Madagascar, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
||French, Malagasy (Malagasy), English
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
With an area of 587,041 km², Madagascar (after
Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo) is the fourth largest
island in the world. It lies around 400 km off the coast
of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. The island was
created at least 50 million years ago when it separated
from the primary continent of Gondwanaland.
The island has various forms of landscape: three
quarters of the area is occupied by a highland that is
between 800 and 1 600 m above sea level. The highlands
are furrowed by the course of numerous rivers and have
some mountain ranges. In the east runs a massif from
north to south, which rises up to 2,876 m (Tsaratanana
in the north of the island), in the middle part of the
plateau heights up to 2,642 m are reached (Ankaratra).
The highest mountain on the island is the Maromokotro
with 2,886 m. The highlands drop steeply towards the
almost straight east coast, towards the bay-rich west
coast over pronounced strata and terraces. There are
numerous coral reefs off the dissected west coast. The
east coast is characterized by numerous lagoons with
white sandy beaches. The larger rivers on the island,
Betsiboka, Mangoky and Tsiribihina,
The capital Antananarivo (French: Tananarive) has
around 1.4 million residents.
The island's tropical climate varies depending on the
region and altitude. While temperate, dry climate
prevails in the highlands (average temperatures in the
capital Antananarivo in January 21 กใ C, in July 13 กใ C),
the coast is rather hot, humid (eg in Toamasina on the
east coast in January an average of 26.5 กใ C, in July 21
กใ C). In places, temperatures up to approx. 35 กใ C are
The southeast side of the mountains receives high
rainfall all year round (Toamasina 3 245 mm). In the
highlands and on the west side there is a dry season of
around six months (approx. April to October), the annual
rainfall amounts to approx. 1,000 to 2,000 mm. While it
rains around 250 days a year in northern Madagascar,
rainfall falls on average 150 days a year in the south.
In the south and southwest, an average of no more than
400 mm is measured annually. Between November and April,
violent hurricanes, the so-called Mauritius orcs, keep
appearing in Madagascar.
Flora and fauna
Due to the early detachment of the island from
Gondwanaland, Madagascar has developed a unique flora
and fauna with numerous endemic species. While most of
the crops cultivated today are imported to the island,
there are more than 7,000 native plant species, many of
which only occur in Madagascar. Of the lush tropical
rainforest that once covered most of the island, only
remnants are preserved in the east and northwest of the
country. Numerous plant species are still suspected
there, which have not yet been discovered. In addition
to carnivorous plants, there are over 1,000 species of
orchids here. On the high plateau, tree savannah
predominates, which merges into dry savannah or thorn
shrub savannah with succulents, euphorbias, baobab trees
and Madagascar palms. Large parts of the original
vegetation have been replaced by cultivation areas and
pastures. Mangrove forests can be found on the coasts.
Madagascar's fauna with numerous endemic species is
just as unique as the flora. Around 50% of all bird
species found here only occur on the island, and 95% of
reptiles. Large mammals, typical of mainland Africa, do
not occur in Madagascar. Due to the lack of monkeys, the
so-called semi-monkeys developed particularly well on
the island. They include the lemurs, which, apart from
Madagascar, only occur on the commors. The lemurs
include, among other things, kattas, varis and various
types of maki such as the wool, the rat and the mouse
lemur (with around 16 cm with the smallest primates).
Even today, new subspecies of the lemurs are discovered
using genetic analysis. The semi-monkeys also include
the finger animal (Aye-Aye), who digs under the bark for
insects using his long thin middle fingers.
There are around 350 different reptile and over 3,000
butterfly species on the island. The bird world also
shows an unusual diversity with many endemic species
(such as the Madagascar guinea fowl and the Madagascar
In connection with the discovery of new plant and
animal species, scientists repeatedly warn against the
increase in global species extinction due to the threat
to habitats. Her main focus is on islands such as
Madagascar or the Philippines, where numerous species
have now become extinct that cannot be found anywhere
else in the world. According to the experts, the 14
nature reserves in Madagascar are not sufficient.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 99% of the approximately 18 million residents of the
island are Madagascans, most of whom are of Malay
Indonesian origin. Small groups of Chinese, Indians and
French form minorities. The island is inhabited by a
total of 18 ethnic groups; Traditionally, there are
strong contrasts between the highland tribes that formed
the country's leadership and the coastal tribes. The
largest ethnic group are the Merina with around 27%,
which, like the Betsileo (approx. 12%), belong to the
highland tribes. Other groups are the Betsimisaraka
(15%), the Sakalaven (6%), Antandroy (5%) and Tsimihety
The official languages in Madagascar are French,
Malagasy (Madagascan) and since 2006 also English. Over
half of the population are followers of natural
religions, around 40% belong to Christian religions.
Muslims form a minority.
Around 45% of the total population are younger than
15 years, the population density is around 31 residents
per square kilometer. The population is growing rapidly
(3.02%), despite the high child mortality rate of over
7%. The average life expectancy is 56 years. School
attendance is compulsory for children between the ages
of six and 14, but the literacy rate is only around 69%.
According to the 2010 constitution, Madagascar is a
presidential republic. The head of state is the
President (Hery Rajaonarimampianina since January 2014),
who is directly elected by the people for five years.
The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister (Roger Kolo
since April 2014). The President appoints the Prime
Minister on the recommendation of Parliament. The
legislature lies with the two-chamber parliament, which
consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The
127 members of the National Assembly are directly
elected by the people for four years. The Senate has 90
members, two thirds of whom are appointed by regional
assemblies and one third are appointed by the President.
The Senate's term of office is six years.
Madagascar is divided into 22 regions.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the
world. Large parts of the population are threatened by
chronic malnutrition and diseases. Over three quarters
of the population live on less than $ 1 a day.
The most important economic sector is agriculture,
which generates around 30% of gross domestic product
(GDP). More than 70% of export earnings come from this
area. Bananas, rice, potatoes, manioc, corn and taro are
grown for personal use. Coffee, cocoa, cloves, sugar
cane and tobacco are exported. Another important export
item is vanilla.
For many tribes, livestock farming is the basis of
life. The remaining forest stands are mainly used for
the extraction of firewood, only small amounts of
tropical wood are exported. Soil erosion is a growing
The moderately developed industry (17% of GDP) is
dominated by food processing companies. Glass, tobacco
and textiles are also produced. Various ores, quartz,
gold, bauxite, chromium and nickel are present in
mineral resources in Madagascar, which have so far been
mined only to a limited extent. The oil deposits are
also only partially promoted. The country's energy
requirements are met to over 50% by hydropower.
Madagascar mainly exports to the USA and France and
imports the necessary food, consumer goods and crude oil
from France, China and Hong Kong.
At the end of 2004, the Ariary replaced the
Madagascar franc as the official currency.