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Republic of Madagascar
Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
République de Madagascar
Flag Coat of arms
MottoTanindrazana, Fahafahana, Fandrosoana  (Malagasy)
Patrie, liberté, progrès  (French)
"Fatherland, Liberty, Progress"
AnthemRy Tanindrazanay malala ô!
Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland

(and largest city)
18°55′S 47°31′E / 18.917°S 47.517°E / -18.917; 47.517
Official language(s) Malagasy, French, English1
Demonym Malagasy[1]
Government Caretaker government
 -  President of the High Transitional Authority Andry Rajoelina
 -  Prime Minister Albert Camille Vital
Independence from France 
 -  Date 26 June 1960 
 -  Total 587,041 km2 (45th)
226,597 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.13%
 -  2009 estimate 20,653,556[2] (55th)
 -  1993 census 12,238,914 
 -  Density 35.2/km2 (174th)
91.1/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $20.135 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $996[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $9.463 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $468[3] 
Gini (2001) 47.5 (high
HDI (2007) 0.533 (medium) (143rd)
Currency Malagasy ariary (MGA)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .mg
Calling code +261
1Official languages since 27 April 2007.

Madagascar, or Republic of Madagascar (older name Malagasy Republic, French: République malgache), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world, and is home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar.[citation needed] They include the lemur infraorder of primates, the carnivorous fossa, three bird families and six baobab species. Two-thirds of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[4]



As part of East Gondwana, the territory of Madagascar split from Africa approximately 160 million years ago; the island of Madagascar was created when it separated from the Indian subcontinent 80 to 100 million years ago.[5] Most archaeologists estimate that the human settlement of Madagascar happened between 200 and 500 A.D.,[6] when seafarers from southeast Asia (probably from Borneo or the southern Celebes) arrived in outrigger sailing canoes.[7] Bantu settlers probably crossed the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar at about the same time or shortly afterwards. However, Malagasy tradition and ethnographic evidence suggests that they may have been preceded by the Mikea hunter gatherers.[8] The Anteimoro who established a kingdom in Southern Madagascar in the Middle Ages trace their origin to migrants from Somalia.[9]

The written history of Madagascar begins in the 7th century,[10] when Muslims established trading posts along the northwest coast. During the Middle Ages, the island's kings began to extend their power through trade with their Indian Ocean neighbours, notably Arab, Persian and Somali traders who connected Madagascar with East Africa, the Middle East and India.[11]

Large chiefdoms began to dominate considerable areas of the island. Among these were the Sakalava chiefdoms of the Menabe, centred in what is now the town of Morondava, and of Boina, centred in what is now the provincial capital of Mahajanga (Majunga). The influence of the Sakalava extended across what are now the provinces of Antsiranana, Mahajanga and Toliara. Madagascar served as an important transoceanic trading port for the east African coast that gave Africa a trade route to the Silk Road, and served simultaneously as a port for incoming ships.

The wealth created in Madagascar through trade created a state system ruled by powerful regional monarchs known as the Maroserana. These monarchs adopted the cultural traditions of subjects in their territories and expanded their kingdoms. They took on divine status, and new nobility and artisan classes were created.[12] Madagascar functioned in the East African Middle Ages as a contact port for the other Swahili seaport city-states such as Sofala, Kilwa, Mombasa and Zanzibar.

European contact began in the year 1500, when the Portuguese sea captain Diogo Dias sighted the island after his ship separated from a fleet going to India.[13] The Portuguese continued trading with the islanders and named the island São Lourenço (St. Lawrence). In 1666, François Caron, the Director General of the newly formed French East India Company, sailed to Madagascar.[14] The Company failed to establish a colony on Madagascar but established ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon and Ile-de-France (today's Réunion and Mauritius). In the late 17th century, the French established trading posts along the east coast.

The most famous pirate utopia is that of Captain Misson and his pirate crew, who allegedly founded the free colony of Libertatia in northern Madagascar in the late 17th century. From about 1774 to 1824, Madagascar was a favourite haunt for pirates, including Americans, one of whom brought Malagasy rice to South Carolina. Many European sailors were shipwrecked on the coasts of the island, among them Robert Drury, whose journal is one of the few written depictions of life in southern Madagascar during the 18th century.[15] Sailors sometimes called Madagascar "Island of the Moon".[16]

Beginning in the 1790s, Merina rulers succeeded in establishing hegemony over most of the island, including the coast. In 1817, the Merina ruler and the British governor of Mauritius concluded a treaty abolishing the slave trade, which had been important in Madagascar's economy. In return, the island received British military and financial assistance. British influence remained strong for several decades, during which the Merina court was converted to Presbyterianism, Congregationalism and Anglicanism.

With the domination of the Indian Ocean by the Royal Navy and the end of the Arab slave trade, the western Sakalava lost their power to the emerging Merina state. The Betsimisaraka of the east coast also unified, but this union soon faltered.

Queen Ranavalona I "the Cruel" (r. 1828-61) issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice of Christianity in Madagascar.[17] By some estimates, 150,000 Christians died during the reign of Ranavalona. The island grew more isolated, and commerce with other nations came to a standstill.[18]

France invaded Madagascar in 1883, in what became known as the first Franco-Hova War seeking to restore property that had been confiscated from French citizens. (Hova is one of three Merina classes: andriana – aristocracy, hova – common people, andevo – slaves. The term hova was wrongly used by the French to mean Merina.) At the war's end, Madagascar ceded Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) on the northern coast to France and paid 560,000 francs to the heirs of Joseph-François Lambert. In 1890, the British accepted the full formal imposition of a French protectorate.

In 1895, a French flying column landed in Mahajanga (Majunga) and marched to the capital, Antananarivo, where the city's defenders quickly surrendered. Twenty French soldiers died fighting and 6,000 died of malaria and other diseases before the second Franco-Hova War ended.

After the conclusion of hostilities, in 1896 France annexed Madagascar. The 103-year-old Merina monarchy ended with the royal family being sent into exile in Algeria.

During World War II, Malagasy troops fought in France, Morocco, and Syria. Some leaders in Nazi Germany proposed deporting all of Europe's Jews to Madagascar (the Madagascar Plan), but nothing came of this. After France fell to Germany, the Vichy government administered Madagascar. During the Battle of Madagascar, British troops occupied the island in 1942 to preclude its seizure by the Japanese, after which the Free French took over.

In 1947, with French prestige at low ebb, the Malagasy Uprising broke out. It was suppressed after over a year of bitter fighting, with 8,000 to 90,000 people killed.[19] The French later established reformed institutions in 1956 under the Loi Cadre (Overseas Reform Act), and Madagascar moved peacefully towards independence. The Malagasy Republic was proclaimed on October 14, 1958, as an autonomous state within the French Community. A period of provisional government ended with the adoption of a constitution in 1959 and full independence on June 26, 1960. In 2006 the country experienced an attempted coup.


Although the present head of State has self-proclaimed himself, Madagascar is usually a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Madagascar is head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Senate and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The political situation in Madagascar has been marked by struggle for control. After Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960, assassinations, military coups and disputed elections featured prominently.

Didier Ratsiraka took power in a military coup in 1975 and ruled until 2001,[20] with a short break when he was ousted in the early 1990s. When Marc Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka both claimed victory after presidential elections in December 2001, Ratsiraka's supporters tried to blockade the capital, Antananarivo, which was pro-Ravalomanana. After eight months of sporadic violence with considerable economic disruption,[20] a recount in April 2002 led the High Constitutional Court to pronounce Ravalomanana president, but it was not until July that Ratsiraka fled to France and Ravalomanana gained control of the country.[21]

Internal conflict in Madagascar had been minimal in the years that followed and since 2002, Ravalomanana and his party, Tiako-I-Madagasikara (TIM), have dominated political life. In an attempt to restrict the power and influence of the president, the prime minister and the 150-seat parliament have been given greater power in recent years.

Tension since was generally associated with elections. A presidential election took place in December 2006 with some protests over worsening standards of living, despite a government drive to eradicate poverty.[22] Calls by a retired army general in November 2006 for Ravalomanana to step down were said to have been 'misinterpreted' as a coup attempt.

2009 Malagasy protests

The latest, and ongoing, spate of violence pitted then-President Marc Ravalomanana against Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. Since the power tussle started on 26 January, more than 170 people were killed.[23] Rajoelina mobilized his supporters to take to the streets of Antananarivo to demand Ravalomanana's ousting on the grounds of his alleged "autocratic" style of government.

Ravalomanana's resignation

After losing support of the military and under intense pressure from Rajoelina, President Ravalomanana resigned on 17 March 2009. Ravalomanana assigned his powers to a military council loyal to himself headed by Vice-Admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson.[24] The military called the move by Ravalomanana a "ploy"[24] and said that it would support Rajoelina as leader.[25] Rajoelina had already declared himself the new leader a month earlier and has since assumed the role of acting President. He has appointed Monja Roindefo as Prime Minister.[26] Rajoelina announced that elections would be held in two years and that the constitution would be amended.[25]

The European Union, amongst other international entities, has refused to recognize the new government, due to it being installed by force.[27] The African Union, which proceeded to suspend Madagascar's membership on 20 March [28] and the Southern Africa Development Community both criticized the forced resignation of Ravalomanana.[25] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said he is "gravely concerned about the evolving developments in Madagascar".[29]

Provinces and regions

Madagascar is currently divided into six autonomous provinces (faritany mizakatena), and subdivided into 22 regions (faritra), the latter created in 2004. The regions will be the highest subdivision level when the provinces are dissolved in accordance with the results of the 4 April 2007 referendum, which means by 4 October 2009.

Amoron'i Mania
Alaotra Mangoro

The regions are further subdivided into 116 districts, 1,548 communes, and 16,969 fokontany. The major cities have a special status as "commune urbaine", at the same level as the districts.


At 587,000 square kilometres (227,000 sq mi), Madagascar is the world's 46th-largest country and the fourth-largest island. It is slightly larger than France, and is one of 11 distinct physiographic provinces of the South African Platform physiographic division.

Towards the east, a steep escarpment leads from the central highlands down into a ribbon of rain forest with a narrow coastal further east. The Canal des Pangalanes is a chain of natural and man-made lakes connected by canals that runs parallel to the east coast for some 460 km (286 mi) (about two-thirds of the island). The descent from the central highlands toward the west is more gradual, with remnants of deciduous forest and savanna-like plains (which in the south and southwest, are quite dry and host spiny desert and baobabs). On the west coast are many protected harbours, but silting is a major problem caused by sediment from the high levels of erosion inland.

Along the crest of this ridge lie the central highlands, a plateau region ranging in altitude from 2,450 to 4,400 ft (747 to 1,341 m) above sea level. The central highlands are characterised by terraced, rice-growing valleys lying between barren hills. Here, the red laterite soil that covers much of the island has been exposed by erosion, showing clearly why the country is often referred to as the "Red Island".

The island's highest peak, Maromokotro, at 2,876 metres (9,436 ft), is found in the Tsaratanana Massif, located in the far north of the country. The Ankaratra Massif is in the central area south of the capital Antananarivo and hosts the third highest mountain on the island, Tsiafajavona, with an altitude of 2,642 metres (8,668 ft). Further south is the Andringitra massif which has several peaks over 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) including the second and fourth highest peaks, Pic Imarivolanitra, more widely known as Pic Boby (2,658 metres / 8,720 feet), and Pic Bory (2,630 metres / 8,630 feet). Other peaks in the massif include Pic Soaindra (2,620 metres / 8,600 feet) and Pic Ivangomena (2,556 metres / 8,386 feet). This massif also contains the Andringitra Reserve. On very rare occasions, this region experiences snow in winter due to its high altitude.

There are two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April, and a cooler, dry season from May to October. South-eastern trade winds predominate, and the island occasionally experiences cyclones.


Tsingy in Madagascar

Madagascar's long isolation from the neighboring continents has resulted in a unique mix of plants and animals, many found nowhere else in the world; some ecologists refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent".[30] Of the 10,000 plants native to Madagascar, 90% are found nowhere else in the world.[31] Madagascar's varied fauna and flora are endangered by human activity, as a third of its native vegetation has disappeared since the 1970s, and only 18% remains intact.[31] Since the arrival of humans 2000 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original forest.[32] The elephant birds, which were giant ratites native to Madagascar, have been extinct since at least the 17th century. Aepyornis was the world's largest bird, believed to have been over 3 metres (10 ft) tall.[33]

Most lemurs are listed as endangered or threatened species. Many species have gone extinct in the last centuries, mainly due to habitat destruction and hunting.[34]

The eastern, or windward side of the island is home to tropical rainforests, while the western and southern sides, which lie in the rain shadow of the central highlands, are home to tropical dry forests, thorn forests, and deserts and xeric shrublands. Madagascar's dry deciduous rain forest has been preserved generally better than the eastern rainforests or the high central plateau, presumably due to historically low population densities. Madagascar has several national parks.

Indri sitting on a tree branch resting, with head placed on its knee
The Indri is 1 of 99 recognized species and subspecies of lemur found only in Madagascar.

Extensive deforestation has taken place in parts of the country, some due to mining operations. Slash-and-burn activity, locally called tavy, has occurred in the eastern and western dry forests as well as on the central high plateau, reducing certain forest habitat and applying pressure to some endangered species. Slash-and-burn is a method sometimes used by shifting cultivators to create short-term yields from marginal soils. When practiced repeatedly without intervening fallow periods, the nutrient-poor soils may be exhausted or eroded to an unproductive state. The resulting increased surface runoff from burned lands has caused significant erosion and resulting high sedimentation to western rivers.

As a part of conservation efforts, the Wildlife Conservation Society has recently opened a Madagascar! exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. The New York Academy of Sciences recently published a Podcast about the Madagascar! exhibit, which details the fauna and flora of Madagascar and what types of projects the WCS is involved with in the country. The Podcast can be listened to here[35]

Madagascar is represented in the FIPS 10-4 geographical encoding standard by the symbol MA.[36]


Antananarivo is the political and economic capital of Madagascar

Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy. Major exports are coffee, vanilla (Madagascar is the world's largest producer and exporter of vanilla), sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock products. Vanilla has historically been of particular importance, and when in 1985 Coca-cola switched to New Coke which involved less vanilla, Madagascar's economy took a marked downturn, but returned to previous levels after the return of Coke Classic.[37]

Structural reforms began in the late 1980s, initially under pressure from international financial institutions, notably the World Bank. An initial privatization program (1988–1993) and the development of an export processing zone (EPZ) regime in the early 1990s were key milestones in this effort. A period of significant stagnation from 1991 to 1996 was followed by five years of solid economic growth and accelerating foreign investment, driven by a second wave of privatizations[citation needed] and EPZ development. Although structural reforms advanced, governance remained weak and perceived corruption in Madagascar was extremely high. During the period of solid growth from 1997 to 2001, poverty levels remained stubbornly high, especially in rural areas. A six-month political crisis triggered by a dispute over the outcome of the presidential elections held in December 2001 virtually halted economic activity in much of the country in the first half of 2002. Real GDP dropped 12.7% for the year 2002, inflows of foreign investment dropped sharply, and the crisis tarnished Madagascar's budding reputation as an AGOA standout and a promising place to invest. After the crisis, the economy rebounded with GDP growth of over 10% in 2003. Currency depreciation and rising inflation in 2004 have hampered economic performance, but growth for the year reached 5.3%, with inflation reaching around 25% at the end of the year. In 2005 inflation was brought under control by tight monetary policy of raising the Taux Directeur (central bank rate) to 16% and tightening reserve requirements for banks. Thus growth was expected to reach around 6.5% in 2005.

Following the 2002 political crisis, the government attempted to set a new course and build confidence, in coordination with international financial institutions and donors. Madagascar developed a recovery plan in collaboration with the private sector and donors and presented it at a "Friends of Madagascar" conference organized by the World Bank in Paris in July 2002. Donor countries demonstrated their confidence in the new government by pledging $1 billion in assistance over five years. The Malagasy Government identified road infrastructure as its principle priority and underlined its commitment to public-private partnership by establishing a joint public-private sector steering committee.

Rice paddies in Madagascar

In 2000, Madagascar embarked on the preparation of a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The boards of the IMF and World Bank agreed in December 2000 that the country had reached the decision point for debt relief under the HIPC Initiative and defined a set of conditions for Madagascar to reach the completion point. In October 2004, the boards of the IMF and the World Bank determined that Madagascar had reached the completion point under the enhanced HIPC Initiative.

The Madagascar-U.S. Business Council was formed as a collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Malagasian artisan producers in Madagascar in 2002.[38] The U.S.-Madagascar Business Council was formed in the United States in May 2003, and the two organisations continue to explore ways to work for the benefit of both groups.

The government of President Ravalomanana is aggressively seeking foreign investment and is tackling many of the obstacles to such investment, including combating corruption, reforming land-ownership laws, encouraging study of American and European business techniques, and active pursuit of foreign investors. President Ravalomanana rose to prominence through his agro-foods TIKO company, and is known for attempting to apply many of the lessons learned in the world of business to running the government. Some recent concerns have arisen about the conflict of interest between his policies and the activities of his firms. Most notable among them the preferential treatment for rice imports initiated by the government in late 2004 when responding to a production shortfall in the country.

Madagascar's sources of growth are tourism; textile and light manufacturing exports (notably through the EPZs); agricultural products; and mining. Madagascar is the world's leading producer of vanilla and accounts for about half the world's export market. Tourism targets the niche eco-tourism market, capitalizing on Madagascar's unique biodiversity, unspoiled natural habitats, national parks and lemur species. Exports from the EPZs, located around Antananarivo and Antsirabe, comprise the majority of garment manufacture, targeting the US market under AGOA and the European markets under the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement. Agricultural exports consist of low-volume high-value products like vanilla, litchies and essential oils. A small but growing part of the economy is based on mining of ilmenite, with investments emerging in recent years, particularly near Tulear and Fort Dauphin.[39] Mining corporation Rio Tinto Group expects to begin operations near Fort Dauphin in 2008, following several years of infrastructure preparation. The mining project is highly controversial, with Friends of the Earth and other environmental organizations filing reports to detail their concerns about effects on the local environment and communities.[40]

Autoclave enters Madagascar, 2008, as part of new mining operation

Several major projects are underway in the mining and oil and gas sectors that, if successful, will give a significant boost to the Malagasy economy.

