Flag of Madagascar

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Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its 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.


Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Geographic coordinates:

20 00 S, 47 00 E


total: 587,040 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,500 sq km

Land boundaries:

0 km


4,828 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 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

Land use:

arable land: 5.03%
permanent crops: 1.02%
other: 93.95% (2005)

Irrigated land:

10,860 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

periodic cyclones, drought, and locust infestation

Environment - current issues:

soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island

Geography - note:

world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel


18,595,469 (July 2006 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) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 17.5 years
male: 17.3 years
female: 17.7 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

3.03% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

41.41 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

11.11 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 75.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 83.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 66.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 57.34 years
male: 54.93 years
female: 59.82 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

5.62 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.7% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

140,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

7,500 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2005)


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% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
conventional short form: Madagascar
local long form: Republique de Madagascar
local short form: Madagascar
former: Malagasy Republic

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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

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)
elections: National Assembly - last held 15 December 2002 (next to be held December 2006)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - TIM 103, FP 22, AREMA 3, LEADER/Fanilo 2, RPSD 5, others 3, independents 22

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle

Economy - overview:

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 United States. 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$15.85 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$4.569 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$900 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 28.7%
industry: 16.5%
services: 54.8% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

7.3 million (2000)

Population below poverty line:

50% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 29% (1999)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

47.5 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

10% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

26.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $703.6 million
expenditures: $853 million; including capital expenditures of $331 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts; livestock products


meat processing, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

3% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:

825.4 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

767.7 million kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

89.27 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - consumption:

15,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$292 million (2005 est.)


$951 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, chromite, petroleum products

Exports - partners:

US 35.8%, France 30.8%, Germany 7.7% (2004)


$1.4 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food

Imports - partners:

France 17.2%, China 9.7%, Hong Kong 6.6%, Iran 6.4%, Mauritius 6.2%, South Africa 5.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$539 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.6 billion (2002)

Economic aid - recipient:

$354 million (2001)

Currency (code):

Madagascar ariary (MGA)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

58,700 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

333,900 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: system is above average for the region
domestic: open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter links connect regions
international: country code - 261; submarine cable to Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 2 (plus a number of repeater stations), FM 9, shortwave 6 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (plus 36 repeaters) (2001)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

805 (2005)

Internet users:

90,000 (2005)


116 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 29
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 87
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 42
under 914 m: 43 (2005)


total: 732 km
narrow gauge: 732 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 49,827 km
paved: 5,780 km
unpaved: 44,047 km (1999)


600 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 9 ships (1000 GRT or over) 13,896 GRT/18,466 DWT
by type: cargo 7, petroleum tanker 2
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara

Military branches:

People's Armed Forces: Intervention Force, Development Force, and Aeronaval (Navy and Air) Force; National Gendarmerie

Disputes - international:

claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island (all administered by France)

Illicit drugs:

illicit producer of cannabis (cultivated and wild varieties) used mostly for domestic consumption; transshipment point for heroin