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Repoblikan'i Madagasikara (Malagasy)
République de Madagascar (French)
Republic of Madagascar
Flag of Madagascar
Seal of Madagascar
flag seal
Motto : Fitiavana, Tanindrazana, Fandrosoana (love, fatherland, Progress)
Official language Malagasy and French
Capital Antananarivo
Form of government republic
Government system Semi-presidential system of government
Head of state President
Andry Rajoelina (since January 19, 2019)
Head of government Prime Minister
Christian Ntsay (since June 8, 2018)
surface 587,295 km²
population 26,262,368 (2018)
Population density 44 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 2.54% (2016 estimate)
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 12.090 billion ( 137th )
  • $ 42.927 billion ( 116. )
  • 459 USD ( 186. )
  • 1,631 USD ( 182. )
Human Development Index 0.519 ( 161. ) (2017)
currency Ariary (MGA)
independence June 26, 1960 (from France )
National anthem Ry Tanindrazanay Malala ô
Time zone UTC + 3
License Plate RM
ISO 3166 MG , MDG, 450
Internet TLD .mg
Telephone code +261
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Madagascar [ madaˈgaskaɐ̯ ] (officially the Republic of Madagascar , Malagasy Repoblikan'i Madagasikara , French République de Madagascar ) has about 26.3 million inhabitants (as of 2018) and with an area of ​​587,295 square kilometers is the second largest island state in the world after Indonesia . The semi-presidential republic is located off the east coast of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean . The former French colony has the typical economic characteristics of a developing country .


By far the largest land area of ​​the state of Madagascar is taken up by the fourth largest island in the world of the same name , which is sometimes called the "eighth continent " because a very independent nature has emerged through a long isolated development : Madagascar became part of Africa and 150 million years ago Separated from the Indian subcontinent 90 million years ago .

Central Madagascar is a plateau with an average altitude of 1100 meters. It drops steeply and steeply to the east, while the rise in the west is gentler. The plateau culminates in the Maromokotro , the highest mountain on the island at 2,876 meters.


Two thirds of the island are made up of Precambrian rocks that were deformed and metamorphically shaped several times, most recently during the formation of Gondwana 540 million years ago .

In the far east around the Bay of Antongil and near Mananjary , archaic gneisses with an age of 3.2 billion years are exposed , which are correlated with identical rocks in the Dharwar- Kraton in western India . This is followed to the west by a narrow zone with highly metamorphic sedimentary rocks and basalts , which document the remains of a former ocean basin that was subducted at the end of the Precambrian . The central highlands are made up of late Archaic granites and gneisses, into which three large greenstone belts , rich in raw materials, are folded.

In the south of the island there are rocks of the Middle Proterozoic age, which were exposed to particularly high metamorphic temperatures of more than 1000 ° C. The northern part of the island contains young Proterozoic volcanic rocks , granites and sedimentary rocks of an arch of the island , which was not attached until the Cambrian .

The western third of the island is made up of flat sedimentary rocks, the ages of which range from the uppermost Carboniferous to the Cretaceous . The locally coal-bearing rocks were deposited in intramontane basins from the Upper Carboniferous to the Triassic ; Only in the Jura did the Mozambique Channel open, which gave access to the open ocean.

When India separated from the east coast of Madagascar in the Upper Cretaceous , large amounts of basalt were extracted, which is well exposed along a narrow coastal strip. Volcanic activities can be demonstrated from the Neogene to the Pleistocene for the central highlands (with the volcanic field Ankaratra ), the north of the island (volcanic field Ankaizina and stratovolcano Ambre-Bobaomby ) and the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Mitsio to the northwest .

Origin of Madagascar


Madagascar lies in the tropical climate of the south equatorial current. Precipitation decreases continuously from east to southwest. On the west coast, for example, only 500 millimeters fall per year, while on the east coast it can be up to 4000 millimeters regionally. The annual average temperature is 25 ° C, with temperatures on the coasts being higher and in the interior in the highlands can drop below freezing point. Summer and winter correspond to the tropical rainy and dry seasons. Cyclones haunt the island almost every year .

Nature and ecology

Geoecologically, Madagascar is one of the "older islands" in the history of the earth . This is the name given to islands that have been separated from the mainland for a long geological period. There are many endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. This fact, as well as the great diversity of species and biodiversity on the island (which is particularly concentrated on the entire rain-damp east coast), as well as the existence of diverse ecosystems make Madagascar one of the megadiversity countries on earth.

Of the approximately 12,000 species of flowering plants and 109 species of mammals, 80 percent each, of the 250 bird species around half, of the 260 reptile species 95 percent and of the 150 frog species are all endemic. This unique flora and fauna is particularly threatened in Madagascar. Since the island was settled, the disappearance of many animal species has resulted from population growth, hunting, increasing cattle farming, the breakdown of tropical timber and, in particular, the destruction of habitats through slash and burn . Three fifths of the tropical rainforests have already been transformed into savannas or secondary forests in this way . Originally, around 90 percent of Madagascar was forested. Of the 53 million hectares of forest, only about ten percent are preserved today. Because of the endangerment of all landscapes and the surrounding sea, Madagascar is listed as a hotspot of biodiversity .