In the mining sector, these include the development of coal at Sakoa and nickel near Tamatave. In oil, Madagascar Oil is developing the massive onshore heavy oil field at Tsimiroro and ultra heavy oil field at Bemolanga.

Foreign relations

Madagascar was historically perceived as being on the margin of mainstream African affairs despite being a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was founded in 1963. President Albert Zafy, taking office in 1993, expressed his desire for diplomatic relations with all countries. Early in his tenure, he established formal ties with South Korea and sent emissaries to Morocco.

Starting in 1997, globalisation encouraged the government and President Ratsiraka to adhere to market-oriented policies and to engage world markets. External relations reflect this trend, although Madagascar's physical isolation and strong traditional insular orientation have limited its activity in regional economic organizations and relations with its East African neighbours. It enjoys closer and generally good relations with its Indian Ocean neighbours – Mauritius, Réunion and Comoros. Active relationships with Europe, especially France, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as with Britain, Russia, Japan, India and China have been strong since independence. More recently, President Ravalomanana has cultivated strong links with the United States, and Madagascar was the first country to benefit from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). Madagascar is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

The OAU dissolved in 2002 and was replaced by the African Union. Madagascar was not permitted to attend the first African Union summit due to the dispute over the results of the election in December 2001, but rejoined the African Union in July 2003 after a 14-month hiatus triggered by the 2002 political crisis. However, Madagascar was suspended again by the African Union in March 2009 due to the ongoing political crisis.[41]

During his presidency, Marc Ravalomanana traveled widely promoting Madagascar abroad and consciously sought to strengthen relations with Anglophone countries as a means of balancing traditionally strong French influence. He also cultivated strong ties with China during his tenure.

In November 2004, after an absence of almost 30 years, Madagascar re-opened its embassy in London. On 15 December 2004 the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, announced the closure of the British embassy in Antananarivo to save £250,000 a year. He also announced an end to the government's aid to Madagascar, the DFID-funded Small Grants Scheme. The embassy closed in August 2005 despite petitions and protests from African heads of state, a European commissioner, the Malagasy Senate, many British companies, 30 or so NGOs operating in Madagascar, and members of the public.[citation needed]

The British Embassy was previously closed (also for financial reasons) from 1975 to 1980. The Anglo-Malagasy Society are campaigning to have it re-opened.


Antananarivo, Madagascar

Madagascar's population is predominantly of mixed Austronesian (i.e.South-East Asian/Pacific Islander) and African origin. Those who are visibly Austronesian in appearance and culture are the minority, found mostly in the highland regions. Recent research suggests that the island was uninhabited until Austronesian seafarers arrived about 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. Recent DNA research shows that the Malagasy people are approximately of half Austronesian and half East African descent, although some Arab, Indian and European influence is present along the coast. Malagasy language shares some 90% of its basic vocabulary with the Ma'anyan language from the region of the Barito River in southern Borneo.

Subsequent migrations from the East Indies and Africa consolidated this original mixture, and 36 separate tribal groups emerged. Austronesian features are most predominant in the Merina (3 million) ; the coastal people (called côtiers) are of more clearly African origin. The largest coastal groups are the Betsimisaraka (1.5 million) and the Tsimihety and Sakalava (700,000 each). The Vezo live in the southwest. Two of the southern tribes are the Antandroy and the Antanosy. Other tribes include Tankarana (northern tip), Sihanaka and Bezanozano (east), Tanala (south-east), An-Taimoro, Tambahoaka, Zafisoro, An-Taisaka and Timanambondro (south-east coast), and Mahafaly and Bara (south-west). Chinese and Indian minorities also exist, as well as Europeans, mostly French. In 1958, there were 68,430 European settlers living in Madagascar.[42] The number of Comorans residing in Madagascar was drastically reduced after anti-Comoran rioting in Mahajanga in 1976.[43]

During the French colonial administration (1895–1960) and some time after independence, people were officially classified in ethnic groups. This practice was abandoned in the first census (1975) after independence,[44] so any recent classification and figures for ethnic groups is an unofficial estimate. There is for instance no mention of ethnicity or religion in the national identity cards. Also, territorial divisions (provinces, regions) do not follow any ethnic division lines, despite an attempt by the colonial administration in the early 20th century. Ethnic divisions continue, and may cause violence, but their role is limited in today's society. Ethnic tensions in Madagascar often produce violent conflict between the Merina highlanders and coastal peoples.[45] Regional political parties are also rare, although some parties receive most of their support in certain areas.

The population has grown from 2.2 million in 1900 to 7.6 million in 1975.[46] Slavery was abolished in 1896, but many of the 500,000 liberated slaves remained in their former master's homes as servants.[47]

Only two general censuses, 1975 and 1993, have been carried out after independence.

In 1993 (last census) there were 18,497 foreign residents on Madagascar, or 0.15% of the population.


The fertility rate is at about 5 children per woman.[48] There are about 29 physicians per 100,000 persons.[48] Infant mortality was at 74 per 1,000 live births in 2005.[48] Life expectancy at birth was at 58.4 in the early 21st century.[48] Expenditure on health was 29 US$ (PPP) in 2004.[48]


The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin and is generally spoken throughout the island. Madagascar is a francophone country, and French is spoken among the educated population of this former French colony. English, although still rare, is becoming more widely spoken, and in 2003, the government began a pilot project of introducing the teaching of English into the primary grades of 44 schools, with hopes of taking the project nationwide. Many Peace Corps volunteers are serving to further this effort and train teachers.

In the first Constitution of 1958, Malagasy and French were named the official languages of the Malagasy Republic.[49]

No official languages were recorded in the Constitution of 1992. Instead, Malagasy was named the national language; however, many sources still claimed that Malagasy and French were official languages, as they were de facto. In April 2000, a citizen brought a legal case on the grounds that the publication of official documents in the French language only was unconstitutional. The High Constitutional Court observed in its decision[50] that, in the absence of a language law, French still had the character of an official language.

In the Constitution of 2007, Malagasy remains the national language while official languages are reintroduced: Malagasy, French, and English. The motivation for the inclusion of English is partly to improve relations with the neighbouring countries where English is used and to encourage foreign direct investment.[51]


Malagasy culture reflects a blend of Southeast Asian, Arab, African and European influences. Houses in Madagascar are typically four-sided with a peaked roof, in a style commonly seen in Southeast Asia, rather than the circular style of hut construction more commonly found in Eastern Africa. Rice forms the basis of every meal in most parts of the country as in Asia. The dishes prepared to accompany the rice vary depending on local availability of food products and are known as laoka.

Arab influence

Arab immigrants were few in number compared to the Indonesians and Bantus, but they left a lasting impression. The Malagasy names for seasons, months, days, and coins are Arabic in origin, as is the practice of circumcision, the communal grain pool, and different forms of salutation. The Arab magicians, known as the ombiasy, established themselves in the courts of many Malagasy tribal kingdoms. Arab immigrants imposed the patriarchal system of family and clan rule on Madagascar. Previous to the Arabs, the Malagasies practiced the Polynesian matriarchal system whereby rights of privilege and property are conferred equally on men and women.


A significant proportion of the adult population are illiterate.[52] The female youth literacy rate is below the male youth literacy rate.[52] Public expenditure on education was at 16.4 % of total government expenditure in the 2000-2007 period.[48] Public current expenditure on primary education per pupil is at about US$ 57 (PPP).[48] Madagascar has several universities.



Madagascar has a distinctive and rich musical heritage. The early Austronesian settlers brought with them the predecessor to the bamboo tube zither known as the valiha as well as other instruments that would form the basis for traditional Malagasy music. The influence of Africans is evident in certain drumming and polyharmonic singing styles, while the tendency toward minor chords along the coasts reflects an Arab musical influence. European pirates likewise contributed to Malagasy musical traditions, importing the guitar, accordion, piano and the instruments used in hiragasy performance including the violin, trumpet and clarinet.


The country has a rich oratory tradition in the form of hainteny, kabary and ohabolana. An epic poem, the Ibonia, has been handed down over the centuries in several different forms across the island and showcases the lively and highly developed oral traditions of Madagascar.


The zebu, or humped cattle, occupies an important place in traditional Malagasy culture. The animal can take on sacred importance and constitutes the wealth of the owner, a tradition originating on the African mainland. Cattle rustling, originally a rite of passage for young men in the plains areas of Madagascar where the largest herds of cattle are kept, has become a dangerous and sometimes deadly criminal enterprise as herdsmen in the Southwest attempt to defend their cattle with traditional spears against increasingly armed professional rustlers. Where African influences are strongest, as in the Southern region around Tulear, wealth and social status are measured in cattle, and the zebu can outnumber the inhabitants by two or three to one. Zebu are a popular motif on aloalo, the carved wooden poles that decorate tombs among some tribes in the southwestern part of the country.

Andrianampoinimerina (circa 1745–1810) united the Merina kingdom, moving his capital from Ambohimanga to Antananarivo and building his royal palace, or rova, on a strategic location on the highest hilltop overlooking the city. A number of cultural traditions, including the kabary and the hiragasy, were popularized during the period of his administration.


Traditional religion

Approximately 50% of the country's population practice traditional religion, which tends to emphasize links between the living and the dead. The Merina in the highlands particularly tend to hold tightly to this practice. They believe that the dead join their ancestors in the ranks of divinity and that ancestors are intensely concerned with the fate of their living descendants. The Merina and Betsileo reburial practice of famadihana, or "turning over the dead", celebrates this spiritual communion. In this ritual, relatives' remains are removed from the family tomb, rewrapped in new silk shrouds, and returned to the tomb following festive ceremonies in their honor where sometimes the bodies are lifted and carried high above the celebrants heads with singing and dancing before returning them to the tomb.

Traditionally, the Malagasy hold their ancestors in high esteem and many believe they continue to intervene in events on Earth after their death. A powerful individual may establish a fady (taboo) in his or her lifetime that all their descendents or those of community members will be required to respect well after their death, meaning that when traveling in Madagascar it is advisable to seek out village elders or authorities and inquire into local fady in order not to inadvertently transgress and offend the local population. This veneration of ancestors has also lead to the tradition of tomb building and the famadihana, a practice whereby a deceased family member's remains may be taken from the tomb to be periodically re-wrapped in fresh silk shrouds before being replaced in the tomb. The event is an occasion to celebrate the loved one's memory, reunite with family and community, and enjoy a festive atmosphere. Residents of surrounding villages are often invited to attend the party, where food and rum are often served and a hiragasy troupe or other musical entertainment is typically present.


Roman Catholic cathedral in Antsirabe.

Today about 45% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants. Many incorporate the cult of the dead with their other religious beliefs and bless their dead at church before proceeding with the traditional burial rites. They also may invite a Christian minister to attend a famadihana. Many of the Christian churches are influential in politics. The best example of this is the Malagasy Council of Churches (FFKM) comprising the four oldest and most prominent Christian denominations—(Roman Catholic, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran, and Anglican). In the 19th century under Queen Ranavalona I, there was infamous persecution and mass extermination of Christians.


Islam in Madagascar constitutes about 7% of the population. The Arab and Somali Muslim traders who first brought Islam in the Middle Ages had a deep influence on the west coast.[53] For example, many Malagasy converted to Islam and the Malagasy language was, for the first time, transcribed into an alphabet, based on the Arabic alphabet, called Sorabe. Muslims are concentrated in the provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). Muslims are divided between those of Malagasy ethnicity, Indians, Pakistanis and Comorians.


Hinduism in Madagascar began with Gujarati from the Saurashtra region of India as far back as 1900, when Madagascar was a French colony. Most Hindus in Madagascar speak Gujarati or Hindi.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace [2] Global Peace Index[54] 72 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 145 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 99 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 121 out of 133

See also


  1. ^ "Malagasy" is the correct form in English; Embassy of Madagascar, Washington D.C. "Madagascan" is used only for the island, not its people National Geographic Style Manual
  2. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2009). "Madagascar". The World Factbook. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Madagascar". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ Human Development Indices, Table 3: Human and income poverty, p. 35. Retrieved on 1 June 2009
  5. ^ BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Giant palm tree puzzles botanists
  6. ^ Malagasy languages, Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ Migration from Kalimantan to Madagascar by O. C. Dahl
  8. ^ Archaeology, Language, and the African Past by Roger Blench
  9. ^ The African diaspora in the Indian Ocean By Shihan de S. Jayasuriya, Richard Pankhurst pg 82
  10. ^ "Background Note: Madagascar". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  11. ^ Cities of the Middle East and North Africa By Michael Dumper, Bruce E. Stanley, Janet L. Abu-Lughod pg 391
  12. ^ Kingdoms of Madagascar: Maroserana and Merina
  13. ^  "Madagascar". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  14. ^ Vincent, Rose (1990). The French in India: From Diamond Traders to Sanskrit Scholars. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 0-8613-2259-2. 
  15. ^ From MADAGASCAR to the MALAGASY REPUBLIC, by Raymond K. Kent pg 65–71
  16. ^ Madagascar: An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Island and Its Former Dependencies by Samuel Pasfield Oliver., p. 6. (excerpted in Google Book Search)
  17. ^ Ranavalona I (Merina queen). Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  18. ^ Keith Laidler. Female Caligula. Ranavalona, the Mad Queen of Madagascar. Wiley (2005) ISNB -13 978-0-470-02223-8 (HB). 
  19. ^ (French) 1947 L'insurrection á Madagascar - Jean Fremigacci - Marianne
  20. ^ a b IRIN Africa | Southern Africa | Madagascar | MADAGASCAR: 'Violence could escalate' | Governance Conflict | News Item
  21. ^ IRIN Africa | Southern Africa | Madagascar | MADAGASCAR: Former president sentenced to five years in prison | Governance | News Item
  22. ^ IRIN Africa | Southern Africa | Madagascar | MADAGASCAR: Hoping for fair, transparent, uncontroversial elections | Economy Governance Other | Feature
  23. ^ IRIN Africa | Southern Africa | Madagascar | MADAGASCAR: Appeal launched despite political uncertainty | Children Economy Food Security Governance Health & Nutrition Conflict ...
  24. ^ a b Corbett, Christina; McGreal, Chris (18 March 2009). "Madagascar's president resigns as rival claims power". The Guardian. 
  25. ^ a b c "Military backs Madagascar rival". BBC News. 17 March 2009. 
  26. ^ "Madagascan opposition takes over prime minister's office". Xinhua. 14 March 2009. 
  27. ^ "Madagascar President Resigns". Voice of America. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  28. ^ African Union suspends Madagascar over 'coup' - Africa, World - The Independent
  29. ^ (UPDATE) Army puts Madagascar opposition leader in charge | Home >> Other Sections >> Breaking News
  30. ^ The Eighth Continent: Life, Death, and Discovery in the Lost World of Madagascar
  31. ^ a b "Science News: New Genus of Self-destructive Palm found in Madagascar". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  32. ^ Terrestrial Ecoregions -- Madagascar subhumid forests (AT0118), National Geographic.
  33. ^ Davies, S. J. J. F. (2003)
  34. ^ Lemurs Hunted, Eaten Amid Civil Unrest, Group Says. National Geographic News. August 21, 2009.
  35. ^ Science & the City | Public Gateway to the New York Academy of Sciences
  36. ^ "Independent States in the World". United States Department of State. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  37. ^ Madagascar - Country Facts- Goway Travel Experiences
  38. ^ "Made in Madagascar: Exporting Handicrafts to the U.S. Market: a Project with the UN Public-Private Alliance for Rural Development; Final Report"[1], A Project with the UN Public-Private Alliance for Rural Development.
  39. ^ Madagascar - Mining: Heavy Minerals Mining
  40. ^ Rio Tinto's Madagascar mining project
  41. ^ "Africa rejects Madagascar 'coup'" 20 March 2009 Link accessed 20 March 2009
  42. ^ "The educated African: a country-by-country survey of educational development in Africa". Helen A. Kitchen (1962). p.256.
  43. ^ U.S. Library of Congress,"Madagascar - Minorities"
  44. ^ L'ethnicisation des rapports sociaux à Madagascar
  45. ^ "Ethnic strife rocks Madagascar". BBC News. May 14, 2002.
  46. ^ "Madagascar - Population". Library of Congress Country Studies.
  47. ^ Shillington, Kevin (2005). Encyclopedia of African history. New York, NY: CRC Press. p. 878. ISBN 1579584535. 
  48. ^ a b c d e f g
  49. ^ "Le malgache et le français sont les langues officielles de la République Malgache." Constitution, Titre I, Art. 2; Constitutional Law 14 October 1958.
  50. ^ Haute Cour Constitutionnelle De Madagascar, Décision n°03-HCC/D2 Du 12 avril 2000
  51. ^ Madagascar adopts English as official language,, 10 April 2007.
  52. ^ a b
  53. ^ Madagascar and Africa III. The Anteimoro: A Theocracy in Southeastern Madagascar, by R. K. Kent The Journal of African History © 1969 pg 62
  54. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

External links

General information
News media
  • The Madagascar Project, Project set up to help Malagasy communities tackle the causes and effects of poverty
  • Old maps of Madagascar by CEGET library (CNRS, France)
  • Azafady UK charity and Malagasy NGO working in southeast Madagascar to alleviate poverty, improve well-being and protect beautiful unique environments with the help of its award winning volunteering programmes.
  • Shama Foundation of Madagascar charitable organization providing scholarships for underprivileged students in Madagascar
  • Opinions of La Haute Cour Constitutionelle du Madagascar
  • Blue Ventures award winning not-for-profit organisation dedicated to facilitating projects and expeditions that enhance global marine conservation and research. Based in Andavadoaka, South West coast of Madagascar.
  • Foko-madagascar not-for-profit organization and Rising Voices grantee project dedicated to the use of ICT as a tool to promote sustainable development, especially combining human development and the protection of the environment.
  • Overview, news, photos, cultural history. English and French
  • Madagascar Photos Madagascar
  • The Palmarium reserve, is situated on the East coast of Madagascar.
  • Keelonga, keelonga is an organisation dedicated to assisting rural primary schools with infrastructures and teachers


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Madagascar (2005 film) article)

From Wikiquote

Madagascar is a 2005 animated film about four Central Park Zoo animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity and are unexpectedly shipped back to Africa, becoming shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar.

Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. Written by Mark Burton, Billy Frolick, w:Eric Darnell, and Tom McGrath.
Someone's got a zoo loose.Taglines


Marty the Zebra

  • I'm ten years old, my life's half over. And I don't even know if I'm black with white stripes or white with black stripes.
  • Alex, do not interrupt me when I'm daydreaming. If a zebra's in the zone, leave him alone.
  • Grand Central Station. It's Grand, and it's Central.
  • (breaking the silence) It's the man!
  • Dagnabbit! I missed the express! Looks like I have to take the Stanford local.
  • Oh sugar, honey, iced tea!
  • Excuse me. You're biting my butt.

Alex the Lion

  • Here come the people, Marty! I love the people! It's fun-people-fun-time!
  • We can't call the people. They'll be really mad! They'll get Marty transfered for good! You don't bite the hand that feeds ya!
  • Come on, my little fillet. My little fillet mignon with a little fat around those edges. I like that. I like a little fat on my steak, my sweet, juicy steak. You are a rare delicacy...
  • Did he just say "Grand Central Station" or "My aunt's constipation"?
  • I feel like a mile-high pastrami on rye, on the fly from the deli in the sky! Let's go WILD!
  • [as he is beaten up by an old woman] Lady! What is wrong with you?!
  • Giraffe, corner pocket!
  • Shut up, Spalding.
  • You bit the hand, Marty! You bit the hand!
  • I'M GONNA KILL YOU! I'm gonna strangle you, then bury you, then dig you up and clone you and kill all your clones! And then I'll never talk to you AGAIN!
  • [in the middle of an argument with Marty] And your black and white stripes? They cancel each other out! You're nothing!
  • [to Marty, after the island is divided between them and Marty calls his side the fun side] This is the fun side! This is where we are gonna have a great time surviving until we go home! Your side stinks! You're on the Jersey side of this cesspool!
  • I don't know who I am! I don't know who I am? I gotta go find myself in the WILD!

Melman the Giraffe

  • Okay, listen up. You know how I have that bladder infection, and I wake up every two hours? Well, I got up to pee and, um, I looked over in Marty's pen which, you know, I normally don't do - I don't know why, but I did - but...
  • WAIT! It's Gloria! It's Gloriaaaaaaaa! Oh, it really is Gloria. Phew!
  • [after they discover Marty's disappearance] What are we gonna do?! We gotta-- we gotta-- I mean, we got, we gotta... we gotta call somebody!
  • I'm not smiling, it's gas.
  • Man, sleeping just knocks me out.
  • Ahhh, nature! It's all over me, get it off!
  • They are so cute from a reasonable distance.

Gloria the Hippo

  • It's okay. Cats always land on their... face? What kind of cat are you?
  • Don't you shush me!
  • Alrighty boys, fun's over.
  • Let's make gas look good.
  • Come on, we are New Yorkers, right? We're tough! We're gritty! We're adaptable! And we are not gonna lay down like a bunch of Melmans!
  • Don't make me come up there, I'll get the whuppin' on both of y'all.

Skipper the Penguin

  • Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.
  • Cute and cuddly, boys. Cute and cuddly!
  • You didn't see anything... RIGHT?
  • We've been ratted out, boys!
  • Can you keep a secret, my monochromatic friend?
  • You, Quadruped! Sprechen sie Englisch? What continent is this? Hoover Dam, we're still in New York!
  • Don't gimme excuses, gimme results!
  • Let's get this tin can turned around!
  • Well done boys, looks like ice-cold sushi for breakfast.
  • Hoover Dam!
  • Well boys, our monochromatic friend's in danger. Looks like we have a job to do. Captain's log: embarking into hostile territory. Kowalski! We'll need to win the hearts and the minds of the natives. Rico, we'll need special tactical equipment. We're gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won't survive.
  • [Gloria asks him where the people are] We killed 'em and ate their livers. [Gloria stares in shock] Gotcha, didn't i?

King Julien XIII

  • Shush! We are hiding! Everyone be quiet, including me. Shhh! Who's making that noise?! Oh, it's me again.
  • All we have to do is wait until they are deep in their sleep. [long pause] HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO TAKE?!
  • Good morning, Mister Alex. Rise and shining. Wakey, waking, Mister Alex! WAKE UP! ALEX! Oh, you suck your thumb?
  • You see, Maurice? Mister Alex was grooming his friend. He is clearly a tender, loving... thing. How could you have the heebie-jeebies for Mister Alex? He's so cute, and plushy!
  • Excuse me? We bozos have de people, of course!
  • Don't you just love de people? Not a very lively bunch though.
  • A bullseye! Excellent shot, Maurice!
  • Shame on you, Maurice! Can you not see that you have insulted the freak?
  • The plan worked! The plan worked! I'm very clever! I'm the one, baby! Come on! Time to robot! I am very clever king. Tok tok tok. I am super genius. I am robot king of the monkey things. Compute, compute.
  • I have an announcement to make, so quiet everyone! quiet!
  • After much deep and profound brain things inside my head, I have decided to thank you for bringing peace to our homeland. And to make you feel good, I am offering you this lovely parting gift. (Alex rejects Julien's crown) Yes you can. I have a bigger one, it has a gecko on it. Look at him shake, go Stevie go!
  • When the New York Giants fall asleep, we will make sure that they wake up in paradise. Now who'd like a cookie?
  • Okey dokey, Maurice. I admit it. The plan failed. All is lost! We are all doomed! The Foosas will come back and gobble us with their mouths, because! We are all steak.
  • See you later, crocodile! Maurice, my arm is tired. Wave it for me. Faster, you naughty little monkey!
  • All hail the New York Giants!
  • Well Maurice, it could be said that my plan is working in very a clever, good, working... um, kind of way.
  • Maurice, you did not raise your hand. Therefore your heinous comment will be stricken from the record. Does anyone else have the heebie-jeebies? No? Good. So shut up!
  • No matter, I don't care.
  • If he is a king, then where is his crown? I've got a crown, I've got a very nice one, and it's here on my head. Have I got it on?
  • They are just a bunch of pansies. Come on everybody! Let's go and meet the pansies!
  • They're aliens... Savage aliens! From the savage future!
  • Get up Mort! Do not be near the King's feet ok?
  • What did I tell you? I told you... I told you about the feet! Did I not tell him about the feet?

Maurice the Aye-Aye

  • Announcing the royal and illustrious King Julien the Thirteenth, self proclaimed Lord of the Lemurs, et cetera, et cetera, hooray everybody.
  • I'm telling you, that dude just gives me the heebidabajeebies!
  • Your friend here is what we call a deluxe hunting and eating machine, and he eats steak... which is you.
  • Oh my, what big teeth you have. MAN!

Mort the Cute Lemur

  • I'm steak! I'm steak! Me-me-me-me-me!
  • I like them, I like them! Before I even met them I liked them! You hate them compared to how much I like them!
  • King Julien, what are they? WHAT ARE THEY?!
  • He's going SAVAGE
  • Tonight we Die

Mason the Chimp

  • [Mason and Phil have just escaped from the zoo] I hear Tom Wolfe's speaking at Lincoln Centre. [Phil signs frantically] Well of course we're going to throw poo at 'im!
  • If you have any poo, fling it now.
  • Phil! Wake up, you filthy monkey.
  • I say!


Marty: The penguins are going so, why can't I?
Alex: The penguins are psychotic.

Alex: This is a highly refined, type of, food... thing that you do NOT find in the wild.
Marty: Do you ever think that there's more to life than just steak, Alex?
Alex: [stares at his steak] He didn't mean that, baby. No-no-no.

Julien: [watching Gloria cuddle Mort] They are just a bunch of pansies.
Maurice: I don't know, Julien. [referring to Alex] There's something about that guy with the crazy hair-do that I find suspicious.
Julien: Nonsense, Maurice! Come on everybody! Let's go and meet the pansies!

Alex: What could Connecticut have to offer us?
Melman: Lyme disease.
Alex: Thank you, Melman.

[Marty and Alex seem overjoyed to be reunited. They are running towards each other on the beach in slow motion with arms outstretched and Chariots of Fire playing. Their voices are slow and toned to a low key]
Alex: Marty!
Marty: Alex!
Alex: Marty!
Marty: Al!
Alex: [angrily] Marty!
Marty: [confused] Alex?
Alex: MARTY!
Marty: [turns to run] Oh sugar, honey, ice tea!

Gloria: [about Mort] Aw, aren't you just the sweetest little thing? I just wanna dunk you in my coffee.
Melman: They are so cute from a reasonable distance.

Maurice: [to Alex] Oh my, what big teeth you have. MAN!
Julien: Shame on you, Maurice! Can you not see that you have insulted the freak? [to Alex] You must tell me, who the heck are you?
Alex: I'm Alex. THE Alex. And this is Melman, Marty and Gloria.
Maurice: And where exactly are you giants from, Hmm?
Alex: We're from New York, and--
Julien: All hail the New York Giants!
Lemurs: (cheering) NEW YORK GIANTS!!!
Alex: [to Marty, Melman and Gloria] All right, enough is enough. I say we just ask these BOZOS where the people are!
Julien: Excuse me? We bozos have the people, of course!
Alex: You do? That's good to know.
Melman: Hey! The bozos have the people!
Julien: They're up there.
[points to some human skeletons hanging from parachutes snagged on the branches of a large tree]
Julien: Don't you love the people? Not a very lively bunch though.
Alex: Oh. So, do you have any... LIVE people?
Julien: Uh, no. Only dead ones.
Maurice: Man, if we had a lot of live people, it wouldn't be called the wild, would it?
Marty: The wild?!
Alex: Hold on a second there, fuzzbucket. You mean the live-in-a-mud-hut, wipe-yourself-with-a-leaf type wild?
Julien: Who wipes? Ha ha!

Julien: [presents Alex with his crown] I am going to give you this lovely parting gift.
Alex: Oh no, really. I can't take your crown.
Julien: That's okay, I've got a better one! It's got a gecko on it! Look at him shake! Go Stevie, go!

Julien: We thank you with enormous gratitude for scaring away the Fossa.
Gloria: The whossa?
Julien: The Fossa. They're alway annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off--
Alex: Yeah, sounds great.

Gloria: Where are the people?
Skipper: We killed 'em and ate their livers.
[Gloria looks horrified]
Skipper: Gotcha, didn't i? Just kidding doll, the people are fine. They're on a slow boat to China. Hang on, I know you two. Where's that psychotic lion, and our monochromatic friend?

[Last lines]

Private: Skipper, don't you think we should tell them the boat's out of gas?
Skipper: Nah, just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.

Skipper: Quadruped! Sprechen sie Englisch?
Marty: I sprechen.
Skipper: What continent is this?
Marty: Manhattan.
Skipper: Hoover Dam! We're still in New York! Abort! Dive! Dive! Dive!
Marty: Hey, wait! You in the tux! What are you guys doing?
Private: We're digging to Antartica! [Skipper slaps him]
Skipper: Can you keep a secret, my monochromatic friend? Do you ever see any penguins walking free around New York City? Of course not. We don't belong here, it's just not natural. This is all some kind of whacked-out conspiracy. We're going to the wide open spaces of Antartica. To the wild.
Marty: The wild? You can actually go there-- that's sounds great!
Skipper: You didn't see anything... right?
Marty: Yes, sir! I mean no, sir!

[the penguins are being transfered; Kowalski is looking at the label on their crate]
Skipper: Progress report.
Kowalski: It's an older code, Skipper. I can't make it out.
[Skipper notices the chimps in the crate next to them]
Skipper: You, higher mammal! Can you read?
Mason: No. Phil can read though. Phil!
[Phil appears; Kowalski gestures towards the label; Phil starts using sign language]
Mason: Ship to... Kenya... wildlife preserve... AFRICA!
Skipper: Africa? That ain't gonna fly. Rico!
[Rico vomits up a paper clip and uses it to unpick the lock on their crate]

Alex:[after Melman burned the rescue beacon in panic] You maniac! You burned it up! Darn you! Darn you all to HECK!
Melman:[callously] Can we go to the fun side now?

Mort: I like them! I like them! Before I even met them I liked them!
Julien: Yes, yes! We get it--
Mort: You HATE them compared to how much I like them--
Mort: [flattered] Hee-hee!

Alex: Ow, my head! [he bumps his head on the top of his crate] What the-- I'm in a box! Oh no! Not the box! Oh no, they can't transfer ME! NOT ME! I can't breathe, can't breathe! Darkness creeping in. I can't breathe. Walls closing in around me! So alone. So alone--
Marty: Alex, are you there?
Alex: Marty?
Marty: Yeah! Talk to me, bud!
Alex: Oh Marty, you're here!
Marty: What's going on? Are you okay?
Alex: This doesn't look good, Marty.
Gloria: Alex, Marty, is that you?
Marty: Gloria! I am lovin' the sound of your voice!
Gloria: What is going on?
Alex: We're all in crates.
Gloria: Oh no!
Melman: Man, sleeping just knocks me out.
Alex: Melman!
Gloria: Are you okay?
Melman: Yeah. I often doze off while I'm getting an MRI.
Alex: Melman, you're not getting an MRI!
Melman: CAT scan?
Alex: No! No CAT scan! It's a zoo transfer!
Melman: ZOO TRANSFER?! No, I can't be transferred. I have an appointment with Dr. Goldberg at 5:00. There are prescriptions that have to be filled! No other zoo can afford my medical care, and I am NOT going HMO!
Marty: Take it easy, Melman. We are gonna be o-kiz-ay!
Alex: No Marty, we're not gonna be o-kiz-ay. Now, because of you, we're ruined!
Marty: Excuse me, I fail to see how this is my fault.
Gloria: You're kidding, right Marty?
Alex: You ticked off the people! You bit the hand, Marty! You bit the hand! "I don't know who I am! I don't know who I am? I gotta go find myself in the WILD!"
Marty: Yeah, but I didn't ask you to come after me.
Melman: He does have a point. I did say we should have stayed at the zoo but, you guys--
Alex: Melman, just shut it! You're the one who gave him this idea in in the first place!
Gloria: Alex, would you just leave Melman out of this, please!
Melman: Thank you, Gloria. Besides, it's not my fault that we were TRANSFERRED!
Gloria: Melman, shut it. Does anyone feel nauseous?
Melman: I feel nauseous.
Alex: Melman, you always feel nauseous.

Melman: I just saw 26 blatant health code violations.
Marty: I'm lovin' San Diego. This place is off the chizain.
Melman: Twenty-seven!


  • Someone's got a zoo loose.
  • They weren't born in the wild. They were shipped there.


See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : East Africa : Madagascar
Quick Facts
Capital Antananarivo
Government Republic
Currency ariary (MGA)
Area total: 587,040 km2
water: 5,500 km2
land: 581,540 km2
Population 21,095,469 (July 2007 est.)
Language Malagasy (national&official), English (offical), French (official)
Religion Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
Calling Code +261
Internet TLD .mg
Time Zone UTC+3

Madagascar is a country that occupies a large island of the same name, located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. It is the fourth largest island in the world. Madagascar is famous for pepper, vanilla, and lemurs.


The country has six provinces (faritany) - Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, and Toliara.

The Malagasy people are generally considered to be patriotic. When Madagascar gained independence from France, the Malagasy changed much within the culture and languages, returning back to their original customs and traditions again. Today, Malagasy is the daily language spoken by 98% of the population in Madagascar, and since 1972, Malagasy language has been used as the teaching language in schools. However, some of Malagasy people are familiar or even fluent with foreign languages such as English, French, or German.

Map of Madagascar
Map of Madagascar


While Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, it was originally settled by people of Indonesian and African descent, which you can clearly see when one looks at the inhabitants. Others have suggested that the people of Madagascar descended from Indonesians and Africans who mixed before their arrival on the isolated island, but studies prove people of Madagascar came from Borneo and Africa. It is not fully known how the inhabitants came there or if they were there already. (This is taken from the Madagascar Welcome page) Only later did Arabs, Indians, and Jewish immigrants mix into the population of the island. The Malagasy way of thinking is a mixture of cultures, as well as their appearance and fashion style. It is a melting pot. Madagascar is part of the African Union, which is now being reconsidered due to the recent 2009 political turmoil.

Get in

From April 2009 any traveler from any nationality can enter Madagascar without purchasing a visa. (Visa free). [1]

By plane

From Europe, the best connections are with Air Madagascar ("AirMad"), Air France or Corsair from Paris to Antananarivo. AirMad also flies from Milan to Antananarivo and Nosy Be (a small island off the North of Madagascar).

Travelers from the east typically fly using links from Air Mauritius. However, since 2003 Air Madagascar has a twice weekly service from Bangkok to Antananarivo.

Air Madagascar also operates a weekly service between Nairobi and Antananarivo.

Flights from Johannesburg, South Africa, using Air Madagascar codeshared with SA Airlink [2]. Flights run 6 days a week.

By boat

The only regular link is from Toamasina on the east coast and Mauritius via Reunion.

