Madagascar

Introduction 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. RAVALOMANANA is now in his second term following a landslide victory in the generally free and fair presidential elections of 2006.
History

Madagascar, as part of East Gondwana, split from Africa some 160 million years ago; the island of Madagascar was created when it separated from India 80 to 100 million years ago. Archaeologists estimate that humans arrived on Madagascar between 200 and 500 A.D., when seafarers from southeast Asia (probably from Borneo or the southern Celebes) arrived in outrigger sailing canoes. Bantu settlers probably crossed the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar at about the same time as or shortly afterwards.

The written history of Madagascar begins in the 7th century, when Arabs established trading posts along the northwest coast and first transcribed the Malagasy language into Sorabe.

During the Middle Ages, the chiefs of the different settlements began to extend their power through trade with Indian Ocean neighbors, notably East Africa, the Middle East and India. Large chiefdoms began to dominate considerable areas of the island. Among these were the Sakalava chiefdoms of the Menabe, centred in what is now the town of Morondava, and of Boina, centred in what is now the provincial capital of Mahajanga (Majunga). The influence of the Sakalava extended across what is now the provinces of Antsiranana, Mahajanga and Toliara.

European contact began in the year 1500, when Portuguese sea captain Diogo Dias sighted the island after his ship separated from a fleet going to India.[5] The Portuguese continued trading with the islanders and named the island as "Sāo Lourenço" (St. Lawrence). In 1665, Francois Caron, the Director General of the newly formed French East India Company, sailed to Madagascar.[citation needed] The Company failed to establish a colony on Madagascar but established ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon and Ile-de-France (today's Reunion and Mauritius). In the late 17th century, the French established trading posts along the east coast.

From about 1774 to 1824, Madagascar was a favourite haunt for pirates, including Americans, one of whom brought Malagasy rice to South Carolina. Many European sailors were shipwrecked on the coasts of the island, among them Robert Drury whose journal is one of the only written depictions of life in southern Madagascar during the 18th century.

Beginning in the 1790s, Merina rulers succeeded in establishing hegemony over most of the island, including the coast. In 1817, the Merina ruler and the British governor of Mauritius concluded a treaty abolishing the slave trade, which had been important in Madagascar's economy. In return, the island received British military and financial assistance. British influence remained strong for several decades, during which the Merina court was converted to Presbyterianism, Congregationalism and Anglicanism.

With the domination of the Indian Ocean by the Royal Navy and the end of the Arab slave trade, the western Sakalava lost their power to the emerging Merina state. The Betsimisaraka of the east coast also unified, but this union soon faltered.

French intervention and rule

France invaded Madagascar in 1883 in what became known as the first Franco-Hova War seeking to restore property that had been confiscated from French citizens. (Hova is one of three Merina classes: andriana - aristocracy, hova - common people, andevo - slaves. The term hova was wrongly used by the French to mean Merina.) At the wars end, Madagascar ceded Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) on the northern coast to France and paid 560,000 gold stripers francs to the heirs of Joseph-François Lambert. In 1890 the British accepted the full formal imposition of a French protectorate.

In 1895, a French flying column landed in Mahajanga (Majunga) and marched to the capital, Antananarivo, where the city's defenders were taken by surprise, as they were expecting an attack from the much closer east coast. Twenty French soldiers died fighting and 6,000 died of malaria and other diseases before the second Franco-Hova War ended.

After the conclusion of hostilities, in 1896 the French Parliament voted to annex Madagascar. The 103-year-old Merina monarchy ended with the royal family being sent into exile in Algeria. In December 1904, the Russian Baltic Fleet docked at Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) for coal and provisions before sailing on to its doomed encounter with the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Tsushima. Before leaving port the Russian sailors were required to put ashore the animals they had acquired, including monkeys, boa constrictors and one crocodile.

During World War II, Malagasy troops fought in France, Morocco, and Syria. Just before the fall of France, Germany planned to forcibly deport all of Europe's Jews to Madagascar in what was known as the Madagascar Plan. But action on the plan was never begun. After France fell to Germany, the Vichy government administered Madagascar. During the Battle of Madagascar, British troops occupied the strategic island in 1942 to preclude its seizure by the Japanese, after which the Free French took over.

