World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Africa

Madagascar Travelling Guide
Madagascar Travelling Guide

General background: Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1886, but regained its 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.

Area comparative: Slightly less than twice the size of Arizona.

Climate: Tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south.

Terrain: Narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center.

Population: 16,473,477 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran

Religions: Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%

Language: French (official), Malagasy (official)

Government type: Republic

Capital: Antananarivo

Legal system: Based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: Madagascar faces problems of chronic malnutrition, underfunded health and education facilities, a roughly 3% annual population growth rate, and severe loss of forest cover, accompanied by erosion. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for one-third of GDP and contributing more than 70% to export earnings. Industry features textile manufacturing and the processing of agricultural products. Growth in output in 1992-97 averaged less than the growth rate of the population. Growth has been held back by antigovernment strikes and demonstrations, a decline in world coffee prices, and the erratic commitment of the government to economic reform. The extent of government reforms, outside financial aid, and foreign investment will be key determinants of future growth.

Communication/Telephone system: System is above average for the region.

Places of interest: Madagascar's teeming forests are a naturalist's dream; they've preserved oddities and developed specializations found nowhere else on earth, and you can get among them in a spectacular collection of accessible national parks.

Travel tips: People face food shortages caused by drought, floods and a recent political crisis. Terrorist activities are also high.