Where is Madagascar located?

What countries border Madagascar?

Madagascar Weather

What is the current weather in Madagascar?

Madagascar Facts and Culture

What is Madagascar famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: Family is important, with parents and elderly being respected and honored. Close ties between this world and the next... More
  • Family: The family system is very important in Madagascar. It is more important to respect people than to "make money". ... More
  • Personal Apperance: Western style and traditional clothing are worn. Many Western style clothes are of a poor quality. Traditional clothing... More
  • Recreation: Soccer, volleyball, tolona (wrestling) and swimming are popular sports. Family activities are also important. Fanorona (pronounced "Fuh-noorn") is a Malagasy... More
  • Diet: Rice is the main staple. Many people if they can afford it eat rice three times a day. At... More
  • Visiting: Most people don't have free time from Monday to Friday but on the weekends family and friends gather to discuss... More

Madagascar Facts

What is the capital of Madagascar?

Capital Antananarivo
Government Type semi-presidential republic
Currency Malagasy Franc (MGF)
Total Area 226,657 Square Miles
587,041 Square Kilometers
Location Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique
Language French (official), Malagasy (official)
GDP - real growth rate 3.4%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $1,500.00 (USD)

Madagascar Demographics

What is the population of Madagascar?

Ethnic Groups Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
Nationality Noun Malagasy (singular and plural)
Population 26,955,737
Population Growth Rate 2.65%
Population in Major Urban Areas ANTANANARIVO (capital) 1.987 million
Urban Population 32.600000

Madagascar Government

What type of government does Madagascar have?

Executive Branch chief of state: President Andry RAJOELINA (since 16 December 2023)

head of government: Prime Minister Christian NTSAY (since 6 June 2018)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 16 November 2023 (next to be held in November 2028); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly, appointed by the president

election results:

2023: Andry RAJOELINA reelected president in first round; percent of vote - Andry RAJOELINA (TGV) 59.0%, Siteny Thierry RANDRIANASOLONIAIKO 14.4%, Marc RAVALOMANANA (TIM) 12.1%, other 14.5%

2018: Andry RAJOELINA elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Andry RAJOELINA (TGV) 39.2%, Marc RAVALOMANANA (TIM) 35.4%, other 25.4%; percent of vote in second round - Andry RAJOELINA 55.7%, Marc RAVALOMANANA 44.3%
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Citizenship citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Madagascar; in the case of a child born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown
National Holiday Independence Day, 26 June (1960)
Constitution history: previous 1992; latest passed by referendum 17 November 2010, promulgated 11 December 2010

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic in consultation with the cabinet or supported by a least two thirds of both the Senate and National Assembly membership; passage requires at least three-fourths approval of both the Senate and National Assembly and approval in a referendum; constitutional articles, including the form and powers of government, the sovereignty of the state, and the autonomy of Madagascar’s collectivities, cannot be amended
Independence 26 June 1960 (from France)

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Madagascar Geography

What environmental issues does Madagascar have?

Overview Madagascar, the world's fourth-largest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo, is situated in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the southeast coast of Africa. Covering 226,658 square miles, it is 995 miles long and 360 miles across at its widest point. Madagascar extends from 8 to 26 degrees south latitude

The east coast of Madagascar is virtually a straight line facing the Indian Ocean. The western coastline, facing the Mozambique Channel and Africa, is more contoured. A spine of mountains running the length of the island from north to south creates a distinct geographical division between the east and west. Along the crest of this ridge lie the central highlands, a plateau region ranging in altitude from 2,450 to 4,400 feet above sea level. This central ridge is punctuated by higher mountain massifs in three areas: by the Tsaratanana Mountain massif in the far north; by the Ankaratra massif in the central area south of the capital, Antananarivo; and by the Andringitra massif further south.

The central highlands are characterized by terraced, rice-growing valleys nestled among barren hills. Here, the crust of red laterite that covers much of the island has been exposed by erosion, showing why the country is known as "the Great Red Island." Toward the east, a steep escarpment leads from the central highlands down through a strip of dense rain forest to a narrow coastal plain. The Canal des Pangalanes, a chain of natural and man-made lakes connected by canals, runs parallel to the eastern coast for some 300 miles.

The descent from the central highlands toward the west is more gradual, and is characterized by remnants of deciduous forest and savannah-like plains. In the south and southwest, these plains become quite dry, and it is here that one finds the unique spiny desert and famous baobabs.

In the north of the island, the Tsaratanana Mountain massif (at 9,468 feet, the highest point in Madagascar) separates Diego Suarez, one of the world's great natural harbors, from the rest of the island.


