|Official name||Republic of Madagascar|
|Foundation of a state||6/26/1960|
|The highest mountains||Maromokotro 2876 m|
|Longest rivers||Mangoky 560 km|
|State system||a pluralist republic with a unicameral parliament|
|The biggest cities||Antananarivo (capital) 1,350,000, Toamasina 175,000, Fianarantsoa 145,000, Mahajanga 135,000|
|Official language||Malagasy and French|
|Ethnicity/National Composition||Malagasy 99%, others 1%|
|Religious affiliation||traditional African faith 47%, Roman Catholic 26%, Protestant 23%, other Christian 2%, Muslim 1.5%|
|Currency||1 Malagasy Franc (FMg) = 100 centimes|
|gross domestic product (GDP)||US$945 (2012)|
|Average life expectancy of the population||57.34 years (2006)|
|Structure of GDP||agriculture and fishing 40%, mining 5%, industry 13%, construction 4%, services 38%|
Madagascar is a large island nation off the southeast coast of Africa opposite Mozambique. Its people and their culture are very different from the rest of Africa, and the country also has a unique and rich nature.
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It arose about fifty million years ago by breaking away from the African continent.
Most of the island is filled by a vast plateau divided tectonically and by river flows into a series of medium-high mountain massifs. The highest is the Tsaratanana volcanic massif with the Maromokotro peak in the north of the country. There are lakes in the craters of extinct volcanoes and the area is also seismically active. In the north and south, the mountains drop steeply to the rocky coast, in the east by a fault slope into a narrow coastal plain with lagoons lined with coral beaches. Only in the west does the plateau gradually descend into the more extensive coastal plains. Rivers from the eastern slopes flow rapidly into the Indian Ocean, in the west of the island, longer rivers such as Betsiboka, Tsiribihina and Mangoky meander and create fertile floodplains.
Climate changes with exposure and altitude. It is subtropical to temperate in the mountains, tropical on the coast. The north and east are very humid under the influence of the trade winds (over 3000 mm of precipitation), while in the central parts of the plateau and in the south the climate is drier and has given rise to savannahs. Until recently, almost the entire island was covered with dense forests, either tropical forests or evergreen and leafy montane forests. Large areas of forests have been cleared and afforested for agricultural land, only some mountainous and remote areas with numerous endemic species remain. Large areas of the country suffer from intense soil erosion. Both flora and fauna form a transition between Africa and Asia.
Thanks to its isolation, a unique and rich fauna survived in Madagascar. Endemic representatives include the insectivorous tenrek, the diverse and beautifully colored lemurs. Crocodiles, chameleons, civets and a large number of diverse butterflies and birds also live here. Characteristic marine animals are the spiny tiger urchin and the famous “living fossil” Latimeria strangea, which is only found in the local sea. The wonderful fauna was severely damaged by the killing and destruction of the entire natural environment. Some rare lemur species have become extinct and many are endangered. Nature conservation is in its infancy, and although the government is trying to limit the devastation of the landscape, it seems that it is already too late.
According to Campingship, Madagascar was settled in the 10th – 6th centuries BC by Indonesians who mixed with the original Bushmen and later (from the beginning of our era) with the Bantus tribes that penetrated the island from East Africa. From the 7th century, Muslim Arabs established trading settlements in the north and west. The inhabitants of Madagascar, the Malagasy, therefore form a peculiar ethnic mixture, but their language is demonstrably of Indonesian origin.
The country’s economy suffered serious damage from the introduction of state planning after the revolution of 1975. It was not until 1989 that fundamental changes and an increase in foreign economic aid took place. France remains the largest trading partner.