MADAGASCAR

Date of establishment: June 26, 1960

Brief history:

  • Pre-colonial period: Madagascar was settled more than 2,000 years ago by migrants from Southeast Asia and Africa. Over the millennia, a number of kingdoms and tribal communities arose on the island, including the Kingdom of Merina.
  • Colonization: In the 17th century, European sailors, especially the French, began to explore the island. In 1897, Madagascar was colonized by France.
  • Independence: Madagascar gained independence from France on 26 June 1960.
  • Post-Independence Political Development: After independence, Madagascar went through political changes and conflicts. In the early years of independence, the country was ruled by President Philibert Tsiranana, but later Richard Ratsimandrava took power. His assassination was followed by a period of political unrest.
  • Period of socialist rule: In 1975, President Didier Ratsiraka took power and set the country on a socialist path. During this period, private property was abolished, and a centralized economy was implemented.
  • Democratization: Madagascar underwent a democratic transformation in the 1990s. In 1992, a new constitution was adopted, and the first free elections were held. Marc Ravalomanana became president and led the country towards economic reforms.
  • Political instability: After several years of relative stability, political unrest and regime change followed in 2009. Andry Rajoelina became president as a result of a political crisis.

 

International abbreviation: MG

 

Currency: Malagasy ariary MGA

This currency replaced the previous currency, which was the franc, after the transition to a fully independent republic in 1960.

Madagascar’s currency, the ariary, is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja, making it a rarity as a non-decimal currency. Ariary notes and coins are commonly used in everyday payments and transactions in the country.

 

Internet domain: .mg

 

Dialing code: +261

 

Time zone: GMT +3

 

Geography:

Madagascar is an island country located in the southwestern part of the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 km (250 miles) from the east coast of the African continent.

It is the largest island in the Indian Ocean and the fourth largest island in the world. It is known for its diverse relief. In the central part of the island there is a high mountain range. There are also lowlands and coastal plains in the west and east.

To the southwest lies a dry region known as the “spiny woods,” where xerophytic plants and desert landscapes are found. At the other end of the island, in the east, there is a rainforest that is home to rich biodiversity. There are also mangrove forests on the east coast.

There are several rivers, the most important of which is the Mangoky. There are also freshwater lakes such as Lake Alaotra.

 

Highest peak: Maromokotro 2 876 m (9 436 feet) above sea level.

Maromokotro is located in a high mountain range in the central part of the island and is part of the Tsaratanana massif. The mountain range is characterized by beautiful nature, high mountains, and wonderful views.

 

Climate:

Madagascar has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. Average temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) on the east coast to 30°C (86°F) in the west and lowlands.

The country has distinct rainy and dry seasons. In the east, the rainy season is usually from November to March, when monsoon winds bring rain to this part of the island. In the west, the rainy season runs from December to April. On the other hand, the dry season is from May to October. Monsoon winds play a significant role in Madagascar’s climate. In summer, they bring moist air from the Indian Ocean to the east coast, causing rain and creating rainforests. In winter, on the other hand, drier air comes from the west.

On the higher mountains, such as the Tsaratanana Massif with the highest peak Maromokotro, there is a snowline, above which there is year-round snow.

 

Fauna and flora:

Madagascar is known as the home of lemurs, which are primates unique to the island. Over 100 different species of lemur live there, including the famous ring-tailed lemur.

The country is also home to many species of chameleons, including the largest chameleon in the world, Parson’s chameleon. The fossa is a beast that is endemic to Madagascar and is a type of marten-like creature that is the symbol of the island. The aye-aye is a nocturnal lemur that is known for its unusual appearance and the long finger it uses to search for insects under the bark of trees.

Madagascar has many endemic bird species.

The country is home to six species of baobab, but the most famous is Grandidier’s baobab, which has a distinctive appearance with a massive trunk and bottle-shaped branches. Most of the plants are endemic, which means they are only found on this island. Among the many species are orchids, different types of euphorbia and other exotic flowers.

There are extensive mangrove forests on the northwest coast, important for the ecosystem and biodiversity of the area.

 

Agriculture:

Rice is a staple food in the Malagasy diet and is one of the main crops. Rice fields are spread throughout the island, cultivated both in the lowlands and in higher mountain areas.

The country produces quality coffee that is exported. Coffee plantations are widespread mainly on the east coast. It is one of the largest producers of vanilla in the world. Vanilla pods are an important commodity for export. Tapioca is another important crop and it is used to produce the starch that is part of many traditional dishes.