Madagascar's geography creates many climatic subdivisions. The coastal climate is hot and tropical, with the east coast receiving the most rainfall (more than 160 inches of rain in Maroantsetra.). This is due to the effect of moisture-laden trade winds off the Indian Ocean as they encounter the steep escarpment of the Madagascar coastline. The east coast is also most affected by the cyclones which periodically hit the island, often causing extensive damage. East coast temperatures reach an average high of 85° in the summer and 72° in the winter.

On the west coast, precipitation levels drop off from north to south. There are desert areas of the deep south which receive only 2 inches of rain per year. West coast temperatures are generally several degrees warmer than the east coast temperatures.

The central highlands, where the capital Antananarivo is located, have a more temperate climate. There are two primary seasons; the rainy summer season, which lasts from approximately November through mid-March; and the dry season, from mid-March through October. In (southern) summer, there are periods of rain almost every day, often in the late afternoon. Cyclones, which can affect the coastal areas, do not reach the highlands, but their influence can cause extended periods of rain. The average daily high temperature in summer is in the mid 80's, with a hot mid-day sun alternating with the periods of rain. Nighttime lows average in the low 60's.

The shoulder months of April, May and September, October are very pleasant, with little rain, blue skies, and daytime highs in the 70's. In the (southern) winter months of June-August, the skies are often sunny and daytime highs can reach the mid-to-high 60s. However, there are also chilly days which are overcast and windy with daytime highs in the 50's. Nighttime lows in winter can drop into the 40's in Antananarivo.

Environment - Current Issues soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several species of flora and fauna unique to the island are endangered
Environment - International Agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Terrain narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Madagascar Economy

How big is the Madagascar economy?

Economic Overview Madagascar is a mostly unregulated economy with many untapped natural resources, but no capital markets, a weak judicial system, poorly enforced contracts, and rampant government corruption. The country faces challenges to improve education, healthcare, and the environment to boost long-term economic growth. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by bushfires, slash-and-burn clearing techniques, and the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns to the agriculture dependent economy.

After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization until a 2009 coup d’état led many nations, including the United States, to suspend non-humanitarian aid until a democratically-elected president was inaugurated in 2014. The pre-coup strategy had placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low starting point. Exports of apparel boomed after gaining duty-free access to the US market in 2000 under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); however, Madagascar's failure to comply with the requirements of the AGOA led to the termination of the country's duty-free access in January 2010, a sharp fall in textile production, a loss of more than 100,000 jobs, and a GDP drop of nearly 11%.

Madagascar regained AGOA access in January 2015 and ensuing growth has been slow and fragile. Madagascar produces around 80% of the world’s vanilla and its reliance on this commodity for most of its foreign exchange is a significant source of vulnerability. Economic reforms have been modest and the country’s financial sector remains weak, limiting the use of monetary policy to control inflation. An ongoing IMF program aims to strengthen financial and investment management capacity.
Industries meat processing, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism
Currency Name and Code Malagasy Franc (MGF)
Export Partners France 39.2%, US 19.8%, Germany 5.5%, Japan 4.8%, Singapore 4.2%
Import Partners France 37.9%, US 19.1%, Germany 5.3%, Japan 4.7%, Singapore 4.1%

Madagascar News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Madagascar?
Source: Google News

Madagascar Travel Information

What makes Madagascar a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Madagascar is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. The primary languages are French and Malagasy. French is less spoken outside of major cities. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality and are in general limited. Travelers seeking high-end accommodations should make reservations in advance.


Madagascar has experienced a dramatic spike not only in the number of crimes, but also in their severity and type. To put this into perspective, Madagascar remains, by and large, safer than many other African countries and even certain U.S. cities.

Over the last three years, there has been a surge in armed attacks. The number of reported incidents has increased steadily since 2009, and by mid-2013, the U.S. Embassy noted reports of more home invasions. The majority of reported crimes targeted Malagasies and did not involve foreigners.

Carjackings, though infrequent in cities, are known to occur. There have been many reports of thieves reaching into stopped vehicles, opening unlocked doors, or sometimes breaking the windows to steal cell phones, purses, and even jewelry from their victims. Keeping windows rolled up and doors locked will minimize these types of situations.

In addition, armed bandit attacks on vehicles carrying goods and people—specifically taxi-bes (which operate within urban centers) and taxi-brousses (which travel to outlying regions) —have increased drastically since 2009 and now occur regularly. Groups of armed bandits often position themselves on the national routes after dark to ambush vehicles. Others have involved armed criminals who stage a “breakdown” that blocks the roadway, forcing the victimized driver to slow down, and hence become more vulnerable. Additionally, sometimes local villagers design a “trap” of sand, a tree log, or some other substance or condition that makes the only viable road impassible. Local villagers then “assist” the stranded vehicle and expect monetary compensation. Although the interim government has taken steps to increase checkpoints to deter banditry, the U.S. Embassy prohibits personnel from traveling at night outside of Antananarivo or the other major cities, due to these attacks and the lack of security force coverage outside of city limits. All U.S. citizens are advised to avoid unknown taxis, especially if alone or at night.