Madagascan baobab tree ( Adansonia grandidieri )

In the Malagasy constitution, environmental protection is set out as a national goal. According to a government plan, the area of ​​the nature reserves is to be tripled. There are 47 official nature reserves in Madagascar . However, enforcing the protection status is very difficult. For a long time, Masoala National Park was only on paper and was rejected by the local people. Media reports and NGO research suggest that in Madagascar precious woods - especially rosewood called Dalbergia species - continue to be illegally felled and land on the international market.


Before the first settlers arrived, the island was probably almost completely forested. The coastal zones are covered by tropical lowland rainforest , provided that there is sufficient rainfall. Only four percent of the original rainforests have been preserved. The largest contiguous rainforest areas that still exist are on the Masoala Peninsula. From east to west the rainforest gradually changes over the wet savannah into the dry savannah and in the south also the thorn savannah .

Almost 90 percent of the island is only covered by secondary savannahs, attempts at reforestation have so far been largely unsuccessful, and natural recultivation of the fallow land through the forest is almost non-existent. Despite legal bans, about 50 percent of the savannahs are burned down by herdsmen annually, creating an extremely impoverished secondary savannah with resistant but nutrient-poor grasses such as Aristida sp. arises.


Ring -tailed lemur, the best-known species of lemur

Due to its long geographical isolation, Madagascar is home to a unique fauna and flora with a very high proportion of endemic species. The carnivores are only represented in Madagascar by Eupleridae : the Fossa , the Fanaloka , the Falanuk and the Madagascar mongoose . There are also no monkeys and venomous snakes on the island . Animal groups such as the lemurs , however, only occur here.

Another group of animals living almost exclusively in Madagascar are the tenreks . Both the tenreks and the lemurs are considered classic examples of adaptive radiation . The ancestors of both animal groups had already colonized this region when Madagascar split off from the African continent. As a result, these animal families split up into numerous species that occupy different ecological niches. A similar development also took place in the species whose families are distributed worldwide.

Two of the world's 22 grebes are native to Madagascar. The Delacour little grebe is now considered extinct. The Madagascar Little Grebe is classified as endangered by the IUCN . The amber duck , one of the rarest aquatic birds in the world today, is another example of a species found only in Madagascar. The Hovalerche is also one of the endemics of Madagascar .

Of the reptiles , a lot of chameleon species should be emphasized, which are native to Madagascar. This includes, for example, Brookesia micra , the smallest known reptile in the world. Other examples are the panther chameleon ( Furcifer pardalis ) and Furcifer labordi and Furcifer campani .

Around 250 amphibian species are currently inventoried. Among represent Madagascar frogs most of; the other species belong mainly to the narrow-mouth and reed frogs . New amphibian species are still being discovered and described while their habitat is being rapidly destroyed.

The family of the Malagasy rainbow fish ( Bedotiidae ) with 14 scientifically described and several undescribed species occurs only in fresh water in the eastern part of the island. Many of them are listed by the IUCN as at least "endangered".

Madagascar had a distinct, but now extinct, megafauna , such as the huge elephant birds , various types of giant lemurs, such as Megaladapis and Palaeopropithecus, and three types of Malagasy hippopotamus .

A number of butterflies, moths and butterflies are also endemic, such as For example, the comet moth ( Argema mittrei ) leading to the Ritter moths counting Pharmacophagus antenor or the colorful Chrysiridia rhipheus , (Rainbow moth), which is a protected species.



Spread of Homo sapiens (red) according to the Out-of-Africa theory

Although located off the coast of East Africa, the presumed cradle of mankind , Madagascar is one of the last human-settled areas on earth. Conservative estimates date the first human presence on the island around 350 BC. The origin of the first inhabitants is unclear, although based on linguistic and genetic knowledge it is assumed that Madagascar was settled from East Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East .

Madagascar was initially sparsely populated. Only with an increasing population did kingdoms emerge, of which those of the Sakalava and Merina as well as the Betsileo became the most important.

European voyages by boat

On August 10, 1500, the Portuguese navigator Diogo Dias was the first European to sight Madagascar and named the island São Lorenço after the name day of Lawrence of Rome . The island later appeared on Portuguese maps as Santa Apolonia as well as France occidentale and île Dauphine before it was named "Madagascar". After the most important European trading companies had established trading bases on the routes in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar played only a subordinate role in trade. From 1641 onwards, the Netherlands and later also traders traveling under British or American sovereignty used the island to abduct slaves for their colony Mauritius , benefiting from frequent ethnic conflicts among the indigenous population. The offshore island of Sainte Marie served as a trading hub. A first French colonization attempt (1643–1672) initially failed. In addition, pirates used Madagascar as a base in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Kingdom of the Merina

Ranavalona I (1828–1861)
Ranavalona III. (1861-1917)

With the rule of Andrianampoinimerina from 1787 to 1810 , which unified the Merina, a modern state was established on the island for the first time . Andrianampoinimerina was initially king of Ambohimanga until 1794 . In 1794 he conquered the small kingdom of Antananarivo and moved his official residence to today's capital. Gradually, Andrianampoinimerina expanded his sphere of influence to large parts of the island, but especially in the south of the country he was unable to fully consolidate the state due to strong resistance. Under Andrianampoinimerina's autocratic rule, the state was modernized, including a new penal code; He divided his subjects into box-like groups and thus contributed to a rigid and unequal stratification of those.