Livestock farming and pastoralism are common. Commodities for export such as sugar cane, cocoa or palm oil are grown in Madagascar.

 

Extraction of raw materials:

Madagascar has significant reserves of chromite, an important raw material used in metallurgy, especially in the production of stainless steel. Ilmenite is the mineral from which titanium ore is extracted. The country is one of the world’s major producers of ilmenite.

Gold is mined in various parts, both on an industrial scale and by independent miners. Nickel and cobalt are metals important for industrial applications. It is also known for its gemstones, including sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.

 

Industry:

The textiles and clothing industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in Madagascar. The country has several textile factories that produce clothing for export, mainly to Europe and the United States. In Madagascar, wood is harvested for construction, furniture, and the paper industry.

It has several power plants that use a variety of energy sources, including solar, and biomass.

Fishing is an important industry on Madagascar’s coast, which is rich in marine resources. Livestock breeding and meat processing for the local market.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: tourism and services

 

Natural and historical attractions: the national parks of Isalo, Zahamena, Analamazaotra,and  Tsingy de Bemaraha, the beaches, and Antananarivo

Madagascar has several national parks and protected areas that offer opportunities for trekking, wildlife viewing and exploring unique environments. Thanks to its beautiful sea waters, it offers snorkeling, diving, surfing, and fishing.

The country offers beautiful beaches on the east and west coasts, impressive baobabs on the Avenue des Baobabs and waterfalls such as Andringitra.

It has a rich culture and history, including traditional dances, music, crafts, and historical monuments such as royal palaces.

 

Waterparks in Madagascar:

 

Form of government: republic

Madagascar is a republic with a semi-presidential system of government.

The country’s constitution states that the president is the head of state and in charge of the executive branch. He/she is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term and can be re-elected only once. The president appoints the prime minister, who is the head of government and has responsibility for running the government and state affairs.

Legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament. Parliament consists of the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and the Senate. Members of the National Assembly are elected for a five-year term. Senators are elected for six years, with half of the Senate renewed every three years.

Local government is divided into regions, provinces, districts, and municipalities. Regional governors are appointed by the president and are responsible for the administration of the region.

 

Capital city: Antananarivo

Antananarivo is located on a hill at an altitude of approximately 1 276 meters (4 186 feet) above sea level, giving it a characteristic hilly environment. The town also overlooks the surrounding valley and the Ikopa River.

It is located in the central part of the island, inland, and is the largest city in the country. Antananarivo has a rich history and its original name was “Analamanga.”

The city was founded in the 17th century as a fortified royal settlement. It was the capital of French Madagascar during the colonial era.

 

Area: 587 041 km2 (226 658 square miles)

 

Population: 28 200 000 (2022)

The main ethnic groups on the island are the Merina, Betsileo, Betsimisaraka, Antandroy, and Sakalava. Each of these groups has its own language, culture, and traditions.

Most of the population practices a syncretic religion that combines traditional beliefs with Christianity or Islam. Malagasy is the main language, but French is also widely spoken.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 3

 

  1. Tsingy de Bemaraha (1990) – This strict nature reserve contains a karst area and mangrove swamps.
  2. Royal Mountain Ambohimanga (2001) – An old royal city that is up to 500 years old, which is also a burial ground and a complex of sacred places.
  3. Rainforests of Atsinanana (2007) – Six national parks that protect primeval forests important for the preservation of endemic species of Madagascar’s fauna and flora.

 

National parks: 25

 

  1. Amber Mountain National Park
  2. Analamazaotra National Park
  3. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
  4. Andohahela National Park
  5. Andringitra National Park
  6. Ankarafantsika National Park
  7. Baie de Baly National Park
  8. Isalo National Park
  9. Kirindy Mitea National Park
  10. Lokobe National Park
  11. Mananara Nord National Park
  12. Marojejy National Park
  13. Marolambo National Park
  14. Masoala National Park
  15. Midongy du sud National Park
  16. Nosy Hara National Park
  17. Nosy Tanikely National Park
  18. Nosy Ve-Androka National Park
  19. Ranomafana National Park
  20. Sahamalaza National Park
  21. Tsimanampetsotse National Park
  22. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  23. Tsingy de Namoroka National Park
  24. Zahamena National Park
  25. Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park