Another major concerns for visitors, especially those in Antananarivo, are crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and residential and vehicular theft. Although some of these crimes are non-confrontational, incidents involving violence by assailants do occur and are rising, particularly when the victim resists and when several persons confront the victim. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of physical attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, particularly in coastal tourist areas. A number of these attacks resulted in serious injuries and, in rare cases, fatalities. Criminal elements in Antananarivo and throughout Madagascar are becoming bolder when selecting their victims, and are also committing more crimes in areas that are considered to be “safe:” those that are generally well-lit and well-traveled by pedestrians and vehicles.

Criminal gangs comprised of felons, ex-military, and police are known to commit home invasions and kidnappings, sometimes targeting foreigners. In April 2013, a Western businessman working in Antananarivo was kidnapped at gunpoint and held for four days before being released for ransom. Organized gangs of bandits are known to patrol areas where foreigners, who are perceived to be wealthy, tend to congregate. Crimes such as burglary and robbery also occur in areas outside the capital, and the threat of confrontational and violent crime in rural and isolated areas continues to rise. Coastal cities like Toamasina and Mahajunga have experienced a particularly significant rise in crime over the last year, and violent assaults on foreign travelers in high-traffic tourist areas, like Nosy Be, the Ankerana and Montagne d’Ambre National Parks adjacent to Diego, and the area surrounding Tolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin), have also been reported.

To reduce the risk of being victimized, travel in groups and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying costly electronic items (iPods, digital cameras, or high-end cell phones) with you in public. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle or at a hotel (unless locked in the hotel safe). Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of Western-standard hotels, restaurants, and night clubs in Antananarivo. Visitors are strongly discouraged from traveling outside of cities after dark, due to banditry, lack of lighting, poor road conditions, and lack of security assets. While traveling in vehicles, remember to lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up at all times.

In major cities, the National Police are charged with maintaining peace and security. Outside of major cities, the Gendarmerie is primarily responsible for these duties. Due to a lack of resources and equipment, police and gendarmerie responses to victims of crime are often limited, slow, or nonexistent. Though not exclusively targeted at foreigners, popular discontent with the ability of authorities to maintain law and order has resulted in a number of incidents of violent vigilantism and summary mob justice. As recently as October 2013, two French nationals accused of being pedophiles or organ traffickers in Nosy Be were burned alive by an angry crowd. A third suspect, a Malagasy national held by police, was seized and also killed. Similar incidents of mob justice have occurred throughout the country, including Diego, Toamasina, and Tolagnaro (Ft. Dauphin).

U.S. citizens visiting Madagascar should not expect to experience any hostility or aggression solely because of their citizenship.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Bootlegs are illegal in the United States, and their purchase may also violate local Malagasy laws.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It's very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Persons violating Malagasy laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs, as well as child prostitution, are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines in Madagascar.

Arrest notifications in host country:

While some countries will automatically notify the U.S. Embassy if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Standards of healthcare throughout Madagascar are well below U.S. standards. There are small hospitals and clinics in Antananarivo that provide basic but acceptable care for emergencies. Outside of Antananarivo, the quality of care is very questionable and should only be used when other options are not available. Caution and good judgment should be exercised when seeking hospital and medical services. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of hospitals and specialists, which can be provided on demand.

Most medications, generally of French or South African origin, are available in Antananarivo. If you need to refill a prescription from outside of Madagascar, it is important to carry a prescription from your health care provider listing the medicine's generic name, but it is best not to rely on re-filling medications in Madagascar as the availability varies. Travelers are advised to carry a supply of anti-malarial medication if traveling outside Antananarivo. U.S. citizens who will be carrying medications with them to Madagascar may wish to contact the Malagasy Embassy in Washington, D.C., regarding any restrictions on imports.

Ambulance services are available in Antananarivo with Assistance Plus at 032 07 801 10 or 22 487 47; Polyclinique d’Ilafy at 22 425 73 or 033 11 458 48; Espace Medical at 22 625 66 or 22 481 73 or 034 05 625 66; and CDU (Centre de Diagnostic Medical d’Urgences) at 22 329 56. However, due to traffic jams, response times are often dangerously slow. Assistance Plus has air ambulance capacity for remote and less accessible regions of the country.

