Madagascar: The Country

Madagascar Facts (the country, not the film!)

Madagascar is 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) making it the fourth largest island and the 2nd largest island country in the world and located approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of south-east Africa in the Indian Ocean. The nation recorded a population of 26,262,313 in 2018 and has its own currency known as Malagasy Ariary.

About 80 million years ago, following the break-up of the super continent Gondwana, Madagascar broke away from India.

This meant that many plants and animals evolved in isolation – an amazing 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth!

Baobab Trees

Baobab Trees

Chameleons in Madagascar

Chameleons in Madagascar

The island is heavily exposed to tropical cyclones which bring torrential rains and destructive floods, such as the ones in 2000 and 2004, which left thousands homeless. Madagascar has many unusual plants and animals. Environmental degradation is a major worry for conservationists.

 Madagascan Politics

Hery Rajaonarimampianina

Hery Rajaonarimampianina - previous president of Madagascar

Madagascar gained independence in 1960 after years of French rule. The island now has strong ties with France as well as economic and cultural links with French-speaking West Africa. The military seized power in the early 1970s hoping to achieve a socialist paradise. This did not happen. The economy went into decline and by 1982 the authorities were forced to adopt a structural adjustment programme imposed by the International Monetary Fund. In 2009 the former mayor of the country’s capital, Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina’s seized power. This left the country isolated by the international community and deprived of foreign aid until the election of a new president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, in 2014. Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s failure to improve the country’s economic plight led parliament to vote for his impeachment in May 2015. However, Mr Rajaonarimampianina has said he thinks the voting was corrupt and that many members of the parliament were upset that they were no longer allowed to have new cars provided by the government.

Madagascan Economy

The World Bank has estimated that 92% of Malagasy live on less than $2 per day. Poverty and the competition for agricultural land have put pressure on the island’s dwindling forests, home to much of Madagascar’s unique wildlife and key to its emerging tourist industry. The recycling of waste is a very important activity in Madagascar, both for the conditions of poverty and because most of the new materials should be imported at a high price, since the industry in Madagascar is virtually non-existent. Here at Voyage, we are pleased to support Bezalila, a co-operative which provides Fair Trade employment to artisans who were previously living in poverty. The artisans specialise in the modelling of recycled tin cans, called ‘Kapoaka’. Check out their recycled bikes, motorbikes, cars, scooters, aeroplanes and helicopters on our website.

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