His son Radama I , who succeeded him to the throne, opened the island to foreign countries, primarily seeking contacts with the United Kingdom, which was fighting with France for supremacy in the Indian Ocean. He reorganized the army on the English model. During his reign there were the first industrial settlements of the English on the east coast. English missionaries translated the Bible into Malagasy and introduced the Latin script.

Traditional historiography sees the reign of his widow and successor Ranavalona I , who ruled from 1828 to 1861, as a relapse from the Enlightenment to authoritarian isolationism . In 1835/36 it banned almost all foreigners from the island and reduced relations with other countries to a minimum.

Radama II. (1861–1863) was the son of Ranavalona I. He was moderate and began to establish contacts abroad again during his brief reign. However, not everyone liked his liberal course and he was murdered after only two years in office.

Rasoherina (1863–1868) was the (first) widow of Radama II. Rasoherina turned to the English during her reign. She married the Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony , who exercised actual power and subsequently also married the two successors on the royal throne.

The second widow of Radama II, Ranavalona II. (1868-1883), introduced Protestantism as the state religion. The traditional ancestral cult was only slightly affected by this and continues to exist today alongside Christianity and Islam. In 1883 the French tried again to gain a foothold in Madagascar. A two-year bloody war began.

The last Merina queen of Madagascar, Ranavalona III. (1883–1896), was the niece of her predecessor. She came to the throne during the French invasion. The Malagasy army succeeded again in repelling the invaders. In 1896 the French were finally able to prevail and set up a French protectorate in Madagascar. Ranavalona III. was forced to abdicate by the French colonial power and sent into exile in Algeria .

French colonial times

French war of conquest poster (1895)
Obligation of CHF 500 from the French colony of Madagascar dated May 7, 1897
Colonial Postage Stamp (1908)

The first diplomatic relations between the German Empire and the Malagasy kingdom were enshrined in a friendship treaty in 1883 . The goal of the Malagasy government to win Germany as an ally against the threat of French colonization was not achieved.

At the Congo Conference in 1885, Madagascar was awarded France as an "area of ​​interest". In 1896 France was able to establish itself as a colonial power against the resistance of many Madagascans . In the same year, the last Queen of Madagascar, Ranavalona III , became a manifestation and symbol of the takeover . discontinued; Madagascar was now a French colony . In the following half a century, French entrepreneurs exploited deposits of mica and graphite and operated coffee and rice plantations . The local population was massively suppressed by the apartheid- like system of the Code de l'indigénat . Two nationalist rebellions in 1915 and 1929 were put down by France.

During the Second World War , Madagascar was initially ruled by a Vichy-loyal colonial administration. In 1940, in the so-called Madagascar Plan , the Nazi regime considered the deportation of European Jews to Madagascar. British troops landed in Madagascar in 1942 and captured the island within six months (May to November). With the landing, Great Britain supposedly wanted to forestall a landing by the Japanese. At the end of the war, the United Kingdom gave the island to the liberated part of France under Charles de Gaulle .

During the colonial period of 1896–1960, the French ruled with military force. In 1945 the Mouvement démocratique de la rénovation malgache ( MDRM ) (French for: Democratic Movement for the Renewal of Madagascar ), PANAMA and JINA were founded, striving for (limited) independence . At the end of March 1947 there was an uprising against the colonial power in the north of the island. In the first two weeks, the rebels killed 200 French soldiers and managed to take control of an area the size of Austria (one seventh of the total area). France then dispatched 18,000 soldiers who put down the rebellion by the end of 1948. According to the prevailing opinion, around 90,000 Madagascans were killed, although there are voices that the actual number of victims would not have exceeded 10,000. Due to the military inferiority and poor organization of the rebels, the uprising was suppressed by French troops, the leaders of the MDRM were arrested and many of them were executed. Thousands of people suspected of the uprising were tortured and taken to a camp in Nosy Lava .

The most popular liberation organization MDRM was accused by the colonial administration of organizing the uprising, although it was probably organized by the secret organizations PANAMA and JINA. The MDRM rejected the uprising.

According to the Loi Lamine Guèye of 1946, all citizens had the right to vote in elections to the French parliament and also in local elections. It was a two-tier voting system that gave citizens of French origin advantages. The right to stand as a candidate was not specifically mentioned in the law, but it was not excluded either.

Martial law remained in place until 1950. All political activities were banned until 1955.

In 1956 the loi-cadre Defferre was introduced and with it the active and passive general suffrage, including women's suffrage .

The MDRM was completely smashed.


