OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Madagascar
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 587,040 Sq Km (226,660 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 16,012,300
LOCATION & 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
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
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
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;
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,
MAIN EXPORTS: Cloves, Coffee, Fish, Meat, Petroleum Products, Sugar,
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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