Madagascar By | Saturday, September 8  2012 at  15:49

Full Name
Republic of Madagascar (English)
République Malgache (French)
Repoblikan'i Madagasikara (Malagasy)
Origins of name – Uncertain; It is speculated that Marco Polo may have named it as ‘Madeigascar’ after the Arab name for Mogadishu, ‘Mogadiscio’

Current Leader

Hery Rajaonarimampianina

Overview
Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island
Was an independent Kingdom before it became a French colony in 1896
Attained independence on June 26, 1960
Home to many species of flora and fauna that exist nowhere else in the World

Form of Government
Republic
President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term
Prime Minister is appointed by the President

Government Structure
Chief of State (President), Head of Government (Prime Minister), Cabinet (Council of Ministers)

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for service: Male; 4,443,341 and Female; 4,441,124
Expenditures: 1% GDP
Branches: People's Armed Forces, Intervention Force, Development Force, and Aero-naval Force (navy and air); National Gendarmerie

Former Rulers
1960 – 1972 Philibert Tsiranana
1972 – 1975 Gabriel Ramanantsoa
1975 Richard Ratsimandrava
1975 – 1993 Didier Ratsiraka
1993 – 1996 Albert Zafy
1996 - 1997 Norbert Ratsirahonana
1997 – 2002 Didier Ratsiraka
2002 – 2009 Marc Ravalomanana
2009 – January 2014 Andry Rajoelina

Capital
Antananarivo
Altitude: 1289 metres
Population: 1,391,433 people

Population
Size: 20,696,070 (2011)
Life expectancy: 62.89 years
Gender Make-Up: Female – 51.01%, Male - 48.09%

Geography
Area: 226,657 square miles
Land boundaries: n/a

Major Languages
Malagasy, French

Religious portfolio
Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%

National Make-up
Malay-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran

Natural Resources
Graphite, Chromite, Coal, Bauxite, Salt, Quartz, Tar sands, Semiprecious stones, Mica, Fish, Hydropower

Main exports
Vanilla, Coffee, Seafood, Cloves, Petroleum products, Chromium, Fabrics
Main export partners - China, France, South Africa, Iran 6.8, India 4.1% (2003)

Land Use
Arable land: 5.03%
Permanent crops: 1.02%
Other: 93.95%

Monetary Unit/Currency
Ariary

GDP Per Capita

$972 (2011)

$964(2010)

Dialling Code
+261

Internet Code
.mg

Transport
Main Port: Tamatave (Toamasina)
Airport: Antananarivo (TNR) located 17km from the City

Modern issues

Environmental
Deforestation (more than 80% of the forests have gone. Illegal logging of Rosewood, forest Ebony and other precious hardwoods is on the rise
Soil erosion (due to Tavy or slash and burn to clear land for agriculture)
Overexploitation of living resources including hunting and over-collection of species from the wild

Political
Andry Rajoelina is currently heading a power-sharing transitional government after he overthrew Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009 with the help of the military

Getting Mr. Rajoelina to commit to key political reforms has been tough and despite having a new cabinet, cracks have already begun to emerge with resignations becoming the order of the day

Economic
Mr Rajoelina’s takeover was deemed unconstitutional and as a result, many donor nations (including the US) and several donor agencies have stopped aid to the nation

Social
There is an undercurrent of tension in Madagascar between the highlanders and coastal people
Since the March 2009 coup, Madagascar’s poverty has deepened significantly

The economy continues to falter and one consequence of this is the rise of sex tourism and child prostitution
Malaria is the largest health problem in Madagascar

Foreign Affairs
Claims to the ‘Iles Eparses’ which have been French possessions since 1897; Madagascar continues to refute French sovereignty over the Islands. However, this does not affect the close ties Madagascar has with France

The Major Conflicts

Malagasy Revolt
When: 1947 - 1948
Who: Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malagache (MDRM) VS French Government
Why: Movement for Madagascar’s independence
Outcome: French soldiers received reinforcements which suppressed the movement but more than 11,000 people were killed and the movement continued as a guerrilla war through 1948

Monima Revolt
When: 1971
Who: National Movement for the Independence of Madagascar (Mouvement National pour l'Indépendance de Madagascar-Monima) VS French Government
Why: Movement for Madagascar’s Independence, started as a peasants revolt against the government’s tax collections
Outcome: French quickly suppressed the revolt Monima leaders were arrested and deported to Nosy Lava

Madagascar’s Coup
When: 2009
Who: Andry Rajoelina (Antananarivo’s Mayor) and Military VS Marc Ravalomanana’s Government
Why: Rajoelina claimed Ravalomanana was a dictator with no consideration for the poor
Outcome: Andry Rajoelina is now the President of the High Transitional Authority until the next elections

What to see?
The Tsingy: World Heritage Site of eroded limestone formations that form a ‘forest’ of stone
Flora and Fauna: Have developed in isolation from other parts of the world and are therefore very unique; of the 202 species of bird, 105 are not found anywhere else in the world, there are 28 varieties of lemur and 32 species of chameleon

Sports
Popular Sports
Athletics
Judo
Football
Tennis
Basketball

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Dally Randriantefy: Professional tennis player who retired in 2006

Quirks
The traditional ‘Turning of the Bones’ or ‘famadihana’ ceremony: the corpses of the ‘razana’ (ancestors) are removed from their tombs, cleaned and wrapped in a new shroud before becoming guests of honour at a party that may last several day - it is hoped that this will keep the powerful ancestors happy so that they will intervene positively in the lives of the family
The current President, Andry Rajoelina, was a former DJ.