Madagascar was one of the last major landmasses on earth to be colonized by humans. The earliest settlers from present-day Indonesia arrived between A.D. 350 and 550. The island attracted Arab and Persian traders as early as the 7th century, and migrants from Africa arrived around A.D. 1000. Madagascar was a pirate stronghold during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and served as a slave trading center into the 19th century. From the 16th to the late 19th century, a native Merina Kingdom dominated much of Madagascar. The island was conquered by the French in 1896 who made it a colony; independence was regained 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. RAVALOMANANA won a second term in 2006 but, following protests in 2009, handed over power to the military, which then conferred the presidency on the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry RAJOELINA, in what amounted to a coup d'etat. Following a lengthy mediation process led by the Southern African Development Community, Madagascar held UN-supported presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013. Former de facto finance minister Hery RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA won a runoff election in December 2013 and was inaugurated in January 2014.



Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Geographic coordinates

20 00 S, 47 00 E

Map references



total: 587,041 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,501 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

Land boundaries

0 km


4,828 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or 100 nm from the 2,500-m isobath


tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south


narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center


mean elevation: 615 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m

Natural resources

graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, rare earth elements, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 71.1%
arable land 6%; permanent crops 1%; permanent pasture 64.1%
forest: 21.5%
other: 7.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10,860 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

periodic cyclones; drought; and locust infestation
volcanism: Madagascar's volcanoes have not erupted in historical times

Environment - current issues

soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel

People and Society

Contraceptive prevalence rate

39.9% (2008/09)


24,430,325 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)
adjective: Malagasy

Ethnic groups

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


French (official), Malagasy (official), English


Christian, indigenous believer, Muslim
note: population largely practices Christianity or an indigenous religion; small share of population is Muslim

Demographic profile

Madagascar’s youthful population – just over 60% are under the age of 25 – and high total fertility rate of more than 4 children per women ensures that the Malagasy population will continue its rapid growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Many young Malagasy girls are withdrawn from school, marry early (often pressured to do so by their parents), and soon begin having children. Early childbearing, coupled with Madagascar’s widespread poverty and lack of access to skilled health care providers during delivery, increases the risk of death and serious health problems for young mothers and their babies.
Child marriage perpetuates gender inequality and is prevalent among the poor, the uneducated, and rural households – as of 2013, of Malagasy women aged 20 to 24, more than 40% were married and more than a third had given birth by the age of 18. Although the legal age for marriage is 18, parental consent is often given for earlier marriages or the law is flouted, especially in rural areas that make up nearly 65% of the country. Forms of arranged marriage whereby young girls are married to older men in exchange for oxen or money are traditional. If a union does not work out, a girl can be placed in another marriage, but the dowry paid to her family diminishes with each unsuccessful marriage.
Madagascar’s population consists of 18 main ethnic groups, all of whom speak the same Malagasy language. Most Malagasy are multi-ethnic, however, reflecting the island’s diversity of settlers and historical contacts (see Background). Madagascar’s legacy of hierarchical societies practicing domestic slavery (most notably the Merina Kingdom of the 16th to the 19th century) is evident today in persistent class tension, with some ethnic groups maintaining a caste system. Slave descendants are vulnerable to unequal access to education and jobs, despite Madagascar’s constitutional guarantee of free compulsory primary education and its being party to several international conventions on human rights. Historical distinctions also remain between central highlanders and coastal people.

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.17% (male 4,947,260/female 4,865,379)
15-24 years: 20.44% (male 2,503,395/female 2,489,482)
25-54 years: 31.83% (male 3,889,063/female 3,887,633)
55-64 years: 4.31% (male 511,336/female 540,868)
65 years and over: 3.26% (male 360,520/female 435,389) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 80.3%
youth dependency ratio: 75.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.1%
potential support ratio: 19.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 19.5 years
male: 19.3 years
female: 19.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.54% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

32.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

6.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 35.1% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.69% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ANTANANARIVO (capital) 2.61 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 1,827,423
percentage: 28%
note: data represent children ages 5-17 (2007 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

353 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 42.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 46.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 65.9 years
male: 64.4 years
female: 67.4 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.12 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

3% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.16 physicians/1,000 population (2007)

Hospital bed density

0.2 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 81.6% of population
rural: 35.3% of population
total: 51.5% of population
urban: 18.4% of population
rural: 64.7% of population
total: 48.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 18% of population
rural: 8.7% of population
total: 12% of population
urban: 82% of population
rural: 91.3% of population
total: 88% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.36% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