In 1947, with French prestige at low ebb, a nationalist uprising was suppressed after several months of bitter fighting with 90,000 persons killed.[7] The French later established reformed institutions in 1956 under the Loi Cadre (Overseas Reform Act), and Madagascar moved peacefully towards independence. The Malagasy Republic was proclaimed on October 14, 1958, as an autonomous state within the French Community. A period of provisional government ended with the adoption of a constitution in 1959 and full independence on June 26, 1960.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 587,040 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,500 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Arizona
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 4,828 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or 100 nm from the 2,500-m isobath
Climate: tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south
Terrain: narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m
Natural resources: graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 5.03%
permanent crops: 1.02%
other: 93.95% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10,860 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 337 cu km (1984)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 14.96 cu km/yr (3%/2%/96%)
per capita: 804 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic cyclones, drought, and locust infestation
Environment - current issues: soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel
Politics

Madagascar was historically perceived as being on the margin of mainstream African affairs. But it eagerly rejoined the African Union in July 2003 after a 14-month hiatus triggered by the 2002 political crisis. From 1978 to 1991, President Ratsiraka emphasized independence and nonalignment and followed an "all points" policy stressing ties with socialist and radical regimes, including North Korea, Cuba, Libya, and Iran. But President Albert Zafy, taking office in 1993, expressed his desire for diplomatic relations with all countries. Early in his tenure, he established formal ties with South Korea and sent emissaries to Morocco.

Starting in 1997, globalisation encouraged the government and President Ratsiraka to adhere to market-oriented policies and to engage world markets. External relations reflect this trend, although Madagascar's physical isolation and strong traditional insular orientation have limited its activity in regional economic organisations and relations with its East African neighbours. It enjoys closer and generally good relations with its Indian Ocean neighbours -- Mauritius, Réunion, and Comoros. Active relationships with Europe, especially France, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as with Britain, Russia, Japan, India, and China have been strong since independence. More recently, President Ravalomanana has cultivated strong links with the United States, and Madagascar was the first country to benefit from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). Madagascar is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

President Ravalomanana has stated that he welcomes relations with all countries interested in helping Madagascar to develop. He travels widely promoting Madagascar abroad and has consciously sought to strengthen relations with Anglophone countries as a means of balancing traditionally strong French influence. He has also cultivated strong ties with China during his tenure.

In November 2004, after an absence of almost 30 years, Madagascar re-opened its embassy in London. On 15 December 2004 the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, announced the closure of the British embassy in Antananarivo to save £250,000 a year. He also announced an end to the DFID-funded Small Grants Scheme, the only aid Britain gave to this, one of the world's poorest countries. The embassy closed in August 2005 despite petitions and protests from African heads of state, a European commissioner, the Malagasy Senate, many British companies, 30 or so NGOs operating in Madagascar, and members of the public.

The British Embassy was previously closed (also for financial reasons) from 1975 to 1980. The Anglo-Malagasy Society are campaigning to have it re-opened once again.

People Population: 20,042,551 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.7% (male 4,408,615/female 4,349,862)
15-64 years: 53.2% (male 5,298,805/female 5,371,764)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 275,087/female 338,418) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 17.9 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.005% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 38.38 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.32 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 55.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 60.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 50.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 62.52 years
male: 60.58 years
female: 64.51 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.19 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 7,500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: chikungunya, malaria, and plague
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)
adjective: Malagasy
Ethnic groups: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
Religions: indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
Languages: English (official), French (official), Malagasy (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68.9%
male: 75.5%
female: 62.5% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
conventional short form: Madagascar
local long form: Republique de Madagascar/Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
local short form: Madagascar/Madagasikara
former: Malagasy Republic
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Antananarivo
geographic coordinates: 18 55 S, 47 31 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara
Independence: 26 June 1960 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 26 June (1960)
Constitution: 19 August 1992 by national referendum
Legal system: based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Marc RAVALOMANANA (since 6 May 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Charles RABEMANANJARA (25 January 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 3 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: percent of vote - Marc RAVALOMANANA 54.8%, Jean LAHINIRIKO 11.7%, Roland RATSIRAKA 10.1%, Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO 9.1%, Norbert RATSIRAHONANA 4.2%, Ny Hasina ANDRIAMANJATO 4.2%, Elia RAVELOMANANTSOA 2.6%, Pety RAKOTONIAINA 1.7%, other 1.6%
Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of a National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (127 seats - reduced from 160 seats by an April 2007 national referendum; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and a Senate or Senat (100 seats; two-thirds of the seats filled by regional assemblies; the remaining one-third of seats appointed by the president; to serve four-year terms)
elections: National Assembly - last held 23 September 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - TIM 106, LEADER/Fanilo 1, independents 20
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle
Political parties and leaders: Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar or AREMA [Pierrot RAJAONARIVELO]; Democratic Party for Union in Madagascar or PSDUM [Jean LAHINIRIKO]; Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery or LEADER/Fanilo [Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO]; Fihaonana Party or FP [Guy-Willy RAZANAMASY]; I Love Madagascar or TIM [Marc RAVALOMANANA]; Renewal of the Social Democratic Party or RPSD [Evariste MARSON]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Committee for the Defense of Truth and Justice or KMMR; Committee for National Reconciliation or CRN [Albert Zafy]; National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Jocelyn Bertin RADIFERA
chancery: 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-5525, 5526
FAX: [1] (202) 265-3034
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador R. Niels MARQUARDT
embassy: 14-16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo 101
mailing address: B. P. 620, Antsahavola, Antananarivo
telephone: [261] (20) 22-212-57, 22-212-73, 22-209-56
FAX: [261] (20) 22-345-39
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side
Religion

