Madagascar (/ˌmædəˈɡæskər, -kɑːr/; Malagasy: Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, Malagasy pronunciation: [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world's second-largest island country, after Indonesia.[13] The nation is home to around 30 million inhabitants and consists of the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), along with numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is endemic.

Republic of Madagascar
  • Repoblikan'i Madagasikara  (Malagasy)
  • République de Madagascar  (French)
  • Fitiavana, Tanindrazana, Fandrosoana  (Malagasy)
  • Amour, Patrie, Progrès  (French)
  • "Love, Fatherland, Progress"[1]
Anthem: Ry Tanindrazanay malala ô!  (Malagasy)
Ô Terre de nos ancêtres bien-aimés!  (French)
"Oh, beloved land of our ancestors!"
Location of Madagascar (dark green)
and largest city
18°55′S 47°31′E
Official languagesMalagasy  French
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential republic
Andry Rajoelina
Christian Ntsay
National Assembly
6 August 1896
 Republic proclaimed
14 October 1958
26 June 1960
587,041 km2 (226,658 sq mi) (46th)
5,501 km2 (2,124 sq mi)
 Water (%)
 2022 estimate
28,172,462[8] (52nd)
35.2/km2 (91.2/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
$45.948 billion[9]
 Per capita
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
$12.734 billion[9]
 Per capita
Gini (2012) 42.6[10]
HDI (2019) 0.501[11]
low · 173rd
CurrencyAriary (MGA)
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
 Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (not observed[12])
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+261[12]
ISO 3166 codeMG

Human settlement of Madagascar occurred during or before the mid first millennium AD[14] by Austronesian peoples, presumably arriving on outrigger canoes from present-day Indonesia.[15] These were joined around the 9th century AD by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa.[16] Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into 18 or more subgroups, of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.

Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting sociopolitical alliances. Beginning in the early 19th century, most of the island was united and ruled as the Kingdom of Madagascar by a series of Merina nobles. The monarchy ended in 1897 when the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire, from which the island gained independence in 1960. The autonomous state of Madagascar has since undergone four major constitutional periods, termed republics. Since 1992, the nation has officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However, in a 2009 political crisis, president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina. Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014, when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the international community. Madagascar is a member of the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

Madagascar belongs to the group of least developed countries, according to the United Nations.[17] Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. Christianity is predominant religion in the country, but a significant minority still practices traditional faiths. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater investments in education, health, and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar's development strategy. Under Ravalomanana, these investments produced substantial economic growth, but the benefits were not evenly spread throughout the population, producing tensions over the increasing cost of living and declining living standards among the poor and some segments of the middle class. As of 2017, the economy has been weakened by the 2009–2013 political crisis, and quality of life remains low for the majority of the Malagasy population.

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