47,900 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,200 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

4.6% (2014)

Education expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.7%
male: 66.7%
female: 62.6% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2012)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008/09 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 2.6%
male: 2.2%
female: 3% (2012 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
conventional short form: Madagascar
local long form: Republique de Madagascar/Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
local short form: Madagascar/Madagasikara
former: Malagasy Republic
note: the name "Madageiscar" was first used by the 13th-century Venetian explorer Marco POLO, as a corrupted transliteration of Mogadishu, the Somali port with which POLO confused the island

Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Antananarivo
geographic coordinates: 18 55 S, 47 31 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara


26 June 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 June (1960)


previous 1992; latest passed by referendum 17 November 2010, promulgated 11 December 2010 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the old French civil code and customary law in matters of marriage, family, and obligation

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Madagascar; in the case of a child born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: unknown


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Hery Martial RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA Rakotoarimana (since 25 January 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly SOLONANDRASANA (since 13 April 2016); Prime Minister Jean RAVELONARIVO (since 17 January 2015) resigned 8 April 2016
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 December 2013 (next to be held in 2018); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly, appointed by the president
election results: Hery Martial RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA elected president; percent of vote in second round - Hery Martial RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA (FIDO) 53.5%, Jean Louis ROBINSON (AVANA) 46.5%
note: on 17 March 2009, democratically elected President Marc RAVALOMANANA stepped down, handing the government over to the military, which in turn conferred the presidency on opposition leader and Antananarivo mayor Andry RAJOELINA; a power-sharing agreement established a 15-month transition period to conclude with a general election in 2010, which failed to occur; a subsequent agreement aimed for an early 2013 election - the first round was held on 25 October 2013 and the second on 20 December 2013

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Antenimierampirenena (151 seats; 87 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 64 directly elected in two-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: National Assembly - last held on 20 December 2013 (next to be held in 2017); note - a power-sharing agreement in the summer of 2009 established a 15-month transition, concluding in general elections held in 2013 after repeated delays
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - MPAR 17.3%, MR 10.8%, VPM MMM 8.2%, PHI 3.8%, AMHM 3.5%, LF 2.8%, FFF 1.6%, AIM 1.0%, SFN 0.3%, independent and other 50.6%; seats by party - MPAR 49, MR 20, VPM MMM 13, PHI 5, AMHM 2, LF 5, FFF 2, AIM 2, SFN 2, other 22, independent 25, seats with delayed elections 4

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of 11 members; addresses judicial administration issues only); High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle (consists of 9 members); note - the judiciary includes a High Court of Justice responsible for adjudicating crimes and misdemeanors by government officials including the president
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court heads elected by the president and judiciary officials to serve single-renewable, 3-year terms; High Constitutional Court members appointed - 3 each by the president, by both legislative bodies, and by the Council of Magistrates; members serve single, 6-year terms
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; provincial and city tribunals

Political parties and leaders

AVANA Party [Jean-Louis ROBINSON]
Economic Liberalism and Democratic Action for National Recovery/LEADER Fanilo or LF [Manasse ESOAVELOMANDROSO]
Green Party/Parti Vert or AMHM [Sarah Georget RABEHARISOA]
National Unity, Freedom, and Development or FFF [Benjamin RADAVIDSON Andriamparany]
New Force for Madagascar or FIDIO [Hery RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA]
Parti Hiaraka Isika or PHI [Albert Camille VITAL]
Party of Andry Rajoelina or MPAR [Andry RAJOELINA]
Pillar of Madagascar or AIM [Andry RAKOTOVAO]
Ravlomanana Movement or MR [Marc RAVALOMANANA]
Sambo Fiaran'i Noe or SFN
Union Party or Tambatra [Pety RAKOTONIAINA]
Vondrona Politika Miara dia Malagasy Miara Miainga or VPM MMM [Milavonjy ANDRIASY]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Committee for the Defense of Truth and Justice or KMMR
Committee for National Reconciliation or CRN [Albert ZAFY]
National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Velotiana Rakotoanosy RAOBELINA (since 20 June 2011)
chancery: 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-5525 through 5526
FAX: [1] (202) 265-3034
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Robert T. YAMATE (since 13 January 2015); note - also accredited to Comoros
embassy: Lot 207A, Point Liberty, Andranoro, Antehiroka, 105 Antananarivo
mailing address: B.P. 620, Antsahavola, Antananarivo
telephone: [261] (23) 480 00
FAX: [261] 20 23 480 35 or [261] 33 44 328 17

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side; by tradition, red stands for sovereignty, green for hope, white for purity

National symbol(s)

traveller's palm, zebu; national colors: red, green, white

National anthem

name: "Ry Tanindraza nay malala o" (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)
lyrics/music: Pasteur RAHAJASON/Norbert RAHARISOA
note: adopted 1959


GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.74 billion (2015 est.)

