My report is on Madagascar. Madagascar is an island of the continent
of Africa. It is the fourth largest island in the world. It is in the
Indian Ocean. Madagascar is formed by one large island and several
small islands. The country’s total area is 226,658 square miles. It is
about the size of Texas. The central part of this large island is made
of a mountainous plateau. This separates the sides of the island.
Madagascar is partly volcanic in origin. The sides of the mountain rise
about 2,876 feet to the top. Maromokotro is located near the north of
the island. The massive Ankaratra Mountains, near the capital city of
Antananarivo, rise to the height of 2,643 miles. The land slopes
steeply to a small or narrow lowland bordering the Indian Ocean in the
east. There is a somewhat wider coastal plain next to the Mozambique
Channel in the west. The best soil in the country is found along the
coast, and in river valley’s of the central plateau. The major rivers
of Madagascar are Betsiboka, Mangoky and Onilahy. All rivers start on
the east side of the country, and flow west towards the Mozambique
Channel. The largest lake is near Toamasina. It is called Alaotra.
The eastern part of Madagascar gets a lot of rain, which is brought on
shore by winds coming from the southeasterly direction. Annual
precipitation in some areas on the eastern coast is about 120 inches.
The central plateau doesn’t get as much rain. Areas in the south and
southwest get about 15 inches of rain. Most of the rain falls between
November and April. Coastal regions remain at a warm or hot temperature
throughout the year. The central plateau has a climate of warm summers
and cool winters. Tropical rain forests are also in Madagascar. The
Savanna woodlands and grasslands grow in the drier western regions.
Desert vegetation occurs in the extreme southwest. Animal life is
uncommon in Madagascar. Lemur, is an animal that is found almost always
in Madagascar. All the animals that are in Madagascar share
characteristics with animals in Africa. The differences indicate they
evolved on Madagascar during a long period of isolation.
They have minerals in Madagascar like the ones we have in United States
of America. They have coal and nickel. Other important mineral
resources include bauxite, chromium, graphite, iron ore, petroleum and
copper deposits, as well as small amounts of salt, garnets, and mica.
Madagascar has an ethnically diverse population of 13,005,989. The
number of people living there is growing at a comparatively high annual
rate of 3.2 percent. Some major ethnic groups are the Merina, who makes
up 27 percent of the total population, and the Betsilo [12 percent] who
are related to the Merina. Both groups descended mostly from Malaya and
Indonesia about 2,000 years ago. The coastal areas are in habited
mainly by a group of mixed people. The ancestries among these people
are Malayo-Indonesian, black African, and Arab. The ethnic groups are
Tsimihety [7 percent ], Sakalave [6 percent ], and Antaiska [5 percent ]
. Only 22 percent of the total population is classified as urban.
Antananarivo the capital, is the largest city with a population of
703,000. Other important cities are Toamasina [139,000], Fianarantsoa
[111,000], Mahajanga [111,000], Toliara [59,000], and Antsiranana
The two official languages of Madagascar are the Merina dialect of
Malagasy, a language of Malayo-Indonesian origin, and the other is
French. Approximately 41 percent of the religion in Madagascar is
Christian. Fifty-two percent follows traditional beliefs and 7 percent
In 1976 the government passed legislation making six years of school
mandatory. By the middle of the 1980s the literacy rate was up 67
percent. Virtually all children in the age group of six to eleven
attended elementary school, and 21 percent of those between the ages of
twelve and seventeen were enrolled in secondary school. The country’s
main source of higher education is at the University of Antananarivo.
Most of higher education centers are located in Antananarivo.
Madagascar’s radio and television broadcasting is provided by
Radio-Television Malgasy and Radio Madagasikara. Both stations are
state owned. Not everybody has a radio or television, so the government
owns a newspaper, Madagascar-Tribune. There is one other newspaper it is
the Imongo Vaovao. Both of the newspapers are made in Antananarivo.