Get around

By plane

Air Madagascar serves numerous destinations throughout the country, which is a good thing considering the bad state of the roads. Besides the big cities, lots of little hamlets are also served.

It is advisable to check the status of your flight in advance, as timetable changes can occur at fairly short notice.

There was some political unrest in 2002, which resulted in some airports being temporarily shut.

Passengers who arrive in Madagascar on a long-haul flight from Air Madagascar can benefit from reductions on the order of 25% on the company's internal flights.

By train

There are three rail lines in Madagascar :

With the Malagasy railway network dating from the colonial period, breakdowns are frequent due to poor maintenance, and a line may be closed for several weeks.

There is also a private micheline which assures the link between Antananarivo and Toamasina. This historic train runs only on prior reservation (at least one month in advance) and the price is worthwhile only if all 18 seats are full.

The train is not the fastest and most comfortable means of travel, but it lets you admire the magnificent landscapes (especially on the line connecting Fianarantsoa to Manakara) and discover the Malagasy fruits and dishes offered at every stop. You can taste what is in season at little cost : crayfish, bananas, cinnamon apples, sambos, zebu sausages, oranges... Unfortunately, the train that runs between Manakara and Fianarantsoa has become less reliable lately (early 2007) due to poor conditions of the tracks.

By road

This is the only inexpensive way to get around, but Madagascar's roads are almost all of very low grade (with the exception of 2 routes leading out of Tana). Many roads are studded with potholes and are quagmires in the rainy season. Be warned that travel by road will almost always take much more time than you would normally expect. Hire of a 4WD vehicle can reduce this problem but the cost will be high. Due to the poor condition of the roads many car hire companies will only rent you a car if you use one of their drivers[3].

By Taxi-Brousse

This is the way most natives travel around the country. There is only one major modern road in the country and that runs from Tana, the capital, to Tulear, a south-western coastal town. Trip between the two towns takes about a day whereas traveling between Tana and Fort-Dauphin, a south-eastern coastal town, would take about 3 or 4 days due to the condition of the road. Travel is cramped and don't expect air conditioning. Expect dust to be a problem in the dry season. Travel by Taxi-Brousse is guaranteed to test one's patience and sanity, but there is quite possibly no better way to meet and interact with the locals and experience Madagascar as the Malagasy do.

By Taxi-Be

In Tana, the cheapest way to get around is by taxi-be, or big taxi, which is a bit larger than a mini-van. There is one aisle with seats to fold down so they can cram in even more people. During peak season, buses run frequently.

By boat

If you are looking for an unusual holiday, a yacht charter to Madagascar might be a good choice. You can be sure that your neighbors have not been there and done that… For those who would like to bareboat, a “guide” is usually included in the price of the yacht charter. Although obligatory, he comes with the price and is essential for the multitude of services he will provide. He will prepare the food, recommend anchorages, know where to fish and refill the water tanks. He will speak the local language and have an established relationship with the local people. He will protect the boat from theft when you leave it to explore on land. The guide lives completely on the exterior of the boat and does not require a cabin. A yacht charter to Madagascar is a bit of a “Robinson Crusoe” adventure. Once you embark, you will not be able to stock up provisions again and must live off the fish and seafood you will catch for yourself (or with your guide). So take great care with your provisioning list. This problem can be avoided by chartering one of the crewed catamarans. Cats are designed for stability so sea sickness is not really a problem. The crew prepare the boat with linen, food and drinks before your arrival - basically these boats are like a personal floating hotel. Depending on which boat you choose you could receive excellent service and food and suggestions of where to go and what to do. Choose your catamaran carefully as there are some really old ones in service- make sure the crew can speak your language.

No need to have any sailing experience on Yacht Gecko ( All meals are prepared for you by a chef, you have the boat to yourselves and you have a skipper and deckhand on board. Discover deserted islands, dive, snorkel and fish. These guys know what they are doing!

  • Yacht charter Madagascar [4] Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to luxury yacht around Madagascar starting Nosy Be. Operating from different offices worldwide (USA, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Honk Kong and Dubai).

By bicycle

Madagascar is a great place to tour by bike and staying in small towns and villages along the way gives a real sense of what the country is all about. A mountain bike or heavy duty tourer at least is required as the roads can be in poor to terrible condition. In rainy season on the East coast the main North-south road can become impassable, possibly leading to a two day walk - over soft sand in one section - this is not an easily rideable route. Generally there is little to no traffic which makes cruising around a great pleasure. The people are amazingly friendly and you'll be greeted with crowds of children shouting 'Vazaha' in every village. There are little or no facilities for cyclists, so be prepared to camp rough (ask if it is somebody's land and never too near a family grave) or sleep in very basic guesthouses. Likely you will be invited to stay in people's houses. Bring a spare tire, puncture kit, chain, brake/gear cable, derailleur and all the tools you need.

The ring-tailed lemur is unique to the fauna of Madagascar
The ring-tailed lemur is unique to the fauna of Madagascar

The remarkable thing about Madagascar is that the entire island speaks one language: Malagasy, an Austronesian language. As well as being the name of the language, "Malagasy" also refers to the people of the island. Because the island is so large there are many different dialects. The Merina dialect is the "Official Malagasy" of the island and is spoken around highlands of Antananarivo. Most Malagasy, however, speak Merina across the island.

French is the second official language of Madagascar. The government and large corporations use French in everyday business, but 75-85% of Malagasy only have limited proficiency in this language. Attempts by foreigners to learn and speak Malagasy are liked and even encouraged by the Malagasy people.

The third offical language is English, though very few people speak English. It became an offical language in 2007.


The unit of money is the ariary. 1 € is about 2500 ariary and 1 US$ is about 1500 ariary. As of 2008, the value of the ariary has been rather stable for a few years. The currency system was overhauled in 2006. Prior to 2006 the unit of currency was the Malagasy Franc (Franc Malgache) and was worth 1/5 of an ariary, for example, 10,000 Francs = 2000 Ariary. However, old banknotes in Francs are still legal tender. Whenever negotiating a price, ALWAYS CONFIRM THE AMOUNT IN ARIARY. Unscrupulous merchants have been known to state the amount due without specifying the currency so that buyers are duped into paying 5 times the amount due because of Franc/Ariary confusion.

You can withdraw money from ATM's in the cities, using a Visa or Visa Electron card. As from July 2008, Mastercard can be used with ATM's of the BNI bank.

Vanilla and other spices are cheap in Madagascar compared to Europe or elsewhere, and the quality (especially of vanilla) is very good. (Vanilla is about 2 € for 10 pods in Mada, compared to 3 € for 2 pods in France.)


The cheapest way to get a meal is to eat at a "hotely". For about 1300 ariary (or a little less than $1) you can buy a plate of rice, laoka (malagasy for side dish accompanying rice) like chicken, beans or pork, and rice water. For 200 ariary extra you can get a small glass of homemade yogurt.

Bananas (hundreds of varieties) and rice cakes {Malagasy 'bread') are staple 'street food' and available everywhere. Coffee is very good, usually hand-made by the cup and served very sweet with condensed milk. Steak-frites is available in restaurants in the larger towns.


There is no safe tap water so be prepared with bottled water, which is usually easily obtainable. The only other option is ranomapango (RAN-oo-ma-PANG-oo) or rice water (water used to cook rice, which will therefore have been boiled). It's particularly important to plan ahead if visiting rural areas.

In towns, roadside drink stands, stores and bars are plentiful. Most sell a range of drinks including bottled water, Coca Cola and Madagascar's beer, Three Horses Beer ("THB"). You can also try the bubblegum flavored soda 'Bonbon Anglais' (similar to South American Inka Cola, if you are very brave!). Be warned that this may be sold as 'limonade' - leading you to think it may be lemonade.

Home brewed rum, and creme de coco, is also available - in many flavours!

  • Bushhouse Lodge[6] in Pangalanes lake district on the east coast of Madagascar
  • Tsanga Banga [7] hotel / bed & breakfast in Nosy Komba, an island off the northwest coast of Madagascar
  • Tsara Camp [8] tented accommodation in the central highlands by Andringitra National Park
  • Radama Hotel [9] A charming hotel in the heart of Antananarivo.
  • Chez Maggie [10] Situated directly on the beach in Morondava (West coast), very nice and excellent food
  • Vovo Telo Situated steps from the Mozambique Channel in the town of Mangily, North of Tulear
  • Yacht Gecko, Nosy Be, [11]. fully crewed, all meals and activities. Sleeps 8 people. Getaway from the crowds R1350 pppd. (,6 nights) edit
  • Madagascar hotels[12]large selection of hotels in Madagascar.
  • Anakao Ocean Lodge (Hotel Anakao), Anakao, Andovoke bay, [13]. Anakao Ocean Lodge & Spa it's the only 4 star resort of Meridional Madagascar. An oasis of rare beauty where time seems to have stopped.  edit

Stay safe

Madagascar is a fairly safe country. You must, however, respect some simple principles:

  • Don't provoke stray dogs.
  • Don't walk around at night in big cities.
  • Don't exhibit signs of wealth (cameras, jewels, ...).
  • Don't resist in case of aggression.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings when using public transportation or visiting markets where numerous pickpockets swarm.

It should also be noted that, like any other developing country, the presence of beggars never goes unnoticed. This is sometimes uncomfortable for tourists, but these people should be respected none-the-less. They are, predictably, attracted to foreigners and will not hesitate to ask for a hand out. If you don't want to be bothered, a simple "Non, merci" or "Tsy Misy (tsee-meesh)" (I have nothing) will do the trick. If they persist, try shouting "Mandehana! (man-day-han)" (Go Away!). It is recommended not to give money, but other useful items, such as a banana, a piece of bread, etc. It is usually accepted with gratitude, and if the beggar is a child, he will run away with a smile on his face.

Stay healthy

While the AIDS epidemic has not reached the devastating level found in many southern African countries, it is widely assumed that the incidence of AIDS is underestimated and rising. You should take no risks and avoid unprotected sex in all cases.

Areas inhabited by humans will invariably have large populations of stray dogs. Never provoke a stray dog, and although bites are rare, if bitten seek medical assistance promptly as rabies is not unheard of.

Research malaria prophylaxis options, and follow through. If you are not taking any prophylactics, be sure to always use a mosquito net for sleeping, and apply mosquito repellents once dusk sets in. On-skin repellent (only repellents containing ~40% DEET are effective, such as NoBite, Azeron Before Tropics etc.) is good but should be used in combination with on-clothes repellent (i.e. NoBite). The clothes repellent is odorless approximately an hour after application, and clothes can be washed up to 4 times before it needs to be re-applied. If you wear long-sleeve clothing treated with the repellent and apply on-skin repellent to the skin parts not covered, you will be very safe against mosquito bites and can skip the prophylaxis with its notorious side effects. Be sure to take the repellent issue seriously, though, as it's very easy to fall into a more 'relaxed' mode after you've spent some time in the country.

Remember that Madagascar is located in the tropics and take precautions against sunburn and heat exhaustion seriously. Wear lots of sunscreen and keep hydrated. Remember that a cloudy day does not mean you won't get burnt.


Everyday life in Madagascar is regulated by numerous fady (taboos) which vary from one region to another. They can forbid foods (pork, lemur, turtle... ), wearing clothes of a particular colour, bathing in a river or a lake. Observance of "Fady" is mostly limited to rural areas, as tourists will most likely not run into this problem if they stay in the main towns.

Fady are attributed to ancestors, to whom Malagasy adopt a respectful attitude whatever their religion. It is safest to respect these prohibitions and not violate them, even if you feel they don't make sense. Inform yourself about local fady when you arrive in a new place.

When addressing anyone older than you or in a position of authority (e.g. police, military, customs officials), use the word "tompoko (toom-pook)" the same way you would use "Sir" or "Ma'am" in English. Respect for elders and authority figures is important in Madagascar.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MADAGASCAR, an island in the Indian Ocean, and after New Guinea and Borneo the largest island in the world, about 260 m. distant, at the nearest point, from the S.E. coast of Africa, from which it is separated by the Mozambique Channel. Since 5896 Madagascar has been a French colony. It is 995 m. in length from N. to S., and about 250 m. in average breadth, although near the centre it is nearly 360 m. across; its area is about 228,000 sq. m., or not quite four times the extent of England and Wales. It lies mainly between 44° and 50° E. Its northernmost point, Cape Ambro, in 12° S., inclines 16° to the E. from the longitude of Cape St Mary, the southernmost point, in 25° 35' S., so that the main axis of the island runs from N.N.E. to S.S.W. In its broad structure Madagascar consists of an elevated mountainous region, from 3000 to 5000 ft. in altitude, occupying from two-fifths to a half of the centre and the eastern side of the island, around which are extensive plains at a much less elevation above the sea, and most developed on the western and north-west sides. But this lower region is broken up by masses of hills, with several elevated plateaus, especially in the south-west and south.

Physical Features. - Madagascar has a very regular and compact form, with few indentations considering its great extent of shore-line. In general outline it has a strong resemblance to the impression of a human foot - the left side. Along two-thirds of its eastern side the coast is almost a straight line, without any inlet, Tamatave, the chief port on this side of the island, being only protected by coral reefs. North of this line, however, is Antongil Bay, a deep and wide inlet running northwards for about 50 m.; farther north is Port Louquez, and at almost the extreme point of the island is Diego-Suarez Bay, one of the finest harbours in the world. But the north-western side of Madagascar is broken up by a number of inlets, some of them land-locked and of considerable size. South of Cape St Andrew, the north-west angle of the island, the coast-line is unbroken until the estuary of the river Onilahy, or St Augustine's Bay, is reached. Rounding the southern end of the island, there is no other inlet save the small bay north of Fort Dauphin, at the southern end of the straight line of coast already mentioned.

The islands around Madagascar are few and unimportant. The largest are Ste Marie, near the eastern coast, a narrow island about 35 m. long, and Nossi-be, larger and more compact in form, opposite Ampasindava Bay on the N.W. coast. Except the Minnow group, north of Nossi-be, the rest are merely rocky islets, chiefly of coral.

The shores of the greater portion of the southern half of the island are low and flat, but in the northern half the coast is often bold and precipitous, the high land occasionally approaching the sea. On the eastern side the plains vary from to to 50 m. in breadth, but on the western side they exceed in some localities too m. From these coast-plains the ground rises by successive ranges of hills to the high interior land. This elevated region is broken in all directions by mountains, from which the crystalline rocks show most frequently as huge bosses, and in certain regions present very varied and picturesque outlines, resembling Titanic castles,cathedrals,domes, pyramids and spires. The highest mountain mass is centrally situated as regards the length of the island, but more to the eastern side. This is the ancient extinct volcano Ankaratra, three of the highest points varying in elevation from 7284 to 8635 ft. above the sea, and from 4000 to 5000 ft. above the general level of the surrounding country. The loftiest of these is named Tsi-afa-javona, i.e. " That which the mists cannot climb." It had been supposed that Ankaratra was the highest point in the island, but in 1903 it was found that Ambero, in the northern province of Antankarana, is about 9490 ft. in altitude. Besides these highest points there are a considerable number of mountains in the central provinces of Imerina and Betsileo and the intervening and surrounding districts; and in the Bara country the Isalo range has been compared to the "Church Buttes" and other striking features of the scenery of Utah. One of the finest of the Madagascar mountains is an isolated mass near the northern point of the island called Ambohitra. This is 4460 ft. high, and rising from land little above the sea-level, is well seen far out to sea.

In the elevated region of Madagascar are many fertile plains and valleys, the former being the dried-up beds of ancient lakes. Among these are Betsimitatatra in Imerina, and Tsienimparihy in Betsileo, supplying a large proportion of the rice required for the capitals of these two provinces. Still more spacious valleys are the Antsihanaka country and the Ankay district, between the two eastern lines of forest. The extensive coast plains on the western side of the island are chiefly in Iboina (N.W.) and in Menabe (S. of the Tsiribihina River); those on the east are widest in the Taifasy country (S.E.). The water-parting for six-sevenths of the whole length of the island is much nearer the eastern than the western side, averaging from 80 to 90 m. from the sea. There are no arid districts, except in the extreme south-west and towards the southern point of the island. The general surface of the interior highland consists of bare rolling moor-like country, with a great amount of red claylike soil, while the valleys have a rich humus of bluish-black alluvium.

The chief rivers flow to the west and north-west sides of the island. The eastern streams are all less in size, except the Mangoro, which flows parallel with the coast. Few of them therefore are of much service for navigation, except for the light-draught native canoes; and all of them are more or less closed at their outlets by sand-bars. Beginning at the south-eastern point and going northwards, the principal rivers are the Mananara, Manampatrana, Matitanana, Mananjary, Mangoro, with its great affluent Onive, Vohitra, 1Vlaningory, and the Antanambalana at the head of Antongil Bay. On the N.W. coast, going southwards, are the Sofia and Mahajamba, falling into Mahajamba Bay, the Betsiboka with the Ikopa - the great drains of the northern central provinces, forming unitedly the second largest river of the island and falling into Bembatoka Bay - the Mahavary, Manambolo, Tsiribihina or Onimainty, the third largest river, with its tributaries the Kitsamby, Mahajilo and Mania, the Morondava, Mangoky, probably the largest river in the country, with its important tributaries the Matsiatra, Manantanana and Ranomaitso, the Fiherenana and Onilahy. On the south coast are four considerable streams, the largest of which is the Menarandra. Of the western rivers the Betsiboka can be ascended by small steamers for about 100 m., and the Tsiribihina is also navigable for a considerable distance. The former is about 300 m. long; the latter somewhat less, but by its affluents spreads over a greater extent of country, as also does the Mangoky. The rivers are all crossed frequently by rocky bars, which often form grand waterfalls. The eastern rivers cut their way through the ramparts of the high land by magnificent gorges amidst dense forest, and descend by a succession of rapids and cataracts. The Matitanana, whose falls were first seen by the writer in 1876, descends at one plunge some 400 ft.; and on the Vohitra River, whose valley is followed by the railway, there are also many fine waterfalls.