Economy - overview

Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel,

After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization until the onset of a political crisis, which lasted from 2009 to 2013. The free market strategy had pla

Madagascar regained AGOA access in January 2015 following the democratic election of a new president the previous year. In November 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a Rapid Credit Facility to Madagascar worth about $42.1 million to hel

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$37.49 billion (2016 est.)
$36 billion (2015 est.)
$34.91 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - real growth rate

4.1% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)
3.3% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$1,500 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)
$1,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

13% of GDP (2016 est.)
11.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82.8%
government consumption: 12.9%
investment in fixed capital: 15.8%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 31.3%
imports of goods and services: -42.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24.8%
industry: 16.3%
services: 58.9% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


meat processing, seafood, soap, beer, leather, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism, mining

Industrial production growth rate

3.7% (2016 est.)

Labor force

12.98 million (2016 est.)

Unemployment rate

NA% (2015 est.)
3.6% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

75.3% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.2%
highest 10%: 34.7% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

47.5 (2001)
38.1 (1999)


revenues: $1.171 billion
expenditures: $1.616 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

12% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

9.2% (2016 est.)
7.4% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

5% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

62% (31 December 2016 est.)
60% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$1.527 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.375 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$2.745 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$2.399 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.914 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.645 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$223 million (2016 est.)
-$186 million (2015 est.)


$2.266 billion (2016 est.)
$2.238 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, clothing, chromite, petroleum products

Exports - partners

France 15.2%, US 12.7%, China 7.1%, South Africa 5.9%, Japan 5.5%, Netherlands 5.4%, Germany 5.1%, Belgium 5%, India 4.4% (2015)


$2.717 billion (2016 est.)
$2.683 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food

Imports - partners

China 24.8%, France 10.3%, Bahrain 5.6%, India 5.5%, Kuwait 4.5%, Mauritius 4.5%, South Africa 4.3% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$780.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$832 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$4.007 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.332 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home


Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad


Exchange rates

Malagasy ariary (MGA) per US dollar -
3,243.4 (2016 est.)
2,933.5 (2015 est.)
2,933.5 (2014 est.)
2,414.8 (2013 est.)
2,195 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 19,500,000
electrification - total population: 15%
electrification - urban areas: 37%
electrification - rural areas: 4% (2013)

Electricity - production

1.4 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

1.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

m 500,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

69.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

30.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

15,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

15,230 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

2.01 billion cu m (1 January 2012 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

3 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 253,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 11.152 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 47 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: system is above average for the region; competition among the three mobile service providers has spurred recent growth in the mobile market
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity about 45 per 100 persons
international: country code - 261; landing point for the EASSy, SEACOM, and LION fiber-optic submarine cable systems; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region) (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned Radio Nationale Malagasy (RNM) and Television Malagasy (TVM) have an extensive national network reach; privately owned radio and TV broadcasters in cities and major towns; state-run radio dominates in rural areas; relays of 2 international bro (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 994,000
percent of population: 4.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 546,946
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 30,512,607 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

5R (2016)


83 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 26
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 16
under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 57
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 38
under 914 m: 18 (2013)


total: 836 km
narrow gauge: 836 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)


total: 37,476 km
paved: 6,103 km
unpaved: 31,373 km (2010)


600 km (432 km navigable) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 1
by type: cargo 1
registered in other countries: 1 (unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara (Tulear)


Military branches

People's Armed Forces: Intervention Force, Development Force, and Aeronaval Force (navy and air); National Gendarmerie

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age for male-only voluntary military service; no conscription; service obligation is 18 months for military or equivalent civil service; 20-30 years of age for National Gendarmerie recruits and 35 years of age for those with military experience (2012)

Military expenditures

0.69% of GDP (2012)
0.73% of GDP (2011)
0.69% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island (all administered by France); the vegetated drying cays of Banc du Geyser, which were claimed by Madagascar in 1976, also fall within the EEZ claims of the Comoros and France (Glorioso Islands, part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands)

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: 21,475 (floods in 2015) (2015)

Illicit drugs

illicit producer of cannabis (cultivated and wild varieties) used mostly for domestic consumption; transshipment point for heroin