Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained 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.


Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E
Population: 22,005,222 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.1% (male 4,762,589/female 4,693,259)

15-64 years: 53.8% (male 5,864,520/female 5,938,029)

65 years and over: 3% (male 295,409/female 372,415) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar

conventional short form: Madagascar

local long form: Republique de Madagascar/Repoblikan’iMadagasikara

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)

Telephones – main lines in use: 172,200 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 8.242 million (2009)
Airports: 82 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 26

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 6

914 to 1,523 m: 16

under 914 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: People’s Armed Forces: Intervention Force, Development Force, and Aeronaval Force (navy and air); National Gendarmerie
Military service age and obligation: 18-25 years of age for male-only voluntary military service; no conscription; service obligation – 18 months (either military or equivalent civil service); 20-30 years of age for National Gendarmerie recruits (35 years of age for those with military experience) (2010)


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 centrepieces of economic policy for the next few years.

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; transhipment point for heroin