Madagascar Economy, Population, History and Maps

A country in southern Africa, the Republic of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (if you consider Australia as such). It has a total area of ​​587 040 km2 , with small adjacent islands. The main cities are Antananarivo, the capital, with 1 250 700 residents (2004), Toamasina (201 500 residents), Antsirabe (180 500 residents), Mahajanga (152 700 residents) And Fianarantsoa (162 300 residents). From the point of view of the relief, Madagascar is divided into three areas: the central plateau, the narrow eastern coast and the low plateaus and plains on the western coast.

Once covered by extensive and dense forest, Madagascar today has its forest area reduced to 1/4 of the territory.

Madagascar’s climate varies from a humid tropical “monsoon” type on the east coast, to temperate by the altitude on the central plateau, with the west coast subject to two seasons: a dry and cool season, in which the lowest temperatures occur in the month July, and another hot and humid, where the highest temperatures are recorded in the month of December. It should also be noted that, between the months of December to March, the eastern coast is subject to the passage of tropical cyclones originating in the Indian Ocean, bringing with it torrential rains and devastating floods.

The economy is essentially based on agriculture and livestock. Although rice is the main crop, coffee represents the largest share of exports. Other cultures stand out, such as sugar cane, cassava and fruits such as bananas, apples, pineapples or oranges. Sheep, goats, chickens and pigs are abundant.

The mining industry is underdeveloped, mainly due to the scarce mineral resources, with only the titanium deposits, which are considered the largest in the world, worth mentioning. In relation to the manufacturing industry, it focuses mainly on the treatment of rice, wood and paper. Madagascar’s main trading partners are France, Japan, Germany and Iran.

Environmental indicator: the value of carbon dioxide emissions,per capita (metric tons, 1999), is 0.1.

In 2006 it had a population of 18,595,469 residents, corresponding to a population density of 30.73 residents per km2. The birth and death rates are, respectively, 41.41% and 11.11%. Average life expectancy is 57.34 years. The value of the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.468 and the value of the Gender-adjusted Development Index (IDG) is 0.467 (2001). It is estimated that, in 2025, the population will be 32 966 000 residents. The main Malagasy ethnic groups are Merina (27%), Betsimisaraka (15%), Betsileo (12%), Tsimihety (7%), Sakalava (6%) and Antandroy (5%). Traditional beliefs are followed by 52% of the population; Catholics account for 21%, Protestants 20% and Muslims 7%.

It is believed that the island of Madagascar only started to be inhabited 2000 years ago, possibly by travelers of Indonesian origin, given the evident influence of that region on the Malagasy language and culture. There are close to 20 ethnic groups, the most important of which is Merina. Although these groups are not distinguished, either culturally or socially, from each other, it is certain that it was only from the 16th century, when foreign explorers arrived on the island (among which the Portuguese), that to form a national conscience among those groups that, until then, had dedicated themselves to small wars between them. And it was at the end of the 16th century that a kingdom was born that would be at the base of Malagasy nationality: the Merina kingdom, located on the central plateau and with Tananarive as its capital. Through constant business with the French (in exchange for slaves they received weapons), Merina was strengthened, gradually increasing her dominance, at the same time that administrative, economic and social structuring was proceeding. This happened mainly due to the action of Andrianampoinimerina, who reigned from 1787 to 1810 and under which Merina was reunited in 1797, who, in the middle of the 18th century, had been divided into four kingdoms. For Madagascar democracy and rights, please check getzipcodes.

