the Republic of Madagascar. The nation
comprises the island of Madagascar (the
fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral
Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, and it was originally settled by people of Indonesian and African descent, which you can clearly see
when you look at the inhabitants. There has been a debate of point of origin; others have suggested that the people of Madagascar
have descendants from Indonesia and Africa who mixed before their arrival on the isolated island and then were specific to that island, but some 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.
France annexed Madagascar in 1896 and
declared the island a colony the following year for up to 63 years of colonial rule. Madagascar galvanized the growing independence movement in 1956. A period of provisional government ended with the
adoption of a constitution in 1959 and full independence on 26 June 1960.
At 592,800 square kilometres
(228,900 sq mi), Madagascar is the
world's 47th largest country and
country lies mostly between latitudes 12°S and 26°S, and longitudes 43°E and 51°E. Neighboring
islands include the French territory of Réunion and the country of Mauritius to the east, as well as the state of Comoros and the French territory of Mayotte to the north west. The nearest mainland state is Mozambique, located to the west.
Initial human settlement of Madagascar occurred
between 350 BCE and 550 CE by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. These were
joined around 1000 CE by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel. Other groups continued to
settle on Madagascar over time,
each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic
group is often divided
into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Education was prioritized under the Ravalomanana
administration (2002–09), and is currently free and compulsory from ages 6 to
13. The primary schooling cycle is five years, followed by four years at the
lower secondary level and three years at the upper secondary level.
In 2012, the population of Madagascar was
estimated at just over 22 million, 90 percent of whom live on less
than two dollars per day. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the
state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an
amalgamation of both. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater
investments in education, health and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar's
development strategy. Under Ravalomanana these investments produced substantial
economic growth but the benefits were not evenly spread throughout the
population, producing tensions over the increasing cost of living and declining
living standards among the poor and some segments of the middle class.