The diverse origins of Malagasy culture are evident in its
Islam is also practiced on the island. Islam was rst
tangible expressions. The most emblematic instrument of
brought to the island in the Middle Ages by Arab and
Madagascar, the valiha, is a bamboo tube zither carried to
Somali Muslim traders, who established several Islamic
Madagascar by early settlers from southern Borneo, and
schools along the eastern coast. While the use of Arais very similar in form to those found in Indonesia and
bic script and loan words and the adoption of Islamic asthe Philippines today.[141] Traditional houses in Madatrology would spread across the island, the Islamic religascar are likewise similar to those of southern Borneo
gion failed to take hold in all but a handful of southeastin terms of symbolism and construction, featuring a rectern coastal communities. Today, Muslims constitute 7
angular layout with a peaked roof and central support
percent of the population of Madagascar and are largely
pillar.[142] Reecting a widespread veneration of the anconcentrated in the northwestern provinces of Mahajanga
cestors, tombs are culturally signicant in many regions
and Antsiranana. The vast majority of Muslims are
and tend to be built of more durable material, typically
Sunni. Muslims are divided between those of Malagasy
stone, and display more elaborate decoration than the


Sport and recreation

houses of the living.[143] The production and weaving of

silk can be traced back to the islands earliest settlers,
and Madagascars national dress, the woven lamba, has
evolved into a varied and rened art.[144]
The Southeast Asian cultural inuence is also evident in
Malagasy cuisine, in which rice is consumed at every
meal, typically accompanied by one of a variety of avorful vegetable or meat dishes.[145] African inuence is
reected in the sacred importance of zebu cattle and their
embodiment of their owners wealth, traditions originating on the African mainland. Cattle rustling, originally a
rite of passage for young men in the plains areas of Madagascar where the largest herds of cattle are kept, has become a dangerous and sometimes deadly criminal enterprise as herdsmen in the southwest attempt to defend their
cattle with traditional spears against increasingly armed
professional rustlers.[58]



ditions, the Ibonia, has been handed down over the centuries in several dierent forms across the island, and offers insight into the diverse mythologies and beliefs of
traditional Malagasy communities.[148] This tradition was
continued in the 20th century by such artists as JeanJoseph Rabearivelo, who is considered Africas rst modern poet,[149] and Elie Rajaonarison, an exemplar of the
new wave of Malagasy poetry.[150] Madagascar has also
developed a rich musical heritage, embodied in dozens of
regional musical genres such as the coastal salegy or highland hiragasy that enliven village gatherings, local dance
oors and national airwaves.[151]
The plastic arts are also widespread throughout the island.
In addition to the tradition of silk weaving and lamba production, the weaving of raa and other local plant materials has been used to create a wide array of practical
items such as oor mats, baskets, purses and hats.[119]
Wood carving is a highly developed art form, with distinct regional styles evident in the decoration of balcony
railings and other architectural elements. Sculptors create a variety of furniture and household goods, aloalo
funerary posts, and wooden sculptures, many of which
are produced for the tourist market.[152] The decorative
and functional woodworking traditions of the Zamaniry
people of the central highlands was inscribed on UNESCOs list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.[153]
Among the Antaimoro people, the production of paper
embedded with owers and other decorative natural materials is a long-established tradition that the community
has begun to market to eco-tourists.[152] Embroidery and
drawn thread work are done by hand to produce clothing,
as well as tablecloths and other home textiles for sale in
local crafts markets.[119] A small but growing number of
ne art galleries in Antananarivo, and several other urban areas, oer paintings by local artists, and annual art
events, such as the Hosotra open-air exhibition in the capital, contribute to the continuing development of ne arts
in Madagascar.[154]

9.2 Sport and recreation

A number of traditional pastimes have emerged in Madagascar. Moraingy, a type of hand-to-hand combat, is a
popular spectator sport in coastal regions. It is traditionally practiced by men, but women have recently begun
to participate.[155] The wrestling of zebu cattle, which is
named savika or tolon-omby, is also practiced in many
regions.[156] In addition to sports, a wide variety of games
are played. Among the most emblematic is fanorona,
a board game widespread throughout the Highland reA Hiragasy dancer.
gions. According to folk legend, the succession of King
A wide variety of oral and written literature has devel- Andrianjaka after his father Ralambo was partially due to
oped in Madagascar. One of the islands foremost artistic the obsession that Andrianjakas older brother may have
fanorona to the detriment of his other
traditions is its oratory, as expressed in the forms of hain- had with playing
teny (poetry), kabary (public discourse) and ohabolana
(proverbs).[146][147] An epic poem exemplifying these tra- Western recreational activities were introduced to Mada-



Hypoestes commonly called the Polka Dot Plant, is native to

Moraingy is a traditional martial art of Madagascar.

11 Notes
gascar over the past two centuries. Rugby Union is considered the national sport of Madagascar.[158] Football is
also popular. Madagascar has produced a world champion in ptanque, a French game similar to lawn bowling, which is widely played in urban areas and throughout
the Highlands.[159] School athletics programs typically include football, track and eld, judo, boxing, womens
basketball and womens tennis. Madagascar sent its rst
competitors to the Olympic Games in 1964 and has also
competed in the African Games.[16] Scouting is represented in Madagascar by its own local federation of three
scouting clubs. Membership in 2011 was estimated at
Because of its advanced sports facilities, Antananarivo
gained the hosting rights for several of Africas top international basketball events, including the 2011 FIBA
Africa Championship,[161] the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship for Women,[162] the 2014 FIBA Africa Under18 Championship,[163] the 2013 FIBA Africa Under-16
Championship,[164] and the 2015 FIBA Africa Under-16
Championship for Women.[165]



Main article: Malagasy cuisine

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External links

Country Prole from BBC News

Madagascar entry at The World Factbook
Madagascar at DMOZ
Madagascar from UCB Libraries GovPubs
Wikimedia Atlas of Madagascar
Key Development Forecasts for Madagascar from
International Futures
Geographic data



Coordinates: 20S 47E / 20S 47E







Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Madagascar Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madagascar?oldid=725965419 Contributors: Joao, Brion VIBBER, -- April, Andre

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