In 1975, Madagascar’s government said, under the constitution, that the
country was ruled by a president who was elected for seven years. They
have a twenty-two member Supreme Revolutionary Council, which is
appointed by the president. They also have a Council of Ministers that
is lead by the Prime Minister. They have yet another council it is
called the People’s National Assembly. It is a 137 member assembly,
elected by the people. The members serve a five year term. Madagascar’s
Judicial system is based upon that of France. It includes a supreme
court, located in Antananarivo, a court of appeal, eleven courts of
first instance, and special economic and criminal tribunals.
Madagascar’s military has 21,000 members. Madagascar is a member of the
United Nations. It also is a part of the Organization of African Unity,
and several other organizations.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country
remains, like in colonial times, mostly agricultural. Eighty percent of
the country’s labor force is engaged in agricultural activities.
The main food crops in Madagascar are rice, cassava, beans, bananas,
corn, sweet potatoes, and taro. The production of goods has not kept up
with the growing population. Also, the importation of large amounts of
food, can’t keep up with it either. The cash crops are coffee, cloves,
sugarcane, sisal, tobacco, and eighty percent of the world’s supply of
vanilla. Livestock includes 10.6 million cattle, one point one million
goats, and one point four million pigs. Not a lot of commercial fishing
is done in Madagascar. Most of the fish caught is consumed locally.
Efforts to replenish the forest lands are underway. They are planning
to do this because in the middle 1980s 7.3 million cubic feet of forest
land was cut.
Public transportation in Madagascar is not very high. The country has
only 549 miles of railroad track. They have some 11,560 miles of road.
Thirty percent of the roads are paved. Only about 36,000 cars are in
use. Toamasina is the main port handling 35 percent of the nation’s
foreign trade. Mahajanga, Toliara, and Antsiranana are some other port
cities. Madagascar only has four major airports. The international
airport is located in Antananarivo. Madagascar has its own airline,
which is called Air Madagascar.
Foreign trade in Madagascar generally has a negative balance. In the
late 1980's import and export values have increased. Coffee has made up
28 percent of all exports by value, followed by vanilla [twenty-six
percent], sugar [five percent], and cloves and clove oil [four percent].
Exports include Chemicals [fifteen percent], machinery [fourteen
percent], crude petroleum [ten percent], motor vehicles and parts [nine
percent], and metal products [seven percent]. The major trading partners
of Madagascar are France, United States, Germany, and Japan.
Of course Madagascar has its own money. The money in Madagascar is
called Malagasy franc. One dollar in US currency is equal to 1846.87
The history of Madagascar, first European to sight the island was Diogo
Dias. Dias was from Portugal. He found the island some time in the
1500s. During the 17th century, the Portuguese, the English, and the
French successively and unsuccessfully tried to colonize Madagascar.
The French got a temporary hold on the island in 1642. They were driven
out in 1674. They finally acquired trading places along the east coast
in the following century. From 1810 to 1828, during the reign of the
Merina king, Radama I, who didn’t like the French, allowed the English
to come and live there. British officers trained Merina troops, and
British missionaries introduced Christianity. After the death of Radama
I, a strong reaction towards European culture developed. Reforms were
abolished, the missionaries were persecuted, and trade relations with
Great Britain were severed. Radama II reigned from 1861 to 1863. He was
a generally a progressive ruler. He got along with the French. Radama
II was killed because of this fact. There was a period of time when
they’re arguing with the French. After that period of time, Queen
Ranavalona III took over ruling Madagascar, in 1895. In 1896, because
of popular uprisings, Madagascar was proclaimed a colony of France.
Then military rule was instituted, and the queen was sent out of the
country and was not allowed to return. Now Madagascar has its own
government, and is progressing well. They have a system similar to the
United States. They have a congress, a constitution, and a president.
Their president is elected for a seven year term. Unlike our
president’s term that is only for four years. The official name for
Madagascar is Democratic Republic of Madagascar.
I chose to do my report on Madagascar because it is an island. I love
islands. I have always wanted to live on an island. Another reason I
choose Madagascar was because I had heard of Madagascar but never really
found out where it was until I did my report.