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Quick Facts

  • President: Democratically chosen president Marc Ravalomanana resigned on March 17 2009 due to a seriorus political conflict and was substituted by the former major of Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital, Andry Rajoelina, as head of a transitional government. On 9 August 2009 the main Malagasy parties signed an agreement to form an inclusive transitional government by mid-September and to hold elections  within 15 months.  This agreement broke down at the end of       August with the anouncement of a new government, leading to renewed unrest. In December Rajoelina did not assist to a new negotiation attempt in Mozambique in order to establish a unity government, and he set parliamentary elections for 2010 March 20. The former president Ravalomanana has so far not accepted Rajoelina plan.
    The political situation remains unstable and subject to change. You can read the latest news about the political crisis here: History

  • Land Area and geographical situation: Madagascar has a total surface of 587,040 km², being the 4th largest island in the world (comparable to the size of Kenya or France). It has 1550 km from North to South and 575 from West to East, and almost 5.000 km of coast! The highest peak is the Mount Maromokotra  (2.880 m. high), located on the Tsaranana Masive on the northern part of the country. Madagascar is separated from the African Continent by the Mozambique Channel (about 400 km) and crossed by the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • Climate: Madagascar has several climatic zones depending on the altitude and location. In general, the climate goes from humid tropical to semi-arid, with a rainy season from November to April and a dry one the rest of the year.         You find more information about climate and the best time to visit Madagascar here: when to go to Madagascar 
  • Population: 20,650,000 (2009 estimate), 70 % living in rural areas and 30 % in cities;  0,15 % are foreign residents, specially from France, India and the Comoros.  45 % of the total population are under 15  and only 3 % are older than 65. The popuplation density is 35 inh. /km², occupying the  position 173 on the list of countries by population density (2009).  

  • Life Expectancy: 60 years for males, 64 years for females; mortality rate is 8% and child mortality over 50%.  

  • Population growth: 2,84 %; a Malagasy women gives birth to 5 children in average; birth rate is around 37 %.

  •  Capital: Antananarivo, 1,750,000 inhabitants

  • Main cities: Fianarantsoa, 300,000; Antsiranana (Diégo-Suarez), 220,000; Toamasina, 230,000; Antsirabe, 220,000; and Mahajanga (Majunga), 200,000

  • Provinces: Madagascar was traditionally divided in six autonomous provinces (Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara). After a referendum in 2007, these provinces were dissolved and subdivided in 22 smaller regions called faritra. Thus, the former Antananarivo is divided now into Analamanga, Itasy, Bongolava and Vakinankaratra, Fianarantsoa into Amoron'i Mania, Atsimo-Atsinanana, Haute-Matsiatra, Ihorombe and Vatovavy-Fitovinany; Antsiranana was replaced by Diana and Sava; Mahajanga spans Betsiboka, Melaky, Boeny  and Sofia; Toamasina is divided into Alaotra-Mangoro, Analanjirofo and Atsinanana; and finally Toliara into Anosy, Androy, Atsimo-Andrefana and Menabe.

  • Economy: the main economic resources are the textile and mining industry (chrome, graphite, bauxite, precious stones), agriculture (vanilla, sugar and cofee) and tourism. GPD is 8,551 millions of USD after the 2009 List published by the International Monetary Fund. More than 50 % of the population survive with less than a dollar a day. 
  • Time: Sunrise is in Madagascar at 6:30 am in winter and at 5:30 am in summer. In winter the sun gets down at 17:30 pm and in summer at 18:30 pm. The time difference compared with Western Europe is  only +1 hour during summer and in winter +2 hours (one hour more for UK).

  • Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are generally two-pin. Power blackouts are usual so take a torch with you. In rural areas there is still no electricity, so that most hotels operate an own generator, which runs normaly in the late afternoon and in the early morning.

  • Weights & measures: Metric

  • Currency: Ariary (Ar). For further information see Money

  • Language: Malagasy is the official language, but French is used in business and government and is widely spoken in the main cities, but not in the rural areas. A few people involved in the tourism industry might be able to speak some English, but it is not widely spoken. For further information see here: Language

  • Literacy: The official literacy rate is 70,7 % (place 141 on the list of countries by literacy rate made by the UNO in 2009), but it is estimated that more than  half of the Malagasy people cannot write or read.    

  • Religion: About 45% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants. 8-12% of the population are Muslim. The rest of the country's population practices traditional religions. You can find more information about religious beliefs under Culture, customs and religion