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!
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.
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.