Madagascar [Country Flag of Madagascar]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Madagascar]



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

Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 587,040 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,500 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 4,828 km

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

Climate: tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south

Terrain: narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m

Natural resources: graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish

Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 40%
other: 14% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 10,870 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic cyclones

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

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Desertification, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Geography—note: world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel


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Population: 14,462,509 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (male 3,272,236; female 3,196,565)
15-64 years: 52% (male 3,722,459; female 3,792,178)
65 years and over: 3% (male 231,582; female 247,489) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.81% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 41.89 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 13.83 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 90.57 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 52.88 years
male: 51.7 years
female: 54.1 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.76 children born/woman (1998 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

Religions: indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%

Languages: French (official), Malagasy (official)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 80%
male: 88%
female: 73% (1990 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar
conventional short form: Madagascar
local long form: Republique de Madagascar
local short form: Madagascar
former: Malagasy Republic

Data code: MA

Government type: republic

National capital: Antananarivo

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliary

Independence: 26 June 1960 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 June (1960)

Constitution: 19 August 1992 by national referendum

Legal system: based on French civil law system and traditional Malagasy law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Didier RATSIRAKA (since 10 February 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Pascal RAKOTOMAVO (since 21 February 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 29 December 1996 (next to be held NA 2002); prime minister appointed by the president from a list of candidates nominated by the National Assembly
election results: percent of the popular vote for president—Didier RATSIRAKA (AREMA) 50.7%, Albert ZAFY (UNDD) 49.3%; percent of the National Assembly vote for prime minister—NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (138 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the Senate or Senat (two-thirds of Senate seats are to be filled from popularly elected regional assemblies; the remaining third is to be filled by presidential appointment; members serve four-year terms); note—the establishment of the Senate has been indefinitely postponed; the total number of seats in the Senate will be determined by the National Assembly
elections: National Assembly—last held 16 June 1993 (next to be held May 1998)
election results: National Assembly—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party - CFV coalition 76, PMDM/MFM 16, CSCD 11, Famima 10, RPSD 7, various pro-Ratsiraka groups 10, others 8

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme); High Constitutional Court (Haute Cour Constitutionnelle)

Political parties and leaders: Committee of Living Forces or CFV, an alliance of National Union for Development and Democracy or UNDD [Emmanuel RAKOTOVAHINY, president], Support Committee for Democracy and Development in Madagascar or CSDDM [Francisque RAVONY, president], Action and Reflection Group for the Development of Madagascar or GRAD, Congress Party for Madagascar Independence-Renewal or AKFM-Fanavaozana [Richard ANDRIAMANJATO, president], and some 12 other parties, trade unions, and religious groups; Association of United Malagasys or Famima [Didier RATSIRAKA, leader]; Confederation of Civil Societies for Development or CSCD [Guy Willy RAZANAMASY]; Militant Party for the Development of Madagascar or PMDM/MFM, formerly the Movement for Proletarian Power [Manandafy RAKOTONIRINA]; Rally for Social Democracy or RPSD [Evariste MARSON, president]

Political pressure groups and leaders: National Council of Christian Churches or FFKM; Federalist Movement

International organization participation: 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, ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Biclair Henri ANDRIANANTOANDRO
chancery: 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-5525, 5526
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Howard T. PERLOW
embassy: 14-16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo
mailing address: B. P. 620, Antananarivo
telephone: [261] (2) 212-57, 200-89, 207-18
FAX: [261] (2) 345-39

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side


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Economy—overview: Madagascar suffers from chronic malnutrition, underfunded health and education facilities, a roughly 3% annual population growth rate, and severe loss of forest cover, accompanied by erosion. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for 33% of GDP and contributing more than 70% to export earnings. Industry features textile manufacturing and the processing of agricultural products. Growth in output in 1992-97 averaged less than the growth rate of the population. Growth has been held back by antigovernment strikes and demonstrations, a decline in world coffee demand, and the erratic commitment of the government to economic reform. Formidable obstacles stand in the way of Madagascar's realizing its considerable growth potential; the extent of government reforms, outside financial aid, and foreign investment will be key determinants.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$10.3 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$730 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 33%
industry: 15%
services: 52% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 19.8% (1996)

Labor force: NA

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $477 million
expenditures: $706 million, including capital expenditures of $264 million (1996 est.)

Industries: meat processing, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 3.8% (1993 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 220,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 595 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 43 kWh (1995)

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

total value: $493 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: coffee 45%, vanilla 20%, cloves, shellfish, sugar, petroleum products (1995 est.)
partners: France 41%, US, Japan, Italy (1995)

total value: $612 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: intermediate manufactures 30%, capital goods 28%, petroleum 15%, consumer goods 14%, food 13% (1995 est.)
partners: France 40%, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, US (1995)

Debt—external: $4.4 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $454 million (1992-96)

Currency: 1 Malagasy franc (FMG) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Malagasy francs (FMG) per US$1—5,302.9 (December 1997), 5,090.9 (1997), 4,061.3 (1996), 4,265.6 (1995), 3,067.3 (1994), 1,913.8 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 96,000 (1988 est.)

Telephone system: system is above average for Africa
domestic: open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter links
international: submarine cable to Bahrain; satellite earth stations—1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean Region)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 17, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 2.565 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (repeaters 36)

Televisions: 260,000 (1992 est.)


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total : 883 km
narrow gauge: 883 km 1.000-m gauge (1994)

total: 49,837 km
paved: 5,781 km
unpaved: 44,056 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: of local importance only; isolated streams and small portions of Canal des Pangalanes

Ports and harbors: Antsiranana, Antsohimbondrona, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara

Merchant marine:
total: 10 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 20,624 GRT/28,621 DWT
ships by type: cargo 4, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2 (1997 est.)

Airports: 136 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 30
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 22
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 106
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 42 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Popular Armed Forces (includes Intervention Forces, Development Forces, Aeronaval Forces—includes Navy and Air Force), Gendarmerie, Presidential Security Regiment

Military manpower—military age: 20 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 3,308,300 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 1,964,545 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 140,429 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $29 million (1994)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1% (1994)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island (all administered by France)

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