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Madagascar was one of the last major landmasses on earth to be colonized by humans. The earliest settlers from present-day Indonesia arrived between A.D. 350 and 550. The island attracted Arab and Persian traders as early as the 7th century, and migrants from Africa arrived around A.D. 1000. Madagascar was a pirate stronghold during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and served as a slave trading center into the 19th century. From the 16th to the late 19th century, a native Merina Kingdom dominated much of Madagascar. The island was conquered by the French in 1896 who made it a colony; independence was regained in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. RAVALOMANANA won a second term in 2006 but, following protests in 2009, handed over power to the military, which then conferred the presidency on the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry RAJOELINA, in what amounted to a coup d'etat. Following a lengthy mediation process led by the Southern African Development Community, Madagascar held UN-supported presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013. Former de facto finance minister Hery RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA won a runoff election