On the eastern side of Madagascar the contest between the fresh water of the rivers and the sea has caused the formation of a chain of lagoons for nearly 300 m. In many places these look like a river following the coast-line, but frequently they spread out into extensive sheets of water. By cutting about 30 m. of canal to connect them, a continuous waterway could be formed for 270 m. along the coast. This has already been done for about 55 m. between Ivendrona and Andevoranto, a service of small steamers forming part of the communication between the coast and the capital. Besides these lagoons, there are few lakes of any size in Madagascar, although there were some very extensive lakes in a recent geological epoch. Of the largest of these, the Alaotra Lake in the Antsihanaka plain is the relic; it is about 25 m. long. Next comes Kinkony, near Maroambitsy Bay (N.W. coast), about 16 m. long, and then Itasy, in western Imerina, about half as large. There is also a salt lake, Tsimanampetsotsa (S.W. coast), about as large as Alaotra.

There is now no active volcano in Madagascar, but a large number of extinct cones are found, some apparently of very recent formation. Some miles south of Diego-Suarez is a huge volcanic mountain, Ambohitra, with scores of subsidiary cones on its slopes and around its base. About 40 m. south-west of Antananarivo there is a still larger extinct volcano, Ankaratra, with an extensive lava field surrounding it; while near Lake Itasy are some 200 volcanic cones. Another group of extinct volcanoes is in the Vakinankaratra district, S.W. of Ankaratra. Many others exist in other parts of the island (see § Geology). Slight shocks of earthquake are felt every year, and hot springs occur at many places. Several of these are sulphurous and medicinal, and have been found efficacious in skin diseases and in internal complaints.

Table of contents


Madagascar may be divided into two very distinct geological regions, viz. (I.) the Archean Region, which extends over the central and eastern portions of the island and occupies about two-thirds of its whole area, and is composed of crystalline schists; and (II.) the Western Region, of sedimentary rocks, including the remaining third of the island, in the centre of which, however, is an isolated patch of Archean rocks, near Cape St Andrew. There are also found in both regions numerous masses of igneous rocks, both plutonic and volcanic, in some places of considerable extent, which pierce through and overflow the earlier formations.


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In the apparent absence of any Cambrian formation above them, there is little doubt that these rocks are Archean, although this cannot be absolutely proved.

I. The Archean Region.' - This region, nearly coincident with the mountainous upper portion of the island, is chiefly composed of the following crystalline rocks: gneiss, which is the most common of them all, quartzite and quartz-schist, with occasional beds of crystalline limestone and mica-schist, although this latter rock is very rare. The gneiss is mostly grey, but occasionally pinkish, its essential constituents (felspar and quartz) being almost always associated with dark mica (biotite) and hornblende in variable quantity. The rock is therefore a hornblende-granitite-gneiss. Granite - more to S.S.W.), but in its western portion the strike is frequently from N.N.W. to S.S.E. In both cases the strike of the rocks is coincident with the direction of several large valleys, which mark huge faults in the crystalline rocks. Almost the whole of this region is covered by a red soil, often of great thickness, which resembles and is often described as " clay," but is really decomposed rock, chiefly gneiss, reddened with oxidized magnetite.

II. The Sedimentary Region. - The sedimentary rocks extend continuously along the western side of Madagascar, following the coastline; in the north these series of strata are only from 20 to 30 m. across, but farther south they reach a breadth of nearly loo m., while opposite the Betsileo province they extend nearly half across the island. A narrow band, of Cretaceous age, occurs also on the east coast, for about 120 m., between Vatomandry and Mananjary. The following formations are represented i. Primary. It is thought that certain beds of slaty rocks, which have been recognized at different places, may belong to some of the Primary strata. Some siliceous schists of the Permian age were discovered in 1908 in the valley of the Sakameira, south of the Onilahy, or Augustine river. (S.W. coast). These contain reptilian remains, and also clear imprints of leaves of the Glossopteris indica, as well as other indications of an ancient vegetation. In the same region conglomerates have been found containing enormous blocks, apparently brought by glacial action, and said to be identical in character with those described as existing in the Transvaal. True coal has also been obtained in the same district, the deposits varying from a third to half a metre in thickness.

2. Secondary. The lowest members of these rest directly upon the central mass of crystalline rocks, and consist of sandstones, conglomerates and shales, which have been supposed by some to belong to the Trias, without, however, the discovery of any fossil necessary to confirm this supposition, except some silicified trunks of trees. These beds are most probably lower members of the Jurassic series. Westward of and above these strata, the Middle and Upper Jurassic formations are found (Lias, Lower Oolite, Oxfordian, &c.), with well-marked and numerous fossils (Ammonites, Nerinaea, Natica, Astarte, Rhynchonella, Echinodermata, &c.); then the Cretaceous rocks, both these and the Jurassic series being largely developed, the Cretaceous fossils including Nautilus, Belemnites, Ostrea, Gryphaea, &c., and some very large Ammonites (Pachydiscus). The Secondary strata show generally a very slight dip westwards and are consequently almost horizontal. They do not seem to have been greatly disturbed, although faults occur here and there.

3. Tertiary. A small strip of coast of Eocene age is known near Tullear (S.W. coast), and rocks of the same period occur in Nossi-be, at Mahajamba Bay, and at Diego-Suarez, with Nummulites and other foraminifers. Near the latter locality, beds of Oligocene age have been noticed, consisting of coarse limestones.

4. Quaternary and Recent. A narrow band of these deposits extends along the west coast, from north of Cape St Andrew nearly to the extreme southern point of the island. But the most noticeable of these are those in the ancient bed of the Alaotra Lake, which formerly extended far southwards along the valley of the Mangoro; also those in the marshes of Antsirabe and of Ifanja, in the Ikopa valley (the great rice plain west of the capital), and also in the plain of Tsienimparihy in Betsileo, and especially the recent deposits of Ampasambazimba, north-west of Lake Itasy, discovered in 1902. These beds, rich in sub-fossil remains, have yielded important additions to our knowledge of the extinct fauna of the island. (See § Palaeontology.) Igneous Rocks. (I) Plutonic rocks. - The ancient or plutonic igneous rocks (including granite, syenite, diorite, gabbro, porphyry, porphyrite, norite retinite) appear at various points of the two previously described regions. In the Archean region the gneiss is very often found passing into granite, but certain granitic masses have a sufficiently distinct character. In the midst of the sedimentary region are two well-recognized masses of plutonic rocks, belonging to the syenites, sometimes quartziferous in structure. (2) Volcanic rocks. - Recent volcanic eruptive rocks (including rhyolite, trachyte, phonolite, andesite and basalt) have been examined at a number of points throughout both the geological regions of the island. In the Archean region these are very noticeable near Lake Itasy, in the massif of Ankaratra (an ancient volcano) and in Vakinankaratra (at Betafo, Antsirabe, &c.); while there are numerous outflows of doleritic rocks, probably from faults, along the eastern side of the island and almost parallel with the coast line. In the sedimentary region volcanic rocks are very numerous; the most extensive of these is a tract of country, more than 80 m. long, on the west coast, where the basalt has overflowed the Cretaceous strata. It must be remembered that the geology of Madagascar is still only known in its broad features.' Minerals and Metals. - The country has considerable mineral wealth. Gold is found almost all over the region of crystalline rocks, except in and around the Antsihanaka province, the richest auriferous districts being a band of country parallel with the east coast and spreading at its southern end into the interior; and another tract, whose centre is about 100 m. N. of the capital (see § Industries, &c.). Silver has been detected in certain galenas, and also platinum; copper has been found in various localities, as well as zinc, lead, nickel, antimony and manganese, but none of these metals has yet been discovered in sufficient quantities for profitable working. Iron, on the contrary, especially magnetite, is found abundantly and has for long been worked by the Malagasy with the simple appliances brought by their ancestors from their original home in the Far East. The principal seats of the native industry are on the edge of the upper forest, where charcoal is easily procured. The following precious stones are reported: corundum (rubies and sapphires), beryl, topaz, zircon, garnet, amazon-stone, tourmaline, often in large crystals, and variously coloured quartz, also often found in crystals of great size. Bitumen and petroleum have been found; graphite is plentiful, and sulphur, salt, saltpetre and lime are also procured. On the north-west coast thin beds of lignite occur, and coal has been found in the valley of the Sakameira.


Researches in various parts of the island have revealed the existence, in a subfossil state, of the bones of numerous birds of the family Struthidae. These have been arranged in twelve species, belonging to two genera, Aepyornis and Mullerornis, which varied in size from that of a bustard to birds much exceeding an ostrich, and rivalling the recently extinct moa of New Zealand, the largest species being about to ft. in height. One species of these great wingless birds laid an egg which is the largest known, being 122 in. by 92 in. Associated with these remains there have been found those of many other birds, including a hawk, a duck, a darter, a spoonbill, a heron, a rail and a wild-goose, some of these being much larger than any now inhabiting Madagascar. In the same beds the remains of two, if not three, species of hippopotamus have been found, about two-thirds the size of the living South African species; also the bones and carapace, &c., of gigantic tortoises, and the bones of a crocodile, now extinct on the coast and rivers, but still living in the two chief lakes; also the remains of a river-hog, of a species of swine, and of a slender-legged form of zebu-ox. Near the south-west coast the skull of a large lemuroid animal was discovered in 1893, much longer than that of any living lemur, the animal being probably three times the size of any previously known Madagascar lemuroid. Later still, in 1899 and subsequently, the bones of two other creatures of the same suborder have been discovered, one of them indicating an animal much larger than a man. Many of these birds and animals were probably contemporaneous with the earliest human inhabitants of Madagascar. The remains of two species of Edentata have been found, as well as those of several species of small Rodents, also of a Carni v ore (Cryptoprocta), a larger variety of the species still living in the island.

In the deposits of a much more remote era than those already spoken of - the Jurassic - the bones of some enormous terrestrial lizards have been brought to light, belonging to Sauropodous Dinosaurs of the genera Bothriospondylus and Titanosaurus, and to a Theropod of the genus Megalosaurus. In the beds of the Lower Oolite portions of the skull of a reptile resembling the gavial of the Ganges had been previously discovered, from which a new genus called Steneosaurus has been founded. Since the French occupation (1895) considerable additions have been made to our knowledge of the fossil fauna of Madagascar from researches made both on the west and south-west coast (at Belo and Ambolisatrana) and in the interior (at Antsirabe), especially in the rich deposits near Tsarazaza (Ampasambazimba), to the north-west of Lake Itasy. From these various localities the subfossil remains of thirteen or fourteen extinct species of lemuroid animals (including the gigantic species already mentioned) have been obtained, and have been classified under five new genera: viz. Megaladapis (3 sp.), Palaeopropithecus (3 sp.), Archaeolemur (2 sp.), Bradylemur (1 sp.) and Hadropithecus (1 sp.), together with three new species of lemur. Of these, the Archaeolemurs seem to have combined the characteristics of lemuroid animals with those of the monkeys, while Hadropithecus is pronounced to be the nearest known link with them. A list of all the fossils of the island known in 1895, but omitting the vertebrates above mentioned, included 1 For most of the information here given on the geology the writer is indebted ' to Captain Mouneyres, chef de services des mines, and the Rev. R. Baron, F.G.S., F.L.S.

140 species,' belonging to the Mollusca, Foraminifera, Echinodermata, Actinozoa and Plantae; but the researches of French geologists made the total number of Madagascar fossils known in 1907 to be not fewer than 280 species.


In the high interior the climate resembles that of the temperate zones, although six-sevenths of the island are within the tropics; there is no intense heat, and it is quite cold, occasionally touching freezing point, during the nights of the cool season. These parts of the country are tolerably healthy for Europeans. But the coasts are much hotter, especially on the western side, as is also the interior west of the highland region; and from the large amount of marsh and lagoon on the coasts, malarial fever is common and frequently fatal, both to Europeans and to natives from the interior. Epidemics of influenza and fever have been very prevalent of late years in the central provinces. The seasons are two - the hot and rainy season from November to April, and the cool and dry season during the rest of the year; this remark applies chiefly to the interior, for rain falls throughout the year on the eastern coast, which is exposed to the vapour-laden south-east trade winds. The rainfall diminishes as one goes westward and especially south-westward, there being very little rain in the south-west corner of the island. No snow is known, even on the loftiest mountains, but thin ice is occasionally seen; and hail-showers, often very destructive, are frequent in the rainy season. Terrific thunderstorms are also common at that period; waterspouts are sometimes seen; and as the Indian Ocean cyclone region touches the eastern coast, hurricanes occur every few years, at rare intervals ascending into the interior highland. The yearly rainfall of the Imerina province (Antananarivo) averages about 542 in.; accurate statistics as to that of other parts of the island are not available; but on the east coast it appears to be about double that of the interior; in the south-east considerably more than that amount; while at Morondava (west coast) it is given as about 21 in. annually, and at Tullear (south-west coast) as only ro in. At Tamatave (east coast) the mean annual temperature is given as 76.5°, while at the capital it is about 66°; the temperature of Antananarivo resembles that of Naples or Palermo.' The following table gives the mean of two different sets of government returns of mean rainfall: Antananarivo, 1369 mm.; Tamatave, E. coast, 1863 mm.; Farafangana, S.E. coast, 2803 mm.; Diego - Suarez, N. end of island, 1196 mm.; Morondava, W. coast, 543 mm.; Tullear, S.W. coast, 273 mm.; Marovoay, W. interior, 1413 mm.


The fauna of Madagascar, while deficient in most of the characteristic tropical forms of life, is one of great interest to the naturalist from its remote affinities, much of its animal life having Asiatic rather than African relationships. The central portions of the island, from their generally bare and treeless character, are poor in living creatures; but the lower country, and especially the forests and coast plains, are fairly well stocked. But it is noticeable that many species have a very limited range. Although a continental island, it possesses no large quadrupeds - none of the larger carnivorous, ungulate, proboscoid or quadrumanous animals; but it is the headquarters of the Lemuroidea, no fewer than thirty-nine species of which are found in its forests and wooded plains. Some of these creatures are highly specialized, while the curious aye-aye (Chirornys madagascariensis), an allied form, is one of the most remarkable animals known, forming a genus and family by itself. Its whole structure is strangely modified to enable it to procure the woodboring larvae which form its food. Other peculiar animals are twenty-three species of the Centetidae, a family of the Insectivora almost confined to Madagascar; while of the Carnivora there are several small creatures belonging to the civets (Viverridae). The largest of these ferocious animals, also forming a genus and family by itself, is the Cryptoprocta ferox; it is a plantigrade animal, 3 ft. long, but very like an enormous weasel, and attacks other animals with the greatest ferocity. The island contains twenty-five species of bats, mostly of African, but some of Indian, affinities. African humped cattle were introduced several hundred years ago and now exist in large herds all over the country. The fat-tailed sheep, goats and swine have also been naturalized, as well as all kinds of domestic poultry.

The avi-fauna is much richer than the mammalian, and, although wanting the 'largest birds as well as the most brilliantly coloured, comprises two hundred and sixty species, half of which are endemic. Many of the birds are remarkable not so much for their shape or colouring as for their distant relationships; many belong to peculiar genera, and some are so isolated that new families have had to be formed for their reception. There is a large variety of perching birds, including several species of brilliant plumage - sun-birds, kingfishers, rollers and flycatchers, &c.; kites, hawks and owls are numerous, and the lakes and marshes abound with water-fowl and herons, ibises, &c.

The island is free from deadly serpents, but contains two or three 2 See " On a Collection of Fossils from Madagascar," by R. B. Newton, Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. (Feb. 18 95) .

3 The following are figures of mean temperature, kindly supplied by the 'Rev. E. Colin, S. J., director of the observatory: DiegoSuarez, N., 79°; Farafangana, S.E. coast, 75°; Marovoa a y, W. intr., 8r°; Morondava,. W. coast, 77'; Tullear, S. W. coast, 78'.

small species of boa; crocodiles abound in the rivers and lakes; and numerous species of lizard, chameleon and tree-frog inhabit the woods. Madagascar may be considered as one of the headquarters of the Chamaeleonidae, for of the fifty known species no fewer than twenty-five have already been described from the island. Many of these are of curious form, with remarkable developments of the plates of the head and projecting horns and spines. There are several peculiar tortoises, but the gigantic species are now found alive only on the little island of Aldabra, to the north. The insect life comprises many brilliantly-coloured beetles, butterflies (about eight hundred species of which are known), moths, locusts, spiders and flies, and also noxious spiders, with scorpions and centipedes. The river fishes belong chiefly to the family Chromididae; many of them are of brilliant and bizarre appearance, with strongly contrasted colours in bands and spots. Those found in the coast waters do not differ materially from the widely spread Indian Ocean species.

As a whole, the Madagascar fauna is marked by a strong individuality, which would appear to be the result of long isolation from the other zoological " regions." The Asiatic and Malayan affinities of many of its animals, as well as the physical conditions of the bed of the Indian Ocean, make it highly probable that Madagascar, while once forming part of Africa, is the chief relic of a considerable archipelago formerly connecting that continent with Asia, its other portions being shown by groups of small islands, and by coral atolls and shoals, which are gradually disappearing beneath the waves. These questions have been fully treated by Dr A. R. Wallace in his Geographical Distribution of Animals (vol. i. ch. ix., 1876) and Island Life, ch. xix. `(1880).


