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State

Capital

Madagascar

Antananarivo

Madagaskari

Tananarive

Currency unit

Malagasy franc

Connections

Austronesia

Diversity

East Africa

Francophonie

Oceanic

Population

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Although Madagascar is near Africa (and broke off from it according to the theory of Plate Tectonics) the language and culture of the people shows signs of coming from South Borneo. The people are a mixture genetically.

Historically the Malagasy people form part of the dispersion 2000 years ago from Indonesia. One group went west to Madagascar and Africa and some are believed to have reached at least as far as Nigeria by sailing round the coast (evidence from musical styles, and possibly the presence of rice in west Africa); others east and south to Polynesia, New Zealand and the Philippines. They brought bananas and other east Asian crops with them which transformed the economies of Africa, especially in Uganda.

But there are also descendants of people from Africa about 1000 years ago, and speakers of languages close to Swahili can be found as well as Arabs. Some people from India and Sri Lanka may have settled there too. The Malagasy languages contain vocabulary from African languages and Arabic as well as the Austronesian basic structure.

European contact began from the 17th century. Mainly French traders and pirates occupied some of the coast. In the interior the Merino tribe, assisted by the new weapons the traders brought, formed an empire over the rest of the island and were recognised as a kingdom.

In the early 19th century the British as part of their anti-slavery policy made a treaty with the Merino kingdom to end the slave trade and open up "normal" trade. The kingdom was then under the influence of British missionaries. However, French was still the main European language. The kings (and the Queen Ranavalona 1828-1861) imitated the style of Napoleon.

At the carve up of Africa the British agreed the French should take it. In return, the British were confirmed in their occupation of Zanzibar. It was a French colony from 1885 when the French overthrew the main local kingdom, of the Merino people.

After the fall of France to the Germans in 1940 Madagascar was ruled by the puppet French government based in Vichy, until it was occupied by the British to prevent any attempt by the Japanese to occupy it. It was then given to the Free French. However the local people were emboldened to resist French rulers. The result was a nasty colonial war against the French in 1946.

De Gaulle gave all the French colonies autonomy in 1958 and full independence from 1960.

At first it was known as the Malagasy Republic (Republique Malgache). In 1990 the military regime changed the name back to Madagascar.

Languages

Languages of the Malayo- Polynesian group

Colonial language French

 History

 Economics

 Green

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Politics

Discussions going on about converting from the previous one-party military government to a multi-party system, were accompanied by mass non-violent demonstrations to press the point. President Ratsiraka at first refused to resign. However, a national conference drew up a new constitution and a multi-party system replaced the Marxist regime.

Elections at the end of 1992 resulted in a change of government. Prime Minister and President dispute priority.

Elections in 2002 also resulted in disputed victory. The opposition candidate, Marc Ravalomanana, claimed victory and had himself sworn as President without the incumbent conceding. There resulted some of the signs of a possible civil war as Ratsiraka the former president made his 'capital' at Tamatave and claimed still to be the president, while trying to blockade the new president in the national capital.

Ratsirake left for Paris in mid June 2002. This ended the dispute.

The new government at first seemed to be efficient and honest but turned out by 2009 to be dictatorial, and provoked a popular uprising.

In March 2009 an opposition leader Andy Rajoelina overthrew the elected leader and promised new elections. The government at present is considered to be Military.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Famine from drought in 1992.

The economy suffered from the application of Marxist policies. The new regime is trying to liberalize it.

Oil has been found offshore but there is no production yet (Feb 2006)

One reason for the fall of the last president was his signing an agreement with South Korea to sign over a large part of the country to grow food exclusively for Korea - a sign of the fear of some rich Asian countries of a foreseeable future famine. The new president has cancelled the agreement.

 History

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Green/Ecology

The Island is noted for its unique fauna and flora, much damaged in recent years by forest burning.

Because the island split off from Africa 100 million years ago, when mammals were at an earlier stage of evolution than today, they have diverged from the African fauna. Thus the characteristic animal of the island is the Lemur which is represented by many species. Many African species such as monkeys are not found there.

As with many island ecologies the presence of humans is causing many of the unique species to become extinct. Was the extinct Elephant Bird the origin of the Giant Roc of the stories of Sinbad the Sailor?

The human agricultural practices probably still reflect their Indonesian origin. Humans have cut and burned down a lot of the forest to create grazing for cattle and farm land for rice with the result that there is a lot of serious erosion and desertification. There is a danger that soon the only forest will be found in small reserves.

Droughts and famine are becoming more frequent: formerly once every ten years; now every two or three years. Droughts and reduction in rainfall generally are causing increasing aridty and more extensive arid zones.

 History

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 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

May be improving.

Climate effects

The reduction in rainfall is consistent with climate change models.

Last revised 14/09/11


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