Madagascar Map and Basic Facts
Madagascar is in Southern Africa. It's an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique.
Size 587,040 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Arizona, US. Madagascar's climate is tropical along coast with a temperate inland, and it's arid in the south. The island has a narrow coastal plain, with a high plateau and mountains in the center. Its lowest point of elevation is the Indian Ocean at 0; its highest point of elevation is Maromokotro which stands at 2,876 m. Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island. It's unique biodiversity is a big draw for scientists and tourists.
Just over 18.5 million people live in Madagascar. Life expectancy is around 57 years. Birth rate is an average of 5.6 children per woman. Literacy rate is just over 68%.
French (official), and Malagasy (official).
Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, and Comoran.
Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, and Muslim 7%.
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.
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.
Source: CIA World Factbook