The flora of Madagascar is one of great interest. One of its most prominent features is the belt of forest round a large part of the island at no great distance from the sea, and generally following the coast-line. This forest is densest on the east side, and for about 120 m. forms a double line, the lower one being much the broader and averaging 30 m. across, but attaining a breadth of 60 or 70 m. on the north-east, near Antongil Bay. The vegetation on the western side of the island is much less dense, often appearing as scattered clumps of trees on savannah-like plains rather than continuous forest; while in the south-west, where the rainfall is very scanty, the vegetation is largely of fleshy-leaved and spiny plants - aloes and cacti (the latter introduced), with several species of Euphorbia, as well as numerous lianas, one of which (Intisy) yields india-rubber. It is estimated that there are about 30,000 sq. m. of forest-covered country in Madagascar, or about one-eighth of its whole surface. The vegetation of the forests, the abundant epiphytes, the treemosses, the filmy ferns and the viviparous character of many of the ferns, show clearly how abundant the rainfall is in the eastern forest region. This contains a large variety of hard-wooded and valuable timber trees, including species of Weinmannia (Lalona 1), Elaeocarpus (Voanana), Dalbergia (Vbambbana), Nuxia (Valanirana), Podocarpus, a pine, the sole species in the island (Hetatra),Tambourissa (Amhara), Neobaronia (Harah¢ra), Ocotea (Varongy) and probably ebony, Diospyros sp., &c. The following trees are characteristic of Madagascar vegetation, some of them being endemic, and others very prominent features in the landscape: the traveller's-tree (Urania speciosa), with its graceful crown of plantain-like leaves growing like an enormous fan at the top of a tall trunk, and affording a supply of pure cool water, every part of the tree being of some service in building; the Raphia (rofia) palm (Sagus ruffia); the tall fir-like Casuarina equisetifolia or beef wood tree, very prominent on the eastern coast, as well as several species of screw-pine (Pandanus); the Madagascar spice (Ravintsara madagascariensis), a large forest tree, with fragrant fruit, leaves and bark; a beautiful-leaved species of Calophyllum; and the Tangena (Tanghinia veneniflua), formerly employed as a poison ordeal. On the lagoons and lower reaches of the rivers the Viha (Typhonodorum lindleyanum), an arum endemic to Madagascar, grows in great profusion to a height of 12 or 13 ft. and has a white spathe more than a foot in length; and on the western coast dense thickets of mangrove line the creeks and rivers. In the interior rivers is found the curious and beautiful lace-leaf plant (Ouvirandra fenestralis), with an edible tuberous root. On the western side of the island the baobab, the tamarind, the rotra (Eugenia sp.), the rofia palm, and several species of fan-palm (Hyphaene) and of Ficus are prominent; and the mango (introduced) grows to a large tree. In the generally bare interior highlands, large trees, species of Ficus (Amontana, Aviavy, Nonoka, Adabo, &c.), often mark the position of the old towns; and some of these, as Ambohimanga, Vohilena, &c., are surrounded by remnants of the original forest, which formerly covered large portions of the interior. The most prominent tree in the central province is now the Capelilac (Melia azederach) introduced about 1825; and since the French conquest several species of eucalyptus have been planted in vast numbers by the road sides. These have given quite a new aspect to the vegetation, while bright colour is imparted by species of Bougainvillea and Poinsettia. In the eastern forests palms, bamboos, lianas and tree-ferns, as well as species of Dracaena, are found.

Although flowers growing on the ground or on shrubs are not conspicuous for number or beauty, there arc many fine flowering trees, such as Poinciana regia, presenting a mass of scarlet flowers; 1 The words in parentheses are the native Malagasy names.

Colvillia racemosa, with yellow flowers; Astrapaea Wallichii, striking attention from its abundant flowers; and species of Cryptostegia, a purple-flowered creeper, and Strongylodon, another creeper with cream-coloured blossoms. Among attractive plants are species of Hibiscus, Euphorbia, Buddleia, Ixora, Kitchingia, Clematis, &c. On the east coast two orchids, species of Angraecum, with large white waxy flowers, one with an extraordinarily long spur or nectary, attract the attention of every traveller during June and July by their abundance and beauty. Some 320 species of fern have been collected, and there are large numbers of spiny and prickly plants, as well as numerous grasses, reeds and rushes, many of them of great service in the native manufactures of mats, hats, baskets, &c.

The Rev R. Baron divides the flora into three distinctly marked " regions," which run in a longitudinal direction, following approximately the longer axis of the island, and are termed respectively eastern, western and central. The central includes the elevated highland of the interior, while the eastern and western include the forest belts and most of the wooded country and coast plains. Of the 4100 known plants - of which about three-fourths are endemic - composing the Madagascar flora, there are 3492 Dicotyledons, 248 Monocotyledons and 360 Acotyledons. Of these, the orders most largely represented (together with their species) are: Leguminosae, 34 6; Filices, 318; Compositae, 281; Euphorbiaceae, 228; Orchideae, 170; Cyperaceae, 160; Rubiaceae, 1 47; Acanthaceae, 131; Gramineae, 130. The number of endemic genera now known is 148. Of the 3178 species of plants whose localities have been determined, 35% are peculiar to the eastern region, 27.5% to the central, and 22% to the western. One natural order, Chlaenaceae, is strictly confined to Madagascar. " A small proportion of the species are Asian, but not African; and the flora of the mountains corresponds closely with that of the great ranges of the tropical zone of Africa." " The general plan of the flora follows thoroughly the same lines as that of the tropical regions of the Old World." Among the food-giving plants are rice - the staff of life to the majority of the Malagasy - in many varieties, maize, millet, manioc, yams,;sweet-potatoes, arrowroot, which is largely used by the western tribes - as well as numerous vegetables, many of them of foreign introduction. The fruits - the majority of which are introduced - are the banana, peach, loquat, pineapple, .mango, melon, grape, quince, plum, apple, mulberry, orange, lemon, citron, guava, Chineseguava, Cape-gooseberry, fig, raspberry, tomato, &c. Several spices are grown, including ginger, capsicum, &c.; sugar-cane, coffee, indigo, vanilla, tobacco, cotton, hemp, gourds, dye-woods, gums, mulberry and other trees and plants for silk-culture, are also among the vegetable productions; gum-copal was formerly, and india-rubber is still, an important article of export.

Provinces and Towns

The island may be divided into districts or provinces, which in the main indicate tribal divisions. Of these tribal territories the following may be distinguished, taking them in three main divisions, from north to south: (1) Eastern: Antankarana, occupying the northern peninsula; the country of the Betsimisaraka, who inhabit a long extent of the coast plains, about Soo m. in length; parallel with this for about a third of it, and between the two lines of forest, is the Bezanozano country. South again are the districts of the Taimbahoaka, the Taimoro, the Taifasy and the Taisaka; and at the south-eastern corner are the Tanosy. (2) Central: the districts of Tsimihety and the Sihanaka; Imerina, the Hova province; the Betsileo; the Tanala or foresters; the Bara; and the emigrant Tanosy. (3) Western: the people from almost the northern to the southern extremities of the island are known as Sakalava, but consist of a number of distinct tribes - the Tiboina, the Mailaka, the Tamenabe, and the Fiherenana, &c. South of these last are the Mahafaly, with the Tandroy at the extreme south. There are no distinctly marked boundaries between any of these tribal territories; and west of Imerina and Betsileo there is a considerable extent of country with hardly any population, a kind of " no-man'sland." There are numerous subdivisions of most of the tribes.

The capital, Antananarivo (pop. 69,000), in the highlands of Imerina, and Tamatave (pop. 4600), on the east coast and the chief seaport, are separately described. Majunga (properly Mojanga, pop. 5300) on the north-west coast, just north of 16° S., and Diego-Suarez, are important ports for foreign trade, the latter being also a fortified naval and military station. Other ports and towns are Mahanoro, Mananjary (S.E. coast, pop. 4500), Tullear (S.W. coast), and Fianarantsoa (pop. 6200), the chief town of the Betsileo. There are very few places besides these with as many as 2000 people.


The population is somewhat under two and three-quarter millions, 1 including some 10,000 or i 1,000 Europeans, and a smaller number of Indian, Arab, and other Asiatics, mostly small traders found in the seaports, the Chinese being found in every town of any size. The island, it will be seen, is very sparsely inhabited; the most densely peopled province is that of Imerina with (1905) 388,000 inhabitants. The natives, collectively known as Malagasy, are divided into a considerable number of tribes, each having its distinct customs. Although geographically an African island, the majority of its inhabitants are derived, the lighter portion of them from the MalayoPolynesian stock, and the darker races from the Melanesian. This is inferred from their similarity to the peoples of the Indian and Pacific archipelagoes in their physical appearance, mental habits, customs, and, above all, in their language. Their traditions also point in the same direction. There is, however, an undoubted African mixture in the western and some other tribes. There is also an Arab element both on the north-west and south-east coasts; and it appears that most of the families of the ruling classes in all parts of the island are descended from Arabs, who married native women. It is believed that there are traces of an aboriginal people (the Vazimba), who occupied portions of the interior before the advent of the present inhabitants, and these appear to have been a somewhat dwarfish race, and lighter-coloured than the Malagasy generally. The Hova became the dominant tribe from the beginning of the 19th century; they appear to be the latest immigrants, and are the lightest in colour; and they are also the most intelligent and civilized of all the peoples inhabiting the island.

The most striking proof of the virtual unity of the inhabitants of Madagascar is that substantially but one language is spoken over the whole country. The Malay affinities of Malagasy were noted in the 16th century; indeed, the second and fifth books published upon the country (in 1603 and 1613) were comparative vocabularies of these two languages. Later investigations have confirmed the conclusions thus early arrived at; and Van der Tuuk, Marre de Marin and W. E. Cousins have shown conclusively the close relationships between the language of the Malagasy and those of the Malayo-Polynesian regions; similar connexions exist, especially in grammatical construction, between the Malagasy and Melanesian languages. The Malagasy had never invented for themselves a written character, and had consequently no manuscripts, inscriptions or books, until their language was reduced to writing, and its orthography settled by English missionaries. Their speech nevertheless is very full in many of its verbal and other forms, while it also exhibits some curious deficiencies. It is very soft and musical, full of vowels and liquids, and free from all harsh gutturals. Native oratory abounds in figures, metaphors and parables; and a large number of folk-tales, songs and legends, together with the very numerous proverbs, give ample evidence of the mental ability and imaginative powers of the Malagasy.

Native society in Imerina among the Hova was formerly divided into three great classes: the Andriana, or nobles; the Hova, freemen or commoners; and the Andevo, or slaves; but these last became free by a proclamation issued in 1896. The Andriana are, strictly speaking, royal clans, being descendants of petty kings who were conquered or otherwise lost their authority through the increasing power of the ancestors of the reigning family. Their descendants retained certain honours in virtue of their royal origin, such as special terms of salutation, the use of the smaller scarlet umbrella (the larger one was the mark of royal rank), the right to build a particular kind of tomb, &c.; they also enjoyed exemption from certain government service, and from some punishments for crime. The Hova 2 or commoners form the mass of the population of Imerina. They are composed of a large number of tribes, who usually intermarry strictly among themselves, as indeed do families, so that property and land may be kept together. The third great division was the slave population, which since 1896 has become merged in the mass of the people. The 1 The census taken in 1905 gives 2,664,000 as the total population, but it is probably a little over that amount, as some localities are still imperfectly known.

2 This is a special and restricted use of the word, Hova in its widest sense being a tribal name, including all ranks of people in Imerina.

Mozambiques or African slaves, who had been brought from the African coast by Arab dhows, were in 1877 formally set free by an agreement with the British government.

Royalty and chieftainship in Madagascar had many peculiar customs. It had a semi-sacred character; the chief was, in heathen tribes, while living, the high priest for his people, and after death, was worshipped as a god; in its modern development among the Hova sovereigns it gathered round it much state and ceremony. There were many curious examples of the taboo with regard to actions connected with royalty, and also in the words used which relate to Malagasy sovereigns and their surroundings. These were particularly seen in everything having to do with the burial of a monarch. While the foregoing description of native society applied chiefly to the people of the central province of Imerina, it is applicable, with local modifications, to most of the Malagasy tribes. But on the island becoming a French colony, in 1896, royalty was formally abolished; and little regard is paid to native rank by French officials.

The chief employment of the Malagasy is agriculture. In the cultivation of rice they show very great ingenuity, the ketsa grounds, where the rice is sown before transplanting, being formed either on the margins of the streams or in the hollows of the hills in a series of terraces, to which water is often conducted from a considerable distance. In this agricultural engineering no people surpass the Betsileo. No plough is used, all work being done by a long-handled spade; and oxen are only employed to tread out the soft mud preparatory to transplanting. The rice is threshed by being beaten in bundles on stones set upright on the threshing-floor; and when beaten out the grain is stored by the Hova in rice-pits dug in the hard red soil, but by the coast tribes in small timber houses raised on posts. In preparing the rice for use it is pounded in a wooden mortar to remove the husk, this work being almost always done by the women. The manioc root is also largely consumed, together with several other roots and vegetables; but little animal foods (save fish and freshwater Crustacea) is taken by the mass of the people except at festival times. Rice is used less by the western tribes than by those of the central and eastern provinces, and the former people are more nomadic in their habits than are the others. Large herds of fine humped cattle are found almost all over the island.

The central and eastern peoples have considerable manual dexterity. The women spin and weave, and with the rudest appliances manufacture a variety of strong and durable cloths of silk,cotton and hemp, and of rofia palm, aloe and banana fibre, of elegant patterns, and often with much taste in colour. They also make from straw and papyrus peel strong and beautiful mats and baskets in great variety, some of much fineness and delicacy, and also hats resembling those of Panama. The people of the south and south-east make large use of soft rush matting for covering, and they also prepare a rough cloth of bark. Their non-employment of skins for clothing is a marked distinction between the Malagasy and the South African races, and their use of vegetable fibres an equally strong link between them and the Polynesian peoples. The men wear a loincloth or salaka, the women a kitamby or apron folded round the body from waist to heel, to which a jacket or dress is usually added; both sexes use over these the lamba, a large square of cloth folded round the body something like the Roman toga, and which is the characteristic native dress. The Malagasy are skilful in metal-working; with a few rude-looking tools they manufacture silver chains of great fineness, and filagree ornaments both of gold and silver. Their iron-work is of excellent quality, and in copper and brass they can produce copies of anything made by Europeans. They display considerable inventive power, and they are exceedingly quick to adopt new ideas from Europeans.

There is a considerable variety in the houses of the different Malagasy tribes. The majority of Hova houses were formerly built of layers of the hard red soil of the country, with high-pitched roofs thatched with grass or rush; while the chiefs and wealthy people had houses of framed timber, with massive upright planking, and lofty roofs covered with shingles or tiles. But the introduction of sun-dried and burnt bricks, and of roofing tiles in the central provinces has led to the general use of these materials in the building of houses, large numbers of which are made in two storeys and in European fashion. The forest and coast tribes make their dwellings chiefly of wood framing filled in with the leaf-stalks of the traveller's tree, with the leaves themselves forming the roof covering. The houses of the Betsileo and Sakalava are very small and dirty, but those of the coast peoples are more cleanly and roomy. Among the Hova and Betsileo the old villages were always built for security on the summits of lofty hills, around which were dug several deep fosses, one within the other. In other districts the villages and homesteads are enclosed within formidable defences of prickly-pear or thorny mimosa.

Apart from the modern influence of religious teaching, the people are very immoral and untruthful, disregardful of human life and suffering, and cruel in war. Until lately polygamy has been common among all the Malagasy tribes, and divorce effected in an absurdly easy fashion. At the same time the position of woman is much higher in Madagascar than in most heathen countries; and, the fact that for nearly seventy years there were (with a few months' exception) only female sovereigns, helped to give women considerable influence in native society. The southern and western peoples still practise infanticide as regards children born on several unlucky days in each month. This was formerly the general practice all over the island. The old laws among the Hova were very barbarous in their punishments, and death in various cruel forms was inflicted for very trifling offences. Drunkenness is very prevalent in many parts of the island; and it can hardly be said of many of the Malagasy that they are very industrious. But they are courageous and loyal to their chiefs and tribe, and for short periods are capable of much strenuous exertion. They are affectionate and firm in their friendships, kind to their children and their aged and infirm relatives, very respectful to old age, most courteous and polite and very hospitable to strangers. Slavery had a patriarchal and family character, and was seldom exercised in a cruel or oppressive way.

The Malagasy have never had any organized religious system or forms of worship; there are no temples, images or stated seasons of devotion, nor is there a priesthood, properly so-called. Yet they have never been without some distinct recognition of a supreme being, whom they call Andriamdnitra, " The Fragrant One," and Zanahc ry, " The Creator " - words which are recognized all over the island. They have also retained many ancient sayings, proverbial in their style, which enforce many of the truths of natural religion as to the attributes of God. With all this, however, there has long existed a kind of idolatry, which in its origin is simply fetishism - the belief in charms - as having power to procure various benefits and protect from certain evils. Among the Hova in modern times four or five of these charms had acquired special sanctity and were each honoured as a kind of national deity, being called " god," and brought out on all public occasions. Together with this idolatry there is also a firm belief in the power of witchcraft and sorcery, in divination, in lucky and unlucky days and times, in ancestor worship, especially that of the sovereign's predecessors, and in several curious ordeals for the detection of crime. The chief of these was the celebrated tangena poison ordeal, in which there was implicit belief, and by which, until its prohibition by an article in the AngloMalagasy treaty of 1865, thousands of persons perished every year. Sacrifices of fowls and sheep are made at many places at sacred stones and altars, both in thanksgiving at times of harvest, &c., and as propitiatory offerings. Blood and fat are used to anoint many of these stones, as well as the tombs of ancestors, and especially those of the Vazimba. In some of the southern districts it is said that human sacrifices were occasionally offered. The chief festival among the Hova, and almost confined to them, was that of the New Year, at which time a kind of sacrificial killing of oxen took place, and a ceremonial bathing, from which the festival took its name of Fandroana (the Bath). This festival is now merged in the French national fete of the 14th of July. Another great festival was at circumcision times. This rite was observed by royal command at intervals of a few years; these were occasions of great rejoicing, but also of much drunkenness and licentiousness. Since 1868 circumcision has been observed by each family at any time convenient to itself. It is practised by all the Malagasy tribes. Funerals were also times of much feasting, and at the death of people of rank and wealth numbers of bullocks were and are still killed. Although there was no proper priesthood, the idol-keepers, the diviners, the day-declarers and some others formed a class of people closely connected with heathen customs and interested in their continued observance.

