Coat of Arms
Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina
» Malagasy French
» Unitary semi-presidential republic
» 587,041 km2
» $33.642 billion
» Per capita $1,429
» $11.188 billion
» Per capita $475
» Malagasy ariary (MGA)
» EAT (UTC+3)
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar French and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
Initial 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 over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting socio-political 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 officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014 when
Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014 when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the international community.
During Madagascar’s First Republic, France heavily influenced Madagascar’s 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, coffee, cattle, silk and palm oil. Popular dissatisfaction over these policies was a key factor in launching the 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 import–export trade and shipping were brought under state control.
Having met a set of stringent economic, governance and human rights criteria, Madagascar became the first country to benefit from the Millennium Challenge Account in 2005.
Madagascar is ranked 115 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of -0.854622
Top 5 Products exported by Madagascar
- Cloves (14%),
- Knit Sweaters (9.3%),
- Crustaceans (6.9%),
- Titanium Ore(4.3%),
- Vanilla (4.2%)
Top 5 Import origins of Madagascar
Top 5 Products imported by Madagascar
- Refined Petroleum (18%),
- Rice (2.9%), Cars (2.8%),
- Delivery Trucks(2.3%),
- Raw Sugar (2.2%)
Top 5 Import origins of Madagascar
- China (15%),
- United Arab Emirates (13%),
- France (7.3%),
- Other Europe(7.0%),
- South Africa (5.8%)
Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity: you can go from rainforest to the desert in just 300km. Few places on earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature. Making the best of it, however, can be challenging (and expensive): Madagascar is the world’s fourth-largest island and its roads are dismal.
But those who relish an adventure will come into their own: the off-road driving is one of a kind, and there are national parks that only see 100 visitors a year, regions that live in autarchy during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there.
With 5000km of coastline, 450km of the barrier reef and 250 islands, no stay in Madagascar would be complete without a few days on the island’s shores. Divers will revel in the choice of sites, from underwater ‘cathedrals’ to shipwrecks, and will relish the chance to see rays, whale sharks, reef sharks and many other kinds of sharks.
Snorkellers will be awed by the sheer grace of turtles and marvel at the rainbow of colours displayed by corals and fish. For those keen to keep their heads above water, the idyllic beaches will prove hard to resist. Once you’ve swayed in your hammock to your heart’s content, you can join a local fisher for a pirogue (dugout canoe) trip, go sailing to explore nearby islands or board a whale-watching boat to admire humpbacks breaching – one of nature’s most majestic spectacles.
Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean, each bringing their own customs and beliefs. This cultural melting pot has evolved into an intricate set of beliefs and rituals that revere ancestors’ spirits. For travellers, getting accustomed to the central role that death plays in everyday life is often an opportunity to reassess their own beliefs, and attending a famadihana (traditional exhumation and reburial) or a traditional circumcision ceremony can be the highlight of a trip. There is much history to discover, too, from the 12 sacred hills of Antananarivo to the pirate cemetery of Ile Sainte Marie and the vestige of Madagascar’s industrial revolution in Mantasoa.
- Tsingy de Bemaraha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is Madagascar’s largest reserve (152,000 hectares).
- The fascinating raised limestone plateau is decorated with a frail, chaotic razor-sharp collection of pinnacles, the “Tsingy”, also called the Labyrinth of Stone. Areas of deciduous forest also provide the chance to see brown lemurs, a variety of bird life and the rare all white Decken’s sifaka.
- The great variety of flora includes aloes, orchids, numerous patchy podium and baobabs.
- The deciduous forest is home to over 50 species of birds; 7 species of lemurs (including the all-white Deckens sifaka) and the rare stump-tailed chameleon (Brookesia paramatta).
- The site of Bemaraha is managed under special UNESCO and access is restricted and the areas you are allowed to visit vary from time to time.
- Located approximately 180 km north of Morondava.
Avenue of the Baobabs is an extraordinary stand of huge baobab trees. Located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar’s west coast it is one of the most visited sites in the Menabe Region.
- A candidate as one of the 7 Wonders of Africa; efforts are underway to protect this unique grove of more than a dozen trees.
- Some of the trees, Adansonia grandidierite, are over 800 years old and reach a height of 30+ metres. A photographer’s paradise, and especially beautiful at sunset.