OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Madagascar
CAPITAL: Antananarivo
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 587,040 Sq Km (226,660 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 16,012,300


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Madagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa. It is bound by the Mozambique Channel to the west and the Indian Ocean to the south, north and east. Topographically, the country consists of a central highland region which rises steeply from a narrow eastern coastal strip and descends gradually to the broad plains of the western coast. There are three main mountain groups, all of which are of volcanic origin and are the Tsaratana, Ankaratra and Andringingtra. In addition, there are numerous rivers which include the westerly flowing Sambirano, Betsiboka, Tsiribihina, Mangoky, Omilahy and Menarandra as well as the easterly flowing rivers, which are the Mandrare, Mananara, Mananjary, Mangoro and Maningory. There are also around nineteen lakes on the island. Major Cities (pop. est.); Antananarivo 1,052,800, Toamasina 127,400, Antsirabe 120,200, Mahajanga 100,800, Fianarantsoa 99,000 (1993). Land Use; forested 40%, pastures 41%, agricultural-cultivated 5%, other 14% (1993).


CLIMATE: Madagascar has a tropical maritime climate which is influenced by altitude, the monsoons and its proximity to the sea. In general, the highlands have a temperate climate with warm rainy weather from November to April and cooler temperatures from May to October. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,000 to 1,500 mm (39 to 59 inches). The coastal region has a tropical climate with no completely dry season. The heaviest rainfall occurs on the coastal region between May and September with average annual precipitation varying from 2,030 mm to 3,250 mm (80 to 120 inches). Average temperature ranges in Antananarivo are from 9 to 20 degrees Celsius (48 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 16 to 27 degrees Celsius (61 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit) in December.


PEOPLE: The population consists of 18 Malagasy tribes of Afro-Asian origins, who all speak the same language and make up the ethnic majority accounting for 99% of the population. The principal ethnic alien groups include the Comorians, Chinese and Indians.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 21 persons per sq km (55 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 21.9% urban, 78.1% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 50.0% male, 50.0% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 54.0 years male, 57.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15, 27% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 3% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1990). Birth Rate; 45.7 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 14.0 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 31.7 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 120.0 per 1,000 live births (1990).


RELIGIONS: Around 47% of the population follow local native tribal beliefs while 51% are Christians, which are almost equally divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants. There is also a Muslim minority which accounts for just under 2% of the population.


LANGUAGES: The national languages are French and Malagasy. Malagasy belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages with many mutually intelligible dialects.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 80.2% (1990).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1958 Malagasy became a self-governing republic within the French Community and on June 26, 1960 gained full independence with Philibert Tsirinan as its first President. In 1971 the government brutally suppressed a revolt in the south and with growing economic difficulties, mass demonstrations followed. In May 1972 demonstrations forced Tsiranana to resign while the military took control of the government and dissolved the Parliament. Didier Ratsiraka, the Foreign Minister ordered the closure of all foreign military bases and established relations with the Soviet Union and China. In June 1975 Ratsiraka came to power and in Dec. 1975 the country was declared the Democratic Republic of Madagascar with Ratsiraka as President. During the late 1970's security forces put down demonstrations, strikes and coup attempts. In 1984 to 1985 the Kung Fu riots erupted as the government suppressed further civil unrest. In 1987 many Indian and Pakistani people fled the country as they found themselves targeted in attacks. In Mar. 1989 Ratsiraka was re-elected as President. On June 10, 1991 mass demonstrations were organized by 16 opposition parties that had formed a Committee of Active Forces (CFV) calling for the resignation of the President, the abolition of the socialist constitution and the establishment of a national conference to consider a new constitution. On July 23, 1991 Pres. Ratsiraka imposed a State of Emergency after 400,000 people were involved in anti-government demonstrations and issued warrants for the arrest of several opposition politicians. On July 28, 1991 Pres. Ratsiraka announced the dissolvement of the Cabinet and proposed a referendum on a new multiparty constitution. On July 30, 1991 some 51 demonstrators were killed after presidential guards opened fire and dropped grenades from helicopters. In Nov. 1991 Guy Razanamasy announced the formation of a national consensus government that included 13 CFV members and would prepare constitutional reforms. Following which the National Assembly and Supreme Revolutionary Council were dissolved and replaced by a High State Authority headed by Albert Zafy while Ratsiraka remained in office under a joint power sharing arrangement. On Dec. 19, 1991 a new coalition government was formed with Razanamasy as Prime Minister. In July 1992 four members of an opposition group seized a radio station in the capital and declared a coup, although security forces quickly regained control. On Nov. 25, 1992 the first round of Presidential elections were held and resulted in Albert Zafy falling short of a majority with Ratsiraka close behind. As a result of election irregularities the second round of elections were postponed until Feb. 1993. Also in 1992 the transitional regime established a National Committee for Economic and Social Recovery to assist in the transition to a free market economy. In Jan. 1993 Pres. Ratsiraka's deputy prime minister, Francisque Ravony established a Committee for the Support of Democracy and Development and headed the campaign to elect Zafy as President. On Feb. 10, 1993 Zafy won the second round of Presidential election with 66% of the vote. On March 9, 1993 Zafy was inaugurated as President and in May resigned as chairman of the National Union for Democracy and Development in accordance with the constitution. In April 1993 Pres. Zafy established diplomatic relations with Israel, South Africa and South Korea. In June 1993 the CFV easily won the legislative elections with Ravony elected as Prime Minister in Aug. 1993 and appointing his Cabinet on Aug. 29, 1993.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Franc (FMG) divided into 100 Centimes.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $3,055,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $3,920,000,000 (1993). Imports; FMG 1,150,780,000,000 (1994). Exports; FMG 849,960,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $41,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; FMG -300,800,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 5,914,000 or 48.9% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 0.6% (1982).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA, France and other EU countries.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Beryl, Cassava, Cattle, Chromium, Coffee, Garnet, Graphite, Maize, Mangoes, Pepper, Potatoes, Rice, Sugar Cane, Timber, Vanilla, Zirconia.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Food Processing, Forestry, Mining, Oil Refining.

MAIN EXPORTS: Cloves, Coffee, Fish, Meat, Petroleum Products, Sugar, Vanilla.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 883 km (549 mi) (1987), passenger-km 205,000,000 (127,381,000 passenger-mi) (1987), cargo ton-km 201,000,000 (137,665,000 short ton-mi) (1987). Roads; length 49,555 km (30,792 mi) (1988). Vehicles; cars 27,739 (1989), trucks and buses 20,544 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 82 (1990), deadweight tonnage 92,414 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 512,739,000 (318,601,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 76,670,000 (52,511,000 short ton-mi) (1990).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 7 with a total circulation of 48,000 (1991). Radio; receivers 2,300,000 (1994). Television; receivers 130,000 (1994). Telephones; units 34,810 (1993).


MILITARY: 21,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 95.2% army, 2.4% navy and 2.4% air force while military expenditure accounts for 1.1% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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