Industries and Commerce

The rearing of cattle and the dressing of hides, the collection of rubber and bee culture are important industries. The chief food crops grown have been indicated (see Flora), and the gold-mining is separately noticed below. Other industries undertaken or developed by Europeans are silk and cotton weaving and raphia-fibre preparation, and ostrich farming. Sugar, rice, soap and other factories have been established. In 1904 the exportation of straw and other fibre hats began; these resemble those of Panama and promise to become an important item. Tanning bark, coffee and guano are also recent exports.

Since 1862, when the country was thrown open to foreign trade, the growth of over-sea commerce has been comparatively slow. In the early days cattle were the chief export. About 1870 india-rubber began to be exported in considerable quantities, and cattle, rubber and hides continue staple products. Other important exports are raphia fibre and beeswax. Since 1900 gold has become a leading export, the value of the gold sent out of the country in the five years1901-1906being £ 1 ,3 8 4,493. The imports consist chiefly of tissues (mostly cotton goods), breadstuffs and rice, liquors, metal-ware and coal. Better means of internal transport and increased production in the island have greatly reduced the import of rice, which came mostly from Saigon.

Before the occupation of Madagascar by France the duty on imports and exports was io% ad valorem, and the foreign trade was very largely in the hands of British and American merchants. In July 1897 the French tariff was applied and increased rates levied on foreign goods, notably cottons. This practically killed the American trade and reduced the British trade to a very small proportion. In 1897 the British imports were valued at £179,000; the next year, with the new tariff in force, they had dropped to £42,000. The only export duties are: cattle 2S. per head and rubber 2d. per lb.

In1880-1885the entire foreign trade of Madagascar, imports and exports, was estimated to be about £1,000,coo; in1900-1906the volume of trade had increased to a little over £2,500,000 a year. But while from 1900 onwards imports had a tendency to decrease (they were £1,841,310 in 1901 and £1,247,936 in 1905), exports steadily increased, owing to the working of goldmines. The total value of the exports rose from £359,019 in 1901 to £822,470 in 1906.' About 90% of the trade is with France or other French colonies. The remaining trade is nearly all British and German.

Banking business is in the hands of French companies. The legal currency is the French 5-franc piece and the smaller French coins. There was no native coinage, the French 5-franc piece or dollar being the standard, and all sums under that amount were obtained by cutting up those coins into all shapes and sizes, which were weighed with small weights and scales into halves, quarters, eighths, twelfths and twenty-fourths of a dollar, and even reckoned down to the seven hundred and twentieth fraction of the same amount.


Gold-mining has been carried on regularly since 1897, and by 1900 the value of the ore extracted exceeded £100,000. Reports of rich discoveries attracted considerable attention in South Africa and Europe during 1904-1906, but experts, sent from the Transvaal, came to the conclusion that Madagascar would not become one of the rich goldfields of the world. The chief mining districts have been already indicated (see under Geology). Rich finds were reported from the north of the island during 1907, in which year the export of gold was £320,000. The mines afford a. lucrative occupation for some thousands of persons, and many of the claim-holders are British. Decrees of 1902 and 1905 regulate the conditions under which mining is carried on. By decree of the 23rd of May 1907, the radius of the circle within which claims may be pegged is 2 kilometres (14 m.), and a tax of 5% is levied on the value of the gold extracted.


There is regular steamship communication between the chief ports and Marseilles, Zanzibar and India (via Mauritius and Ceylon); and a submarine cable to Mozambique places the island in telegraphic connexion with the rest of the world. The French have built carriage roads from the interior to the principal ports as well as to connect the principal towns. On these roads large use is made of bullock wagons, as well as carts drawn by men, and women also. Tamatave and Antananarivo are joined by coast canals and lakes and by a railway service. Where other means are not available, goods are carried by canoes, or on the shoulders of bearers along the native footpaths.

There is a well-organized postal service, and all the towns of note are linked by a telegraph system, which has a length of over 4000 miles.

1 Exports:




Rubber. .




Hides and skins. .




Gold. .. .




Government, Revenue, &c. - The colony is not represented in the French Chambers, nor has it self-government. At the head of the administration is a governor-general, who is assisted by a nominated council of administration which includes unofficial members. This council must be consulted on matters affecting the budget. In several towns there are chambres consullatives, composed of local merchants and planters. The island is divided into circles, placed under military officers, and provinces, presided over by a civilian. As far as possible in local affairs, each of the native races is granted autonomy, the dominion of the Hova over the other tribes being abolished. Each province has its native governor and minor officials, the governor being generally selected by popular vote. Each village has an organization (the Fokon' Nona) resembling that of a commune; at its head is a chief or mpiadidy, who serves for three years.

For Europeans and in suits between Europeans and natives the French judicial code is applicable; suits between natives are tried by native tribunals (established 1898) presided over by a European assisted by two native assessors. These tribunals judge according to native law and usages, except when such customs (e.g. polygamy and slavery) have been expressly abolished. Arbitration councils are available everywhere for the settlement of disputes between native workmen and their employers. The native laws respecting land tenure have been improved by the adoption of a method of registration based on the Torrens system.

Revenue is derived from land, house and capitation taxes, from customs, posts and telegraphs, ferries, licences and other indirect imposts. The excess of expenditure over revenue is made good by subventions from France. A considerable portion of the revenue is expended on public works. Revenue and expenditure in 1905 were each just beneath £1,000,000. This is exclusive of the sums spent by France in the island on the army, and for the naval base at Diego-Suarez. There is a public debt amounting (1907) to 4, 0 55, 600. As stated in the French senate (February 1909), everything is taxed in the island; and no sooner has any enterprise become fairly successful than it is so heavily taxed as to be no longer worth carrying on, and certain crops have therefore been destroyed by the colonists who had planted them. This has been the case with tobacco, sugar, rum, and also in butter-making, cattle-breeding and other things. Notwithstanding this taxation, from 1895 to 1908 {12,000,000 was required for Madagascar from the home government, and the demand is constantly increasing.


From the earliest accounts given of the people of Madagascar by European travellers, as well as from what may be inferred from their present condition, they seem for many centuries to have been divided into a number of tribes, often separated from one another by a wide extent of uninhabited country. Each of these was under its own chief, and was often at war with its neighbours. No one tribe seems to have gained any great ascendancy over the rest until about the middle of the 17th century, when a small but warlike people called Sakalava, in the south-west of Madagascar, advanced northward, conquered all the inhabitants of the western half of the island, as well as some northern and central tribes, and eventually founded two kingdoms which retained their supremacy until the close of the 18th century. About that time, the Hova in the central province of Imerina began to assert their own position under two warlike and energetic chieftains, Andrianimpoina and his son Radama; they threw off the Sakalava authority, and after several wars obtained a nominal allegiance from them; they also conquered the surrounding tribes, and so made themselves virtual kings of Madagascar. From that time until 1895 Hova authority was retained over a large part of the central and eastern provinces, but it was only nominal over much of the western side of the island, while in the south-west the people were quite independent and governed by their own chiefs.

While European intercourse with Madagascar is comparatively recent, the connexion of the Arabs with the island dates from a Arab very remote epoch; and in very early times settle- Intercourse ments were formed both on the north-west and south and east coasts. In the latter locality there are still Influence. traces of their influence in the knowledge of Arabic possessed by a few of the people. But in these provinces they have become merged in the general mass of the people. It is different, however, in the north-west and west of the island. Here are several large Arab, colonies, occupying the ports of Anorontsanga, Mojanga, Marovoay and Morondava, and retaining their distinct nationality. There is also in these districts a Hindu element in the population, for intercourse has also been maintained for some centuries between India and northern Madagascar, and in some towns the Banyan Indian element is as prominent as the Arab element. In the early times of their intercourse with Madagascar, the Arabs had a very powerful influence upon the Malagasy. This is seen in the number of words derived from the Arabic in the native language. Among these are the names of the months and the days of the week, those used in astrology and divination, some forms of salutation, words for dress and bedding, money, musical instruments, books and writings, together with a number of miscellaneous terms.

The island is mentioned by several of the early Arabic writers and geographers, but medieval maps show curious ignorance of its size and position. Marco Polo has a chapter upon « „ it, and terms it Madagascar, but his accounts are confused with those of the mainland of Africa. The first European voyager who saw Madagascar was a Portuguese named Diogo Diaz, captain of one of the ships of a fleet commanded by Pedro Cabral and bound for India. Separated from his companions by a storm near the Cape, he sighted the eastern coast of the island on the 10th of August 1 Soo. That day being the feast of St Lawrence, Madagascar was named the " Isle of St Lawrence," and retained that name on all maps and charts for a hundred years. The Portuguese gave names to most of the capes, but made no persistent attempts at colonization. After them the Dutch endeavoured, but with little success, to form colonies; and in the time of Charles I. proposals were made to form an English " plantation," but these were never carried into effect, although for a short time there was a settlement formed on the south-west coast. In the latter part of the 17th and during most of the 18th century the French attempted to establish military positions on the east coast. For some time they held the extreme south-east point of the island at Fort Dauphin; but several of their commandants were so incapable and tyrannical that they were frequently involved in war with the people, and more than once their stations were destroyed and the French were massacred. Early in the 19th century all their positions on the mainland were relinquished, and they retained nothing but the island of Ste Marie on the east coast. In 1811 Tamatave had been occupied by British troops, and the Treaty of Paris of 1814 recognized as British the " French settlements in Madagascar," but as a matter of fact France had then no settlements on the mainland. The then governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Farquhar, endeavoured to prosecute British claims and obtained a cession of Diego-Suarez Bay. These claims were not backed up by the home government, and a little later the policy was adopted by Great Britain of supporting the Hova authority. The political history of Madagascar as a whole may be said to date from the reign of Radama I. (1810-1828). He was a man much in advance of his age - shrewd, enterprising, and undeterred by difficulty - a kind of Peter the Great of his time. He saw that it was necessary for his people to be educated and civilized if the country was to progress; and making a treaty with the governor of Mauritius to abolish the export of slaves, he received every year in compensation a subsidy of arms, ammunition, and uniforms, as well as English training for his troops. He was thus enabled to establish his authority over a large portion of the island. For some years a British agent, Mr Hastie, resided at Radama's court, and exercised a powerful influence over the king, doing much for the material advance of the country. At the same period (1820) Christian Introduc- teaching was commenced in the capital by the London Missionary Society, and by its missionaries Chris- the language was reduced to a systematic written tianity. form, and the art of printing introduced; books were prepared, the Scriptures were translated, numerous schools were formed, and several Christian congregations were gathered together. The knowledge of many of the useful arts was also imparted, and many valuable natural productions were discovered. The power of superstition was greatly broken, a result partly due to the keen good sense of the king, but chiefly to the spread of knowledge and religious teaching.

The bright prospects thus opening up were clouded by the death of Radama at the age of thirty-six, and the seizure of the royal authority by one of his wives, the Princess Ranavalona. She looked with much suspicion upon 1 R P P the ideas then gaining power among many of her people, and determined to strike a decisive blow at the new teaching. In 1835 the profession of the Christian religion was declared illegal; all worship was to cease, and all religious books were ordered to be given up. By the middle of 1836 all the English missionaries were obliged to leave the island, and for twenty.-five years the most strenuous efforts were made by the queen and her government to suppress all opposition to her commands. This, however, only served to show in a very remarkable manner the courage and faith of the Christian Malagasy, of whom about two hundred suffered death in various cruel forms, while many hundreds were punished more or less severely by fine, degradation, imprisonment and slavery. During the queen's reign the political condition of the country was deplorable; there were frequent rebellions, many of the distant provinces were desolated by barbarous wars; and for some years all Europeans were excluded, and foreign commerce almost ceased. This last circumstance was partly owing to an ill-managed attack upon Tamatave in 1846 by a combined British and French force, made to redress the wrongs inflicted upon the foreign traders of that port. But for the leaven of Christianity and education which had been introduced into the country it would have reverted to a state of barbarism.

This reign of terror was brought to a close in 1861 by the death of the queen and the accession of her son Radama II. The Radama II. island was reopened to European trade, and mis sionary efforts were recommenced. A determined attempt was made by some Frenchmen to gain for their country an overwhelming influence by means of a treaty which they induced the king to sign. But this act, as well as the vices and insane follies into which he was led by worthless foreign and native favourites, soon brought his reign and his life to an end. He was put to death in his palace (1863) and his wife was placed on the throne. The new sovereign and her government refused to ratify the agreement which had been illegally obtained, choosing rather to pay a million francs as compensation to the French company. During the five years' reign of Queen Rasoherina, quiet and steady advances were made in civilization and education, and treaties were concluded with the British, French and American governments.

At the death of Rasoherina in 1868, she was succeeded by her cousin, Ranavalona II. One of the first acts of the new queen was the public recognition of Christianity; and very 1/. minister, were baptized, and the erection of a chapel royal was commenced in the palace yard. These acts were followed in the succeeding year by the burning of the royal idols, and immediately afterwards by the destruction of the idols throughout the central provinces, the people generally putting themselves under Christian instruction. From that time education and enlightenment made great progress, chiefly through the labours of missionaries of various societies.

The native Malagasy government, though theoretically despotic, was limited in various ways. Radama I. and Rana- Native valona I. were much more absolute sovereigns than Govern- those before or after them, but even they were meat. largely restrained by public opinion. New laws were announced at large assemblies of the people, whose consent was asked, and always given through the headmen of the different divisions of native society; this custom was no doubt a survival from a time when the popular assent was not a merely formal act. The large disciplined army formed by Radama I. aided much in changing what was formerly a somewhat limited monarchy into an absolute one. The Hova queen's authority was maintained over the central and eastern portions of Madagascar, and at almost all the ports, by governors appointed by the queen, and supported by small garrisons of Hova troops. At the same time the chiefs of the various tribes were left in possession of a good deal of their former honours and influence. Ranavalona II., her predecessor and her successor were successively married to the prime minister, Rainilaiarivony, a man of great ability and sagacity, who, by his position as husband and chief adviser of the sovereign, became virtual ruler of the country. Chiefly owing to his influence, many measures tending to improve the administration were introduced. The Hova army was estimated at from 30,000 to 40,000 men, several English non-commissioned officers and, latterly, others of higher rank being engaged to train them in European methods. Revenue was derived from customs duties, firstfruits, fines and confiscation of offenders' property, and a money offering called hdsind, presented on a great variety of occasions both to the sovereign in person and to her representatives; and these were supplemented by " benevolences " (in the medieval sense of the word) levied upon the people for occasional state necessities. The government also claimed the unpaid service of all classes of the community for every kind of public work.

The Hova government aspired to have Madagascar recognized as an independent civilized state, and consuls appointed by the British, French and American governments were accredited to the Malagasy sovereign, the queen RelaForetionns. having a consul in England, and a consular agent at Mauritius. The treaty with Great Britain, concluded in 1865, gave the consuls of that nation jurisdiction over the British subjects in the island. At this period, on the initiative of the 4th earl of Clarendon, then foreign secretary, an understanding was come to between the British and French governments by which it was agreed that each power should respect the independence of Madagascar; and the future of the country appeared to be bound up in the gradual consolidation of the central Hova authority over the whole island. While this prospect would have satisfied the British interests in the island, it was otherwise with the French. The tradition of their former settlements in and influence over the island was strong; in 1840 they had taken under their protection the Sakalava ruler of the small island of Nossi-be, off the north-west coast, and in virtue of that act claimed a vague protectorate over the adjacent shores of the mainland. A treaty, concluded in 1868, while establishing French consular jurisdiction in Madagascar, recognized Ranavalona II. as queen of Madagascar, and under the Second Empire attempts to establish French political influence were discouraged, and even as late as 1872 the subsidy enjoyed by the Jesuit missionaries was withdrawn. In 1878 the French consul, Laborde, died, and a dispute arose as to the disposal of his property. This dispute was the occasion of further intervention on the part of the French, for the Paris government supported the claims of Laborde's heirs, and revived their claim to a protectorate over the Sakalava of the north-west coast, as based on their agreement with them in 1840, ceding Nossi-be to France. A policy of colonial expansion generally, and in Africa in particular at this time, was manifest in France, as in other European countries, and the French claims on the Hova were pressed with vigour.

