General information: Once an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1886, but regained independence in 1960. In 1992-93. free presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of one-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential election, Didier RATSIRAKA, who led the country in the 1970s and 1980s, was elected president.
Location: South Africa, an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique. See franciscogardening.com to know more about Madagascar Geography.
Geographical coordinates: 20° 00′ S. latitude, 47° 00′ E
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 587,040 square kilometers; land surface area: 581,540 km2; water surface area: 5,500 km2
Comparative area: slightly less than twice the area of the state of Arizona.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 4,828 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or 100 nautical miles from the 2,500 m isobath; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south.
Relief: a narrow coastal plain, turning into high plateaus and mountains in the central regions.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Marumukutru 2,876 m.
Natural resources: graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, resinous sandstone, semi-precious stones, mica, fish, hydropower resources.
Land use: arable land: 4%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 41%; forests and plantations: 40%; others: 14% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 10,870 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: periodic cyclones.
Current environmental issues: soil erosion due to deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; pollution of surface waters with sewage and other organic wastes; a real threat to the survival of several animal and plant species unique to the island.
International environmental agreements: member: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Hazardous waste, Marine life conservation, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: Law of the Sea.
Geography Note: Fourth largest island in the world; strategically important location along the Mozambique Channel.
Population: 15,982,563 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 45.02% (male 3,607,803; female 3,587,532); 15 to 64 years old: 51.77% (male 4,093,720; female 4,180,430); over 65: 3.21% (male 239,839; female 273,239) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 3.02% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 42.66 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 12.42 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male/female; under 15: 1.01 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.98 male/female; over 65: 0.89 male/female; for the general population: 0.99 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 83.58 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 55.35 years; men: 53.08 years; women: 57.68 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 5.8 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.15% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 11,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 870 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Malagasy, Malgash; adjective: Malagasy.
Ethnic groups: descendants of the Malays and Indonesians (the peoples of the Merina and the Betsileo close to it), the Cotiers (the descendants of mixed marriages of Africans, Malays, Indonesians and Arabs – Betsimisaraka, Tsimiheti, Antaysaka, Sakalava), French, Indians, Creoles, Comorians.
Believers: adherents of local beliefs 52%, Christians 41%, Muslims 7%.
Language(s): French (official), Malagasy (official).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 80%; men: 88%; women: 73% (1990 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar;
conventional short form: Madagascar; local long form: Republique de Madagascar local short form: Madagascar former: Malagasy Republic.
State structure: republic.
Administrative division: 6 provinces (fari-tany): Antananarivo, Antseranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara, Fianarantsoa.
Independence: from June 26, 1960 (until 1960 – a colony of France).
National holiday: Independence Day, June 26 (since 1960).
Constitution: Adopted 19 August 1992 by national referendum.
Legal system: based on the French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Didier RATSIRAKA (since 10 February 1997);
head of government: Prime Minister Tantely Rene Gabriot ANDRIANARIVO (since 1998);
Government: a council of ministers appointed by the prime minister; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; elections last held 29 December 1996 (next to be held in 2002); the prime minister is appointed by the president from among candidates nominated by the National Assembly; election results: Didier RATSIRAKA elected president; percent of the vote – Didier RATSIRAKA (AREMA) 50.7%, Albert ZAFY (AFFA) 49.3%.
Legislature: unicameral National Assembly (150 members elected by popular vote for a four-year term); note – the legislature will become bicameral after the establishment of the Senate; two-thirds of the members of this Senate shall be representatives of regional assemblies, elected by popular vote; the remaining third of the members will be appointed by the president; the total number of members to be determined by the National Assembly; all members will serve a four-year term; elections: for National Assembly last held 17 May 1998 (next to be held in 2002); election results: for the National Assembly – distribution of votes by party – no data; distribution of seats by party – AREMA 63, LEADER/Fanilo 16, AV114, RPSD 11, AFFA 6, MFM 3, AKFM/Fanavaozana 3, GRAD/lloafo 1, Fihaonana 1, independent 32.
Judiciary: Supreme Court; Supreme Constitutional Court.
Political parties and leaders: Action, Truth, Development and Harmony (AFFA) (Albert ZAFI); Union for the Revival of Madagascar (AREMA) (leadership vacant); Malagasy Independence Congress Party (AKFM/Fanavaozana) (leader – unknown); Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery (LEADER/Fanilo) (Herizo RAZAFIMAHALEO); Fihaonana Association (Guy RAZANAMASY); Reflection and Action Group for the Development of Madagascar (GRAD/lloafo) (leader – NA); You will be judged by your work (AVI) (Norbert RATSIRAHONA-NA); Madagascar Progress Movement (MFM) (Manandafy RAKO-TONIRINA); Renewed Social Democratic Party (RPSD) (Evariste MARSON); Big House (Tranobe) (Ny Hasina ANDRIAMANJATO).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Federalist movement; National Council of Christian Churches (FFKM).
Participation in international organizations: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: missions: Zina ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY; office: 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 265-5525, 265-5526; consulates general: New York.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Shirley E. BARNES; embassy: 14-16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo; postal address: V. R. 620, Antananarivo; phone:  (20) 22-212-57; fax:  (20) 22-345-39.
Flag Description: Two equal horizontal stripes of red (top) and green with a vertical white stripe of the same width along the hoist.