Country profile Madagascar

Map of Madagascar

Located off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. The island nation has developed in isolation and is famous for its unique wildlife.

Traditionally, the economy is based on the cultivation of paddy rice, coffee, vanilla and cloves.

But despite a wealth of natural resources and a tourism industry fueled by its unique setting, the country remains one of the world’s poorest and relies heavily on foreign aid.

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Madagascar has experienced repeated bouts of political instability, including coups, violent unrest and disputed elections.

The most recent coup in 2009 resulted in five years of political deadlock, international condemnation and economic sanctions.

To read more country profiles – Profiles of BBC surveillance

Chairman: Andry Rajoelina

Businessman Andry Rajoelina took office as president in January 2019, ending a decade of political turmoil that began with his 2009 ouster of President Marc Ravalomanana.

The feud between the two men came to a head that year when President Ravalomanana sacked Mr. Rajoelina as mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.

The ousted mayor, in turn, led a revolt that drove the president into exile. Mr Rajoelina ruled as head of an interim agency that struggled with international sanctions until 2014, when an often difficult process of agreement between rival political camps led to his ceding power to President-elect Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Mr Rajoelina then defeated both President Rajaonarimampianina and Mr Ravalomanana in a late 2018 presidential election.

The media is highly politicized and vulnerable to the influence of its owners, says Reporters Without Borders.

Radio is an important source of news. Around 10% of Malagasy people are online.

Some important dates in the history of Madagascar:

French troops during an uprising in Madagascar

In 1947, French troops put down an uprising

16-17 Centuries – The first Europeans arrive but are unable to gain a foothold.

1883 – French invasion.

1896 – Monarchy overthrown and Madagascar declared a French colony.

1946 – Madagascar becomes a French overseas territory.

1947 – France puts down a rebellion.

1960 – Madagascar becomes independent, with Philibert Tsiranana as President.

1975 – Didier Ratsiraka seizes power in a coup and rules for almost 30 years.

1992 – Democratic reforms lead to a new constitution.

2001 – After a disputed presidential election, Didier Ratsiraka flees to France.

2009 – Bloodless coup leads to economic sanctions.

2013 – Democratic elections do not bring political stability as the executive is pitted against the legislature.

2018 – Andry Rajoelina wins the presidential election.

Madagascar's former President Ratsiraka

Didier Ratsiraka dominated politics for decades

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