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Country of Madagascar Flag

Capital: Antananarivo

Population: 26,969,307

Brief History of Madagascar:

Madagascar was first inhabited by Indonesian seafarers during the first century AD. Tribal groups formed and today there are 18 different tribal groups. Some of the largest are the Merin, Betsileo, and Betsimisaraka.

In the 7th century, Arab traders arrived and built trading posts along the northwest coast of Madagascar. The first European to arrive was Portuguese Captain Diego Dias in the 1500s. Many years later the French established trading posts on the island. A strong leader from the Merina tribe united much of the island in the 1790s. In 1870 he came to an agreement with the British to abolish the slave trade. In return, the British would provide military and financial assistance. In 1885 the French made Madagascar a colony. The British, who were also heavily involved in Madagascar, agreed to this in return for control over Zanzibar. After World War II, Madagascar began to move towards independence. In 1960 it became a fully independent country.

Country of Madagascar Map

The Geography of Madagascar

Total Size: 587,040 square km

Size Comparison: slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

Geographical Coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E

World Region or Continent: Africa

General Terrain: narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Geographical Low Point: Indian Ocean 0 m

Geographical High Point: Maromokotro 2,876 m

Climate: tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south

Major cities: ANTANANARIVO (capital) 1.816 million (2009), Toamasina

The People of Madagascar

Type of Government: republic

Languages Spoken: French (official), Malagasy (official)

Independence: 26 June 1960 (from France)

National Holiday: Independence Day, 26 June (1960)

Nationality: Malagasy (singular and plural)

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

National Symbol:

National Anthem or Song: Ry Tanindraza nay malala o (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)

Economy of Madagascar

Major Industries: meat processing, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism

Agricultural Products: coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts; livestock products

Natural Resources: graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

Major Exports: coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, chromite, petroleum products

Major Imports: capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food

Currency: Madagascar ariary (MGA)

National GDP: $20,640,000,000

** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.

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