However, the French had already shown a willingness to dominate the island of Madagascar, namely through the conquest of islands adjacent to the east coast. In view of this situation, Radama I, son of Andrianampoinimerina, joins the English governor of Mauritius, who supports him in the annexation of that area and land in southern Madagascar belonging to the Sakalava kingdom, in exchange for opening Madagascar to workers and institutions English, such as the London Missionary Society. The death of Radama in 1828 and the consequent accession to the throne of his wife, Ranavalona I, reversed this policy, since the queen chose as a priority the expulsion of the entire European presence, a situation that lasted until her death. Radama II, son of Ranavalona I, reestablished contacts with Europeans, a policy that was taken to excess, which provoked his deposition in 1863, being replaced by the head of the army, Rainilaiarivony, who remained as prime minister until 1895, the year in which he would be exiled in France. Until his exile, Rainilaiarivony adopted a western style of governance combined with respect for ancestral laws, thus satisfying both the interests of Europeans and the privileges of the Malagasy aristocratic class.

The francophone threat was increasingly present, because in the meantime, France had already extended its influence to the Sakalava kingdom. The war between France and the Merina kingdom (1883-85) would lead to an ambiguous treaty that granted France only a government representation in Tananarive, but in 1895 that country managed to enter its army in the capital of Merina, forcing the queen Ranavalona III to recognize the French protectorate.

Despite the armed resistance carried out by Merina guerrillas, in the early years of French colonization, the truth is that it was not long before the whole island was under French-speaking rule. This conjuncture came to result in an accelerated economic growth, as a result of the close relationship that the country, mainly through agricultural production, established with the European markets, mainly with France. After the Second World War, Madagascar had the status of Overseas Territory of the French Republic, with representatives in the French Parliament, in addition to the existence of a local assembly in Tananarive. However, following violent internal uprisings in 1947, France outlawed Malagasy representatives, as well as the Democratic Movement for the Renewal of Madagascar of which they were a part. In 1958, France decided to give its overseas territories the possibility to choose their own destination. Madagascar, through a referendum held in September of that year, decided for its autonomy within the Francophone Community, being proclaimed as an autonomous republic on October 14, 1958. Independence would only succeed on June 26, 1960, with Tsiranana as president and with the Social Democratic Party in Power. This situation remained until 1972, the year in which Tsiranana, although reelected in the January elections of that year, was obliged to appoint General Gabriel Ramanantsoa as Prime Minister with all the powers of governance. This nomination was confirmed in a referendum held on October 8, three days before Tsiranana’s resignation. General Gabriel Ramanantsoa’s policy led to the breaking of links with the Western world (namely with France and the United States), turning towards the Soviet Union and other communist countries, in line with the internal socialist policy. This policy would be continued by Lieutenant-Commander Didier Ratsiraka, appointed president and head of the Revolutionary Council by the armed junta established after the assassination of Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava, who had succeeded Ramanantsoa. Didier Ratsiraka would, however, be forced to change his policy completely under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, as the country’s economy had reached technical bankruptcy. Foreign investors became interested in Madagascar again, at the same time as France forgave a debt of four billion French francs, and strong trade links were established with South Africa. Didier Ratsiraka was replaced by Albert Zafy, as President of the Republic, and Francisque Ravony, as prime minister, who continued with the policy of opening up to foreign investment. At the end of 1993, Madagascar joined COMESA – Common Market for East and South Africa.

  • Offers a full list of airports in the country of Madagascar, sorted by city location and acronyms.
  • Provides most commonly used abbreviations and initials containing the country name of Madagascar. Listed by popularity. – Maps of Madagascar

Browse a collection of city, shaded relief, political, thematic and historical maps of Madagascar. View maps of Antananarivo, Majunga, Tamatave and Diego-Suarez.


Madagascar – Forest Cover

Map reveals the locations of forests and protected areas on the island nation. Read the forest statistics.


Madagascar – Graphic Maps

View a map of the world’s fourth largest island. Includes a section devoted to the population statistics and economy of the country.


Madagascar – Map

View a detailed, graphical map of this island nation which played a pivotal strategic role for control of the Indian Ocean during the Great War.


Madagascar – National Geographic

Satellite imaging and political map-making create a zoomable map of this African island nation, with cities, rivers and topography.


Madagascar – University of Texas Library

Provides a variety of maps of the island nation. Find out about agricultural products, population density and industry.