First republic

Parade on Independence Day
Tsiranana, 3rd from left, in Berlin 1962

In 1958 Madagascar became a republic in the Communauté française . On April 29, 1959, the right to vote was confirmed.

Madagascar was the third country to finally achieve independence in the “ African Year ” on June 26, 1960. The first elections took place in 1960. As early as 1958, the Parti social démocrate (PSD) had massively recruited members, so that it was the dominant party in the first election periods of the new republic; In 1960 she received 104 of the 107 seats in the first Malagasy parliament with 88.2 percent of all votes. The PSD (supported by the SPD and Mapai ) had a social democratic course and initially cultivated a nostalgia for Gaullism , which gave way to more nationalistic rhetoric in the late 1960s .

In 1971 the country was shaken by peasant unrest. Tsiranana was the only candidate in the presidential election on January 30, 1972; he received over 99 percent of the votes cast. The opposition, led by the intellectual Merina, decided to hold large demonstrations against the president. On May 18, 1972, Tsiranana appointed General Gabriel Ramanantsoa to be Prime Minister. Ramanantsoa held a referendum on October 8 and became President of Madagascar three days later. He led a military dictatorship . He resigned on February 5, 1975; his successor was the previous Minister of the Interior Richard Ratsimandrava . Ratsimandrava was murdered on February 11, 1975. He was followed by General Gilles Andriamahazo (until June 15, 1975).

Socialist republic

In 1975, as a result of broad citizen protests, a strongly socialist regime under Didier Ratsiraka came to power, which nationalized the financial market dominated by foreign banks and insurance companies and divided it into three banking institutions - Banque Nationale de l'Industrie , Agricultural Bank and Trade Bank - and two insurance institutions - ARO and NY Havana - consolidated. A number of multinational industrial groups were also nationalized, the distribution of agricultural products became a state monopoly , so that the agricultural sector was also largely socialized. In particular, the inefficiency resulting from these nationalization measures in the agricultural sector hit the Malagasy economy hard in the following decade: annual economic growth fluctuated between minus two and one percent in these years; Even staple foods such as rice were no longer produced in sufficient quantities in the first half of the 1980s, so that regional famines arose. Under these circumstances a large black market and high unemployment arose ; Many Kung Fu clubs recruited members from the pool of unemployed people who took part in street and gang fights without initiating an open political rebellion. Despite this poor economic and social development, there was no effective resistance against the ruling avant-garde de la Révolution Malgache for a long time . On the one hand, Ratsiraka and its supporters succeeded in building a powerful informal network within the state institutions and the ruling party and in significantly weakening the military; on the other hand, there were no opposition parties with a significant degree of organization.

Third Republic

In 1992, Ratsiraka was ousted from office by a broad opposition movement, les Forces Vives ; as a result, a new constitution , which substantially restricted the power of the president , ushered in the Third Republic. Through them Madagascar became a semi-presidential republic , the first president of which was ousted after four years because he exceeded his constitutional powers .

Then in 1996 Didier Ratsiraka of the Association pour la Renaissance de Madagascar (short AREMA, about "Association for the rebirth of Madagascar", today's name Avant-garde pour la rénovation de Madagascar , about "Avant-garde / Vanguard for the reconstruction of Madagascar"), which in in the 1970s as a unity party under the name Avant-garde de la Révolution Malgache (“Vanguard of the Malagasy Revolution”) held power, elected the new president with a narrow majority, but sworn in only after some hesitation by the constitutional court .

Shortly after he was sworn in in mid-1998, Ratsiraka implemented a constitutional amendment that gave him more power. In April 2001 the second chamber, the Senate, was elected for the first time.

In the presidential elections on December 16, 2001, Marc Ravalomanana did not officially receive an absolute majority (46 percent), but refused to face a second round because he had received his information after 52 percent of the vote. On April 28, the Constitutional Court issued a new result, according to which he had won with 51.3 percent (compared to 35 percent for the previous president). Ravalomanana was declared the winner by the Constitutional Court. In between there were turbulent months with conditions similar to civil war. The previous president Didier Ratsiraka fled, Ravalomanana called for general strikes , and 30 to 40 people died. Even if the situation has now stabilized again, dissatisfaction and poverty are still very widespread among the population.

Demonstration in Antananarivo in January 2009

On November 18, 2006, General Fidy Andrianafidisoa attempted to overthrow the president in a military coup. In the presidential elections on December 3, 2006, the incumbent Ravalomanana prevailed with 54.8 percent of the votes in the first ballot and was sworn in on January 19, 2007 for a second term. The previous Minister of the Interior, Charles Rabemananjara , became the new Prime Minister .

In the spring of 2009, protests against the Ravalomanana government, accused of personal enrichment, led to another overthrow of the government . Andry Rajoelina , Mayor of Antananarivo , managed to get the Malagasy military on his side, so that Ravalomanana abdicated and fled into exile. From the end of March 2009 a democratically illegitimate transitional government ruled under Rajoelina, which was exposed to international diplomatic sanctions.