Towards the middle of 1882 the relations between the native government and that of France became much strained, and to settle, if possible, these causes of dispute, two Franco- Hova officers of high rank were sent to France as Malagasy ambassadors, but as they were not authorized to war 1883-850f. concede any territory, their visit accomplished very little. Treaties had been concluded with Great Britain, Germany and America, giving improved facilities for trade with Madagascar, but before the return of the envoys matters had come to a crisis in the island. In May 1883 an ultimatum was sent to the Malagasy queen, requiring immediate compliance with the demands of France; and as these were refused by the Hova government, Tamatave was bombarded by a French squadron and then occupied by the marines. The war continued in a desultory fashion for many months; but no serious attempt was made to invade the interior; and in 1885 terms of peace were agreed to. By a treaty signed on the 17th of December it was agreed that the foreign relations of Madagascar should be directed by France; that a resident should live at the capital, with a small guard of French soldiers; and that the Bay, of Diego-Suarez, together with surrounding territory, should be ceded to France. The word " protectorate " was carefully excluded from the treaty, although doubtless the French envoys intended that this should be its practical issue. It was at the same time agreed that there should be no foreign interference with the internal government of the country, and that the queen should retain her former position, with all its honours and dignity. It should be here noticed that the queen, Ranavalona II., died just at the beginning of the war, on the Ranavalona soon afterwards she and her husband, the prime 13th of July 1883, and was succeeded by her niece, Princess Razafindrahety, under the title of Ranavalona III., who maintained the same policy as her predecessor, and was much beloved French Pro-by her people and respected by all. Several French tectorate, residents successively represented France at Antana- 1885-4894. narivo; but these found themselves unable to obtain that influence which the home authorities thought they had a right to demand. Although the British government, in return for concessions in Zanzibar, had consented, in 1890, to recognize a French protectorate over Madagascar, the Malagasy prime minister, Rainilaiarivony, was not disposed to give any advantage to France and continued to arm and train, by the help of British officers, a large body of native soldiers. This state of tension and irritation could not last, and at length, towards the close of 1894, the French government sent an ultimatum to the Malagasy sovereign, demanding such powers as would have made French authority supreme in the island. These demands were refused by the native government, and other conditions were offered; but the French envoy, together French In- with the resident's escort, left the capital, as also did vasion and the French traders and others, including the large Conquest, Jesuit mission. As soon as these had left the island, 1895' the chief ports were occupied by French troops, and an expeditionary force under General Duchesne was afterwards landed on the north-west coast at Mojanga - commonly, but incorrectly, written Majunga - with the object of breaking the Hova authority. Owing to the necessity of making a road for the passage of artillery and military stores, many months were spent on the march into the interior, and there was considerable loss of life by fever and other disease among the invading troops. But no effectual resistance was made by the Malagasy, and at length, on the 30th of September 1895, the French forces appeared on the heights north and east of Antananarivo, bombarded the city, which surrendered in the afternoon, and on the evening of the same day the French entered the capital.

The result was that the protectorate of France was re-established in the central provinces, but the queen was allowed to retain her position. Early in 1896, however, a serious Rebellion of rebellion broke out in several parts of Imerina. This /89G, and p Gradual movement was not only anti-French and anti-foreign, Subjection but also distinctly anti-Christian. The French troops of th a, gradually broke up the power of the rebellion in the Maiagasy.

central provinces, but as there appeared to be considerable unrest in many other parts of the island, General Gallieni, an officer with a reputation for vigour and ability in the Sudan and Tongking campaigns, was sent out to relieve the then resident-general.

General Gallieni had a difficult task in establishing the authority of France throughout the island among numbers of tribes Adminis- who had never submitted to any control from others. tration of Among the first steps he took were to put the country General under martial law, to abolish royalty and all semblance Gallieni. of Hova government, and to declare Madagascar to be henceforth a colony of France. Queen Ranavalona III. was exiled to Reunion, and subsequently to Algeria. Meanwhile carriage roads were commenced to connect all the chief centres, and the military posts were gradually extended so as to consolidate French rule over all the outlying tribes. French residents and numerous other officials were placed at every important town, and various projects were started for the civilization of the Malagasy in accordance with French ideas. At the close of 1899, General Gallieni was able to report that only portions of the west and south-west remained to be brought into submission. Not long afterwards the authority of France was recognized throughout the island. General Gallieni, whose firm and vigorous administration, and desire to treat the Malagasy justly and kindly, made him liked by the people, retired in 1905, and was succeeded in that office by M. Victor Augagneur, late mayor of Lyons. Since the French occupation the Malagasy have conformed pretty readily to the new order of things, although many of the most intelligent Hova deeply regret that their country did not retain its independence. Justice is administered, on the whole, with fairness and impartiality; but the taxation seems too heavy for the means of the people, indeed it is affirmed by trustworthy natives that the well-to-do classes are being gradually drained of their property. To an outsider it also appears that the staff of officials is very largely in excess of any real needs of administration; several monopolies, which interfere with the habits of the people, tend to produce discontent; and the taking of their land and houses for public works, roads, &c., while but a mere fraction of their real value is allowed as compensation, does not help to increase their acquiescence in foreign control. But the most serious cause for dislike to government action was the interference by the governor-general, in 1907, with their religious customs, by the suppression of hundreds of their congregational schools, and the closing of numbers of their churches. In July 1910 M. Augagneur was replaced as governor-general by N. Picquie, a prominent official of the Colonial Department, who had previously served with acceptance as deputy governorgeneral of French Indo-China, and who had a reputation for tact and impartiality.











Lond. Miss. Soc.






Soc. Prop. Gospel




4, 0 94


Norweg. Luth.






Am. Luth.






Soc. of Friends






French Prot. Miss.






Christian Missions and Education

As already noticed, the Malagasy owe to missionaries of the London Missionary Society their first school system and their first literature, in 1820 and subsequent years; 1 and for fifteen years all educational work was carried on by them, some 10,000 to 12,000 children having been instructed in their schools. On the reopening of the country to Europeans in 1862, the L.M.S. mission was resumed and was carried on with vigour for several years, stations being formed in several. parts of Imerina, in the Betsileo and Antsihanaka provinces, and at the ports of Tamatave, Majunga and Farafangana (south-east coast). In 1890 the number of their churches was 1220; adherents, 248,000; and scholars, 68,000; so that for long the greater part of the educational work was in their hands, carried on not only in primary schools, but also in high schools and colleges. In 1863 the Church of England began work in the island through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Church Missionary Society. After some time, however, the latter society withdrew, leaving the field to the S.P.G. A bishop is stationed in the capital, with a theological college in its neighbourhood, but the chief work of the Anglican mission is on the east coast. In 1866 the Norwegian Lutheran Society began work in Madagascar, and was joined in 1888 by an American Lutheran Society. With a representative church at the capital, the chief work of these missions is in the Vakinankaratra district (south-west of Imerina), in the Betsileo province, and on the south-east and south-west coasts; in these places they have a large number of converts and (until lately) schools. In 1867 a mission was begun by the Society of Friends, who gave great attention to education and literary work, and afterwards took up as their field of labour the western and south-western parts of Imerina, where they have a large and well-organized mission. Immediately after the island became a French possession the French Protestant Churches began (in 1896) to take part in the evangelizing of their new colony, and about half the area for long occupied by the London Missionary Society was transferred to the Paris Society. The bulk of the Malagasy Christians are Protestants, probably three-fourths or four-fifths of those professing Christianity. A Roman Catholic (Jesuit) mission was begun in 1861, and a large force of priests with a bishop and lay brethren and sisters engaged in education, have been at work in the island since then, except during the two FrancoMalagasy wars.' Since the French conquest, the north of the island has been occupied by a mission of priests of the Saint Esprit, and the southern portion by the Lazarist mission, each with a bishop at its head. The following table gives the statistics of the various Protestant missions at the close of 1906: - 1 It is true that 200 years earlier than this, persistent efforts were made for nineteen years (1600-1619) by Portuguese Roman Catholic missionaries to propagate their faith among the south-east coast tribes. But although much zeal and self-denial were shown by these men, their efforts were abortive, and the mission was at length abandoned, leaving no fruit of their labours in a single church or convert. Half a dozen small books of devotion are all that remain. to show their presence in Madagascar.

2 The work of the " Freres chretiens " was, however, almost broken up by the anti-clerical policy of the French government.

Since 1897 high schools, and medical and technical schools, and a few primary schools, have been formed by the French government; and all other schools have been placed under regulations issued by an educational department, the scholars being required to learn the French language; but until the end of 1906 the bulk of the educational work was carried on by the various missions. At that date the anti-clerical movement in France began to affect Madagascar. In all the missions the churches had, in the vast majority of cases, been used as school-houses, but in November 1906 it was strictly forbidden to use churches for educational purposes after two months from that date; and the effect of the decree, with other provisions, was to close hundreds of schools, probably three-fourths of the whole number.

For many years (1862-1896), all medical aid to the sick, the formation of hospitals and dispensaries, the training of native doctors, midwives and nurses, and the production of medical literature was entirely due to the Protestant missionaries, viz. the LondonMissionary Society, the Friends and the Norwegians. Numbers of young men received a full course of medical and surgical training, and were awarded diplomas after passing strict examinations. This work is now mostly in charge of a government department, and mission medical work is much restricted; but for thirty-five years the Malagasy owed all such help to the benevolence of European Christians. Besides care for the sick in ordinary diseases, asylums for lepers were for many years carried on; two by the London Missionary Society, one, a large one, with 800 or 900 inmates, by the Norwegian Society, and another by the Roman Catholic mission. This last, with one of those of the L.M.S., is now taken over by the government.

Authorities.-As regards the scientific aspects of the country, almost everything of value in previous books and papers is included in the magnificent work (1882 et seq.), in 28 4to vols., by Alfred Grandidier, entitled Histoire naturelle, physique, et politique de Madagascar. Many of the volumes consist of coloured lithograph plates illustrating the natural history of the country, as well as atlases of maps from the earliest period.

General: Etienne de Flacourt, Histoire de la grande isle Madagascar (Paris, 1658); Madagascar, or Robert Drury's Journal during Fifteen Years' Captivity on that Island (London, 1729; new ed., 1890); Voyages et memoires de Maurice Auguste, Comte de Benyowski (Paris, 1791); Froberville, Histoire de Madagascar (Isle de France, 1809); Ellis, History of Madagascar (London, 1838); Guillain, Documents sur. .. la partie occidentale de Madagascar (Paris, 1845); Mace Descartes, Histoire et geographie de Madagascar (Paris, 1846); Ellis, Three Visits to Madagascar (London, 1859); J. Sibree, Madagascar and its People (London, 1870); Tantara ny Andriana eto Madagascar: Histoire des rois d'Imerina d'apres les manuscrits malgaches, (Antananarivo, 1875); Mullens, Twelve Months in Madagascar (London, 1875); Blanchard, L' Ile de Madagascar (Paris, 18 75); Dahle, Madagaskar og dets Beboere (Christiania, 1876-1878); Sibree and Baron (eds.), The Antananarivo Annual, Nos. i - xxiv. (18 751900, pp. 3115); Notes, reconnaissances, et explorations, revue mensuelle (Antananarivo, 5 vols., 18 9718 99, pp. 3041); Sibree, A Madagascar Bibliography (Antananarivo, 1885); Vaissibre, Histoire de Madagascar (Paris, 1884), Vingt ans a Madagascar (Paris, 1885); Oliver, Madagascar: an Historical and Descriptive Account (2 vols., London, 1886); Cousins, Madagascar of To-day (London, 18 95); Bulletin du comite de Madagascar (monthly) (Paris, 1895, et seq.); Sibree, Madagascar before the Conquest (London, 1896); Catat, Voyage a Madagascar (Paris, 1895); Annuaire de Madagascar (Antananarivo, 1898, et seq.); J. S. Gallieni, Rapport d'ensemble sur la situation generale de Madagascar (2 vols., Paris, 1899); Revue de Madagascar, mensuelle, illustree (1895, et seq.); Guide de ?immigrant a Madagascar (3 vols., with atlas, Paris, 1899); Collection des anciens ouvrages relatifs a Madagascar, par les soins du comite de Madagascar (a collection and translation of all works relating to the island from 1500 to 1800, in To vols.), (Paris, 1899 et seq.); Bulletin trimestriel de l'academie de Malgache (quarterly) (Antananarivo, 1902 et seq.); G. Grandidier et autres, Madagascar au debut du e siecle (Paris, 1902); G. Grandidier, Bibliographie de Madagascar (2 vols., Paris, 1905 and 1907).

Political: Sibree, " What are ` French Claims ' on Madagascar?" Madagascar Tracts (1882); Oliver, True Story of the French Dispute in Madagascar (London, 1885); Shaw, Madagascar and France (London, 1885); Saillens, Nos droits sur Madagascar (Paris, 1885); K. Blind " The Fictitious French Claim to Madagascar," Contemp. Rev. (1894); Martineau, Etude de politique contemporaine. Madagascar (Paris, 1894); Rentier, Les droits de la France sur Madagascar (1895) Corlay, Notre campagne a Madagascar(Paris, 1896); Knight,Madagas- car in Wa'-time (London, 1896); Carol, Chez les Hovas (Paris, 1898); Gallieni, Neuf ans a Madagascar (Paris, 1908).

Philology: Houtman, Spraak ende woord boek in de Maleische ende Madagaskarsche talen (Amsterdam, 1603) Voyage de C. van Heemskerk; vocabulaire de la langue parlee dans l'Ile Saint-Laurent (Amsterdam, 1603) Megiser, Beschreibung der Mechtigen and Weitberhitmbten Insul Madagascar, with dictionary and dialogues (Altenburg, 1609); Arthus, Colloquia latino-maleyica et madagascarica (Frankfort, 1613); Challand, Vocabulaire francais-malgache et malgache-francais (Ile de France, 1773); Froberville, Dictionnaire frangais-madecasse (3 vols., Ile de France, 1809); Freeman and Johns, Dictionary of the Malagasy Language (Eng.-Mal. and Mal.-Eng.), (Antananarivo, i 835); Daimon d, Vocabulaire et grammaire pour les langues malgaches, Sakalava et Betsimisara (Bourbon, 1842); R. C. Missionaries' Dictionnaire frangais-malgache (Reunion, 1853); and Dictionnaire malgache- f rancais (Reunion, 1855); Van der Tunk, " Outlines of a Grammar of the Malagasy Language," Jour. Roy. Asiat. Soc. (1860); Ailloud, Grammaire malgache-hbva (Antananarivo, 1872); W. E. Cousins, Concise Introduction to the Study of the Malagasy Language as spoken in Imerina (Antananarivo, 1873); Marre de Marin, Grammaire malgache (Paris, 1876); id., Essai sur le malgache, ou Etude comparee des langues javanaise, malgache, et malayse (Paris, 1876); id., Le Jardin des racines oceaniennes (Paris, 1876); Dahle, Specimens of Malagasy Folk-lore (Antananarivo, 1877); and W. E. Cousins, " The Malagasy Language," in Trans. Phil. Soc. (1878). Besides these there are several valuable papers by Dahle in the yearly numbers of The Antananarivo Annual (ante) (1876-1877); Richardson, A New Malagasy-English Dictionary (Antananarivo, 1885); Cousins and Parrett, Malagasy Proverbs (Antananarivo, 1885); Causseque, Grammaire malgache (Antananarivo, 1886); Abinal et 1Vlalzac, Dictionnaire malgache frangais (Antananarivo, 1889); Brandstetter, " Die Beziehungen des Malagasy zum Malaiischen," Malaio-polynesische Forschungen, pt. 2 (Lucerne, 1893).

Missions and Religious History: Freeman and Johns, Narrative of the Persecutions of the Christians in Madagascar (London, 1840); Prout, Madagascar, its Missions and its Martyrs (London, 1863); Ellis, Madagascar Revisited (London, 1867); id., The Martyr Church (London, 1869); " Religion in Madagascar," Ch. Quar. Rev. (1878); Briggs, The Madagascar Mission (L.M.S. 1879); id., Ten Years' Review of Mission Work in Madagascar (L.M.S. 1870-1880, 1881); Johnson, Review of Work of the Friends' Foreign Mission Association in Madagascar,1867-1880(Antananarivo, 1880); Vaissiere, Histoire de Madagascar, ses habitants et ses missionaires (Paris, 1884); The Church in Madagascar (S.P.G., 15 years' progress, 1874-1889, 1889); La Liberte religieuse a Madagascar (Paris, 1897); Matthews, Thirty Years in Madagascar (London, 1904); Sibree, The L.M.S. Mission in Madagascar (L.M.S. Mission Hand Books, London, 1907); id., " Christian Missions in Madagascar and French Colonial Policy," The East and the West (Jan. 1909); and General Gallieni's " Neuf ans a Madagascar, Journal of the African Society (April 1909). (J. Si.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Middle French Madagascar, of uncertain origin.


  • (UK) IPA: /madəˈɡaskə/

Proper noun




  1. A country and island of the west coast of Africa with capital Antananarivo. Official name: Republic of Madagascar.

Derived terms


See also


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Madagascar m.

  1. Madagascar

Related terms

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

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Box artwork for Madagascar.
Developer(s) Activision
Toys for Bob
Release date(s)
Nintendo DS
Genre(s) Action
System(s) PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Windows, GameCube, Xbox
PEGI: Ages 3+

Madagascar is a game for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, GameCube, Xbox and Windows, where the four main characters are lost on the island of Madagascar, Africa. Your goal is to get them back to New York. On arrival of the island you will befriend some lemurs who you must also help by getting rid of their enemy, the foosa, who often attack the lumurs.

In some of the levels you must play a fixed character, whereas in others you can switch between them by using a totem pole.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  • Controls
  1. King of New York
  2. Marty's Escape
  3. New York Street Chase
  4. Penguin Mutany
  • Minigames
  • Characters

Simple English

For the movie, please see Madagascar (movie).

[[File:|right|]] Madagascar is a large island nation in the Indian Ocean, off of the east coast of Africa. Seventeen million people live there; its capital is Antananarivo. It is the world's fourth largest island.[1]

The official languages are Malagasy and French.

Geologists think that about two million years ago, Madagascar was a part of a big landmass that included what is now the continent of Africa, but it broke off. Madagascar would later break off of the Indian subcontinent.[2]



Madagascar is home to many species that were not known about until around 1679 when Dutch explorers went there. They do not even exist in Africa. They only exist in Madagascar. In fact, most of the mammals living in Madagascar do not live anywhere else.[3] However, many of the species in Madagascar are in danger because many of the forests have been cut down.[4] A big reason that forests have been cut down is so that land can be used to grow crops such as coffee, which is one of the most important crops that is grown in Madagascar.


Agriculture is a big part of the economy in Madagascar, including the growing of coffee and vanilla. Madagascar sells more vanilla than any other country in the world.[5] Madagascar also makes money from tourism.[6]


People have probably lived in Madagascar for at least 2000 years.[7]

France took over the city of Antananarivo in 1895, and added Madagascar as a colony two years later.[8] Madagascar became independent from France, which meant it became its own country, on 26 June, 1960. On March 17, 2009, President Marc Ravalomanana quit because of pressure from the military, and the next president became Andry Raejolina.[9]


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