Malaria is prevalent, particularly in the coastal regions. Using preventive measures and malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. Rabies is endemic, and there are many street dogs. It is recommended that travelers have the pre-exposure vaccination series prior to arrival in Madagascar. If bitten by an animal, wash the affected area immediately with soap and running water for ten minutes. Seek medical care immediately at the Institute Pasteur in Antananarivo. Plague is also endemic to Madagascar, but casual tourists are unlikely to be infected. While the reported HIV prevalence rate is low, particularly by African standards, Madagascar suffers from a very high reported incidence of sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.

The East African Indian Ocean islands have seen a rise in cases of chikungunya, a viral dengue-like ailment, and dengue itself. As with malaria, chikungunya and dengue are transmitted by mosquitoes. Every effort should be made to use bed nets, repellants, proper clothing, and barriers that discourage/prevent mosquito bites. The CDC has further information on chikungunya and dengue on their website.

Travelers should drink bottled water or carbonated beverages. Local water is not potable. Water purification tablets may be used as necessary. Bottled water is readily available.

Safety and Security

In March 2009, the democratically elected government of Madagascar resigned in actions that the U.S. government has termed a coup d’état. Internationally observed presidential and parliamentary elections are currently scheduled for October 25 and December 20, 2013, but spontaneous protests remain possible, particularly in Antananarivo.

Travelers should maintain security awareness at all times and avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations. Certain large gatherings, such as concerts or scenes of accidents, also may pose a threat to foreigners. In September 2013, the U.S. Embassy prohibited U.S. government personnel from visiting or transiting l’Avenue de l’Independence in downtown Antananarivo, after multiple explosive devices were either found or detonated in central Antananarivo.

Travel in the provincial areas is generally safe but caution should be exercised at all times. At the start of the political crisis in January 2009, a number of provincial capitals experienced political demonstrations that had, on occasion, become violent and resulted in clashes with security forces and looting. A number of national highways connecting provincial cities and the capital experienced temporary road blocks by political demonstrators resulting in travel delays.

There are random police vehicle checkpoints throughout Madagascar, so all visitors should carry photo identification (residency card, U.S. passport) in the event of police questioning. These checkpoints are routine in nature, and should not result in vehicle and/or person searches as long as valid identification is shown.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Madagascar, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In Madagascar, you drive on the right side of the road, generally yielding the right of way to vehicles coming in from the left. Some major intersections and traffic circles have police directing traffic. If a policeman has his back to you at an intersection, you are required to stop. Laws make seatbelt use mandatory and prohibit cell phone use while driving, even with a hands-free attachment. Child safety seats are not mandatory, but motorcycle helmets are required in Madagascar. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, your car will be impounded for a few days, and you will have to pay a fine. If you are involved in an accident involving injuries and/or deaths, there is a mandatory court case. The losing party of the court case must then pay all costs.

Except for Antananarivo’s main streets and a few well-maintained routes to outlying cities, many roads are in various states of disrepair. Some may be impassable during the November-March rainy season. Night travel by private or public transportation outside Antananarivo is strongly discouraged, due to poor lighting and road conditions. Roads tend to be narrow and winding with many one-lane bridges and blind curves, and most roads outside of main routes and city centers are cobblestone, gravel, or packed dirt. Most vehicles tend to drive in the center of the road unless another vehicle is present. It is common to find livestock or human-drawn carts in the middle of the road, even at night. Local practice is to blow the horn before going around a curve, to let others know of one's presence. There are few pedestrian crosswalks and no working traffic signals.

Travel within Antananarivo can be difficult with poor road signage, streets congested with pedestrians, bicycles, animal carts, vehicular traffic, and an abundance of one-way streets. Taxis are plentiful and are generally reasonably priced. Bargain for the fare prior to getting into a vehicle. Most accidents are pedestrian-related, due to narrow roads and lack of sidewalks on many streets. When traveling between cities, travelers must have clear directions as there are rarely signs indicating where one must turn to reach a destination. Conditions of rural roads can degrade significantly and with little notice during the rainy season.

Rental cars generally come with a driver who is responsible for maintaining the vehicle and sometimes acts as a tour guide. Public transportation is unreliable and vehicles are poorly maintained. Rail services are extremely limited and unreliable.

The Ministry of Public Works, telephone (20) 22-318-02, is Madagascar's authority responsible for road safety. During an emergency, visitors to Antananarivo can contact local police by dialing 117, 22-227-35, or 22-357-09/10. U.S. citizens can also call the U.S. Embassy at (261) 20-23-480-00 if assistance is needed in communicating with law enforcement officials.

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