Thanks to the international mediation led by the Development Community of Southern Africa (SADC), a roadmap to end the crisis was drawn up on September 17, 2011, which was supported by most political groups. He identified important steps and measures on the way to elections and the return to democracy and the rule of law.

Elections in Madagascar , monitored by the international community, were held on October 25, 2013. For the election of the president, a runoff election on December 20, 2013 was necessary, which the finance minister of the transitional government Hery Rajaonarimampianina won and was sworn in as president in January 2014.

One of the few open and therefore critical points on the return to the rule of law was the question of the role of former President Marc Ravalomanana . He returned on October 13, 2014 after five years of exile and was "brought to safety" shortly after his arrival in Antananarivo, as he indirectly called for a coup.

The presidential elections in Madagascar took place on November 7, 2018. The four former presidents of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana and Didier Ratsiraka took part. On December 19, there was a runoff between Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, which Rajoelina won. He took office on January 19, 2019.


According to current estimates, the population of Madagascar exceeded 25 million in 2017.

Demographic development until 2003
Population pyramid of Madagascar 2016

The median age of the Malagasy population is 19.5 years, the median for men being 19.3 years and that for women 19.7 years (as of 2016). This low age is due to a fertility rate of 4.12 children per woman and a high annual population growth of 2.54 percent. According to the UN's mean population forecast, a population of over 53 million is expected for the year 2050 and approx. 98 million for the year 2100.


Ethnographic map of Madagascar

Most of the ethnic Madagascans have developed a common identity through the common language, Malagasy ; however, the social institutions and traditions differ considerably along different subgroups, the focus . The Malagasy state officially recognizes 18 such “main ethnic groups”. The Merina , who until the end of the 19th century maintained their own state in the center and southwest of the country, in which they suppressed a number of other focus (s) , is the largest of these groups. Around 1970 they numbered about 1.6 million people. The Betsileo , who were subjugated by the Merina around 1830, are very similar to those in their way of life, in that they mainly cultivate irrigation, but only have about half as many members. Betsileo have developed a more efficient rice cultivation, while Merina produce more goods. The Zafimaniry , a subgroup of the Betsileo, are known for their wood carving art, which was added to the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.

Further foci that were subjugated by the Merina in the 19th century are the Sihanaka and the Bezanozano , which had around 135,000 and 44,000 members respectively around 1970. Together with the Tsimihety, who numbered around 428,000 in 1970, and the Tankarana , which were not officially recognized as Foko , these groups operate a mixture of farming and allotment gardening. Sihanaka settle mainly in the central highlands of the island.

Antakaran̈a , the second smallest Foko , whose identity emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries, are mainly present in the northwest of the island.

Antaimoro , who see themselves in the same line of tradition as the Muslims who immigrated in the 15th century and formed the aristocratic caste of the kingdom of Antaimoro, which emerged in the 16th century and was dissolved in 1894, settle mainly in the coastal area southeast of Ikongos .

Antaifasy live mainly on the southeast coast.

Other state-recognized foci are:

There are also a number of smaller groups like the hunter-gatherers of Mikea between An̈alabo and Lake Ihotry are located.

In addition to Madagascans, Comorians , French, Chinese and Indians also live on the island . In 2017, 0.1% of the population was born abroad, making the country one of the lowest proportions of foreigners in the world. Madagascar itself is a country of emigration. In 2017 there were around 120,000 Madagascans living in France.



The Malagasy ancestor worship is one for almost all Madagascans to their religion. Also the idea of fady , fixed rules, what to leave in certain places or at certain times or at least not to do out of consideration for the expected negative consequences, is also common among officially Christian or Muslim Madagascans. Since one of the two partners officially accepts the religion of the other partner in interdenominational marriages, all these figures should be read with caution.


Madagascar is mainly united by the common language Malagasy , which is spoken by the majority of all Madagascans . An exception is the immigrant in a few west coast villages Mozambicans who Makoa speak, and the people on Nosy Be , where bilingual Swahili gives spokesman.

In addition to Malagasy, French - the only official language during the colonial era - is the official language . From 2007 to 2010, English was also the official language of Madagascar. The most important publications appear in French.



Life expectancy

In 2016, life expectancy among women was 67.4 years and life expectancy among men was 64.3 years. The fertility rate is 4.12 children per woman. The infant mortality rate is 42 per 1,000 live births, the maternal mortality rate 353 per 100,000 live births. Every second child is malnourished. The proportion of undernourished people in the total population was 42.3% in 2015, making it one of the highest in the world. In Madagascar there are around 16 doctors for every 100,000 people. Government spending on health was 3% of GDP in 2014 according to the CIA World Factbook and 2.7% in 2009 according to UNDP .

Development of life expectancy in Madagascar over time

Period Life expectancy (in years) Period Life expectancy (in years)
1950-1955 36.2 1985-1990 49.9
1955-1960 38.8 1990-1995 52.7
1960-1965 41.2 1995-2000 56.7
1965-1970 43.5 2000-2005 60.0
1970-1975 46.0 2005-2010 62.2
1975-1980 48.1 2010-2015 64.5
1980-1985 49.7

Source: UN

Drinking water supply

According to the WHO and UNICEF, less than one in two islanders has access to clean drinking water , which has been a human right according to the UN since 2010 ; Mainly the urban areas are supplied with a focus in the metropolitan area of ​​Antananarivo.