Approximately 50% of the country's population practice traditional religion, which tends to emphasize links between the living and the dead. The Merina in the highlands particularly tend to hold tightly to this practice. They believe that the dead join their ancestors in the ranks of divinity and that ancestors are intensely concerned with the fate of their living descendants. The Merina and Betsileo reburial practice of famadihana, or "turning over the dead", celebrates this spiritual communion. In this ritual, relatives' remains are removed from the family tomb, rewrapped in new silk shrouds, and returned to the tomb following festive ceremonies in their honour where sometimes the bodies are lifted and carried high above the celebrants heads with singing and dancing before returning them to the tomb.

About 45% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants. Many incorporate the cult of the dead with their other religious beliefs and bless their dead at church before proceeding with the traditional burial rites. They also may invite a pastor to attend a famadihana. The Roman Catholic church is open to its members continuing these practices, while more conservative Protestant denominations tend to condemn them to be superstitions or demon worship that should be abandoned. Many of the Christian churches are influential in politics. The best example of this is the Malagasy Council of Churches (FFKM) comprised of the four oldest and most prominent Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran and Anglican).

Islam in Madagascar constitutes about 7% of the population. The Muslim traders who first brought Islam in the 10th century had a deep influence on the west coast. For example, many Malagasy converted to Islam and the Malagasy language was, for the first time, transcribed into an alphabet, based on the Arabic alphabet, called Sorabe. Muslims are concentrated in the provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). Muslims are divided between those of Malagasy ethnicity, Indo-Pakistanis, and Comorians. The number of mosques in the south-east region has increased from 10 to 50 in the last ten years. Recently, there has been some growth in Islam through conversion.

Economy Economy - overview: 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 US. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $19.95 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $7.306 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,000 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 27.3%
industry: 15.8%
services: 56.8% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 7.3 million (2000)
Population below poverty line: 50% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 36.6% (2001)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 47.5 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 26.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.22 billion
expenditures: $1.555 billion (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts; livestock products
Industries: meat processing, seafood, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 6% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 1.046 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 36.1%
hydro: 63.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 973.2 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 92.18 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 17,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 363.9 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 17,830 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $-1.145 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $1.027 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, chromite, petroleum products
Exports - partners: France 32.1%, US 25.3%, Germany 6.1%, Italy 5%, UK 4.1% (2006)
Imports: $2.005 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food
Imports - partners: France 14.5%, China 12%, Iran 9.3%, Mauritius 5.6%, Hong Kong 4.7% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $929.2 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $745 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $4.6 billion (2002)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): ariary (MGA)
Currency code: MGF
Exchange rates: Malagasy ariary per US dollar - 1,880 (2007), 2,161.4 (2006), 2,003 (2005), 1,868.9 (2004), 1,238.3 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 129,800 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 1.046 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: system is above average for the region; Antananarivo's main telephone exchange modernized, but the rest of the analogue-based telephone system is poorly developed; planning to add 50,000 new private-subscriber fixed lines beginning in 2005
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile telephone density only about 7 per 100 persons
international: country code - 261; submarine cable to Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2 (plus a number of repeater stations), FM 9, shortwave 6 (2001)
Radios: 3.05 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus 36 repeaters) (2001)
Televisions: 325,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mg
Internet hosts: 9,734 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 110,000 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 104 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 27
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 77
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 41
under 914 m: 34 (2007)
Railways: total: 854 km
narrow gauge: 854 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 49,827 km
paved: 5,780 km
unpaved: 44,047 km (1999)
Waterways: 600 km (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 9 ships (1000 GRT or over) 13,896 GRT/18,466 DWT
by type: cargo 5, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 2 (2007)
Ports and terminals: Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara
Military Military branches: People's Armed Forces: Intervention Force, Development Force, and Aeronaval Force (navy and air); National Gendarmerie
Military service age and obligation: 18-50 years of age for compulsory military service; 18-month conscript service obligation (either military or equivalent civil service) (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 3,542,797
females age 18-49: 3,551,447 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 2,218,662
females age 18-49: 2,408,810 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 187,000
females age 18-49: 184,833 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1% (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island (all administered by France)
Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis (cultivated and wild varieties) used mostly for domestic consumption; transshipment point for heroin