The plague , which reached Madagascar in 1898, has been endemic since the 1920s . Cases occur again and again, especially in the rainy season. Between 2014 and the end of November, around 120 infections were confirmed, from which up to 50 people died. At the beginning of September 2017, another plague epidemic broke out, spreading rapidly to the capital Antananarivo. It was not until the beginning of 2018 that the outbreak of the epidemic could be contained with the help of plague treatment centers and health agents who checked patient contacts with a rapid test for the plague pathogen. A total of 2348 people fell ill, about 10% of whom died of the plague.

In 2012, 1474 new cases of leprosy were registered in Madagascar .

In 2015, the estimated HIV rate among the adult population was 0.36%.

Malaria is endemic to Madagascar. Between 2010 and 2016, the average number of malaria cases rose from 14 to 20 per 1000 inhabitants. The flat stretches of coast in the east and west had particularly high case numbers of more than 50 per 1000 inhabitants.


About a third of the population is illiterate . The illiteracy rate is far higher among young women than among men. Public spending on education was 18 percent of government spending. Madagascar has six universities located in the capital and provincial capitals, as well as a National Institute for Nuclear Sciences.


Political conditions

The political system of Madagascar is constitutionally a centralized , presidential republic with a directly elected president and a bicameral system : the National Assembly has 160 members elected for four years. The second chamber, the Senate, represents the six provinces of Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, ​​Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara. A third of the Senate members are appointed by the President, the rest are elected. Each province has a provincial parliament, whose members are directly elected by the respective state people. The heads of government of the individual provinces are appointed by the president. In the course of moderate decentralization, Madagascar was also divided into 22 regions. They are also headed by bosses appointed by the president.

In the 2019 democracy index of the British magazine The Economist, Madagascar ranks 85th out of 167 countries and is therefore considered a “hybrid regime” of democratic and authoritarian elements. In recent years, Madagascar has seen an upward trend in this ranking. In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “partially free”.

Human rights

According to the Foreign Office (Federal Republic of Germany), there have been no systematic violations of human rights so far, but certain human rights are impaired in everyday practice, which is characterized by great poverty and bureaucratic difficulties. Around a quarter of citizens cannot exercise their right to vote because they do not have an identity card. The death penalty is imposed but has not been carried out since independence. Child labor and child prostitution pose serious problems.

Amnesty International reported in 2010 that in Madagascar, security forces arrested and detained people without legal basis. They used excessive force against demonstrators and physically attacked journalists and leading members of the opposition. According to Amnesty International, those responsible for such human rights violations are only called to account in individual cases. In 2018, AI continued to criticize the judicial system for slow judicial processes and overcrowded prisons.

In the past, political opponents of the government were repeatedly tried in unfair trials.

freedom of speech

Journalists face harassment and intimidation, according to Amnesty International. At least three radio stations were banned by the government in 2010. On October 6, 2010, officials from the Ministry of Communications shut down the foto-tra radio station . The station belonged to the leader of the Green Party, Saraha Georget Rabeharisoa . She wanted to run for the presidency.

Ten employees of Radio Fahazavàna, the radio station for the Reformed Protestant Church in Madagascar, were arrested and detained in May 2010. The station was closed by the Ministry of Communications. The staff were allowed to leave the prison in September 2010 subject to conditions.

Women's rights

In rural regions, women often have a higher level of education than men and are increasingly becoming the agents of agricultural development. In business and administration, women are in the minority in management positions, even if their total share of the workforce is 40 percent. Women are severely underrepresented in parliament and in government.

Security policy

In April 2010, according to Amnesty International at the Université d'Antananarivo ( Antsiranana province ) at least one student was shot dead by a security officer during a demonstration. An independent investigation into the incident did not take place.

Political opponents of the transitional government and supporters of former President Marc Ravalomanana were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the security forces in 2010. In 2010, 18 prisoners started a hunger strike.

Again and again there were arbitrary detentions of opponents of the transitional government. The former head of the security department at the Constitutional Court of Madagascar, Ralitera Andriamalala Andrianandraina, and several opposition members were arrested.

Foreign policy

States in which Madagascar has set up an embassy (blue) or a consulate (light blue)

Until the so-called socialist revolution in 1975, Madagascar maintained relations exclusively with the western world , but then opened up to both sides. The People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union then opened embassies in Madagascar.

Relations with the West were damaged and only returned to normal after a few years. France in particular has great interest in the former colony. After the end of the Cold War , Russia lost interest in the island state, while China continued to provide development aid; it received immigration permits for 20,000 Chinese citizens in exchange for building the Sports Palace.

The country maintains good relations with Germany, which mainly provides development aid through the Society for Technical Cooperation .


Madagascar spent almost 0.6 percent of its economic output or 67 million US dollars on its armed forces in 2017.

Administrative division

Madagascar is divided into 22 regions , which in turn are divided into 119 fivondronana (circles). The municipalities form the lowest administrative level. The Fokontany (districts or villages) are self-governing.

On April 4, 2007, Ravalomanana held a referendum on an amendment to the constitution, which established a new administrative structure without provinces (faritany mizakatena) from October 2009.

Regions of Madagascar
region Population
Old Province No. in
per km²
Alaotra Mangoro 973.216 31,948 Toamasina 11 30.46
Amoron'i Mania 677.508 16,141 Fianarantsoa 14th 41.97
Analamanga 3,173,077 16,911 Antananarivo 4th 187.63
Analanjirofo 980.817 21,930 Toamasina 13 44.73
Androy 695.423 19,317 Toliara 21st 36.00
Anosy 636.554 25,731 Toliara 22nd 24.74
Atsimo-Andrefana 1,247,663 66,236 Toliara 20th 18.84
Atsimo-Atsinanana 851.545 18,863 Fianarantsoa 17th 45.14
Atsinanana 1,204,006 21,934 Toamasina 12 54.89
Betsiboka 278.120 30,025 Mahajanga 9 9.26
Boeny 757.714 31,046 Mahajanga 8th 24.41
Bongolava 433,369 16,688 Antananarivo 6th 25.97
Diana 663.289 19,266 Antsiranana 1 34.43
Haute Matsiatra 1,136,260 21,080 Fianarantsoa 15th 53.90
Ihorombe 295.920 26,391 Fianarantsoa 18th 11.21
Itasy 694 381 06,993 Antananarivo 3 99.30
Melaky 274,399 38,852 Mahajanga 10 7.06
Menabe 561.043 46.121 Toliara 19th 12.17
Sava 929,342 25,518 Antsiranana 2 36.42
Sofia 1,181,603 50,100 Mahajanga 7th 23.59
Vakinankaratra 1,708,685 16,599 Antananarivo 5 102.93
Vatovavy-Fitovinany 1,342,135 19,605 Fianarantsoa 16 68.46


In 2016, 35.7% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The largest cities in Madagascar in mid-2014 are:

  1. Antananarivo , 1,334,300 inhabitants
  2. Toamasina , 282,100 inhabitants
  3. Antsirabe , 244,900 inhabitants
  4. Mahajanga , 226,600 inhabitants
  5. Fianarantsoa , 195,500 inhabitants


Cane ship


The economy of Madagascar bears typical traits of a developing country . According to the International Monetary Fund , gross domestic product in 2012, taking into account purchasing power parity, amounted to 21.26 billion US dollars , which corresponds to 949 US dollars per inhabitant. Madagascar is still one of the poorest countries in the world: In 2003, the proportion of the population with less than US $ 1 a day was 49%. Due to the high population growth combined with weak economic growth, the per capita gross domestic product fell by 42% from independence in 1960 to 2014. The Gini coefficient was 0.48 in 2004, which reflects a relatively high income inequality. The World Bank approved annual aid of USD 260 million for 3 years in February 2016.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Madagascar ranks 128th out of 138 countries (as of 2016/17). In 2017, the country was ranked 113th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ). In 2006 Madagascar was canceled a large part of the national debt.

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
7.82 billion 9.28 billion 12.39 billion 13.75 billion 18.00 billion 22.72 billion 24.68 billion 26.97 billion 29.48 billion 28.78 billion 28.72 billion 29.74 billion 31.20 billion 32.42 billion 34.10 billion 35.54 billion 37.50 billion 39.77 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
895 929 1,073 1,022 1,143 1,242 1.311 1,392 1,479 1,381 1,362 1,372 1,400 1,414 1,446 1,466 1,504 1,551
GDP growth
0.8% 1.2% 3.1% 1.7% 4.5% 4.8% 5.4% 6.4% 7.2% −4.7% 0.3% 1.5% 3.0% 2.3% 3.3% 3.1% 4.2% 4.1%
(in percent)
18.3% 10.6% 11.9% 49.0% 10.7% 18.4% 10.8% 10.3% 9.3% 9.0% 9.2% 9.5% 5.7% 5.8% 6.1% 7.4% 6.7% 8.1%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... 118% 116% 107% 86% 37% 33% 31% 34% 32% 32% 33% 34% 35% 36% 38% 37%

Foreign trade

The main export products are coffee , fishery products , vanilla , cloves and sugar as well as mining products, especially nickel , ilmenite sands and graphite . Food, capital goods , consumer goods and oil are imported . In 2015, goods worth $ 2.3 billion were exported and $ 3.2 billion imported.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised (estimated) expenditures of the equivalent of 1.616 billion US dollars ; this contrasted with revenues of the equivalent of 1.171 billion US dollars. This resulted in a budget deficit of 4.6 percent of the gross domestic product .

The national debt in 2003 was 4.8 billion US dollars or 88.4 percent of the gross domestic product, since then parts of the country's national debt have been canceled . In 2016, debt was 42.3% of economic output.

Share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) in the following areas (year in brackets):



In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, Madagascar was ranked 128th out of 160 countries in 2018.


Milestone on Route Nationale N ° 7

Most of the traffic in Madagascar is handled on the 49,638 km long road network, of which 5289 km are paved. Within the cities, human or animal-powered vehicles are often used. The most important overland routes are the busiest route Nationale 1 , which runs from Antananarivo via Analavory to Tsiroanomandidy , the economically most important route Nationale 2 , which connects the capital with the port of Toamasina , and route Nationale 4 between Antananarivo and Mahajanga .


Manampatrana FCE railway station , 2004

Rail transport in Madagascar was operated for a long time by the state Réseau national des chemins de fer malagasy , but in the course of privatization , rail transport was licensed to Madarail in 2003 for 25 years . The 1030-kilometer route network consists of two units, of which the Tananarive-Côte-Est Line ( TCE ) , built between 1901 and 1913, connects the capital with the east coast port of Toamasina, while the Fianarantsoa-Côte-Est Line ( FCE ) connects the Betsileo capital in the highlands connects with the port city of Manakara. The TCE, built between 1926 and 1936, has two branch lines from Antananarivo to Antsirabe and between Moramanga and Lac Alaotra ; four of the eight most important cities are thus connected to the small railway network.


Toamasina seaport

By far the most important sea ​​port is Toamasina, where 68 percent of Malagasy shipping traffic was loaded in 2005. Due to their natural characteristics, the inland waterways are often only suitable for canoes and are therefore, with the exception of the Betsiboka , which is navigable over a length of 80 kilometers, of subordinate and local importance.


Air Madagascar propeller
plane on Sainte Marie

Due to the often poor road conditions, air traffic within Madagascar was already of great importance in the 1950s; 58 of the approximately 400 airfields were served by scheduled flights at that time . Today, the state-operated monopoly in Madagascar, Air Madagascar, flies to 40 Malagasy destinations. At the airline's aviation hub , Antananarivo International Airport , which connects the capital with Paris , Johannesburg and Bangkok among others , slightly more than half of the passenger traffic was handled in 2006 with 682,704 passengers. In 2015 Malagasy air traffic was liberalized; As a result, the newly founded airline Madagasikara Airways took over flights within Madagascar from November 2015.


Madagascar's telecommunications network is lagging behind. Advances in cellular technology resulted in 39.38 cell phone connections per 100 population in 2012. In 2016, 4.2% of the population used the internet.


There are numerous privately operated radio stations on the island that can also be received as a live stream . In addition, shortwave transmitters are partly operated by religious communities, such as the Madagascar World Voice of the radio mission company World Christian Broadcasting (WCB) , but also the national national service Radio Nasionalny Malagasy . Relay broadcasts etc. are also sent via the latter facility. a. for Adventist World Radio , BBC World Service and Deutsche Welle in Swahili .



In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Madagascar was ranked 57th out of 180 countries. According to the non-governmental organization, there are “recognizable problems” with the situation of press freedom in the country, but it is still one of the better in an intra-African comparison.

The newspaper readership rate is rather low with around three daily newspapers per 1000 inhabitants. In 1992 four French-language daily newspapers appeared, of which Midi Madagasikara was the largest with 25,000 daily copies. La Gazette de la Grande Ile 15,000, Madagascar Tribune had a circulation of 12,000, L'Express de Madagascar 7,000 and Maresaka 5,000; Basy Vava , Imongo and Vaovao , which appear on Malagasy, achieved a combined circulation of 10,000.

On average, around every 25th Madagascan has a television, while around 12 radios per 100 inhabitants are in use.


  • Mervyn Brown: A History of Madagascar . Wiener, Princeton 2002, ISBN 1-55876-292-2 .
  • Wolfgang Därr , Klaus Heimer: Madagascar . 7th edition. Reise Know-How Verlag, Bielefeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-8317-2060-6 (comprehensive travel guide for individual and organized travelers).
  • Mark Eveleigh: Madagascar - the sixth continent . Goldmann, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-442-71192-4 (on foot from the north to the south coast through the western part of Madagascar).
  • Michael Flach, Corina Haase: Madagasikara. Island of my dreams . Cuno, Calbe (Saale) 2007, ISBN 978-3-935971-40-9 (extensive illustrated book).
  • Steven M. Goodman, Jonathan P. Benstead: The Natural History of Madagascar . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2003, ISBN 0-226-30307-1 .
  • Gabriel Gravier: La cartographie de Madagascar . Martino, Mansfield Center 2002, ISBN 1-57898-400-9 (reprint of the Rouen & Paris 1896 edition).
  • Franz Stadelmann , Ellen Spinnler (photos): Madagascar. Tropical wonders in the Indian Ocean. Text-illustrated book. Stürtz, Würzburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-8003-4860-2
  • Pierre Verin: Madagascar . Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2005, ISBN 3-86583-022-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Madagascar  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Madagascar  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Madagascar  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Madagascar  - Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 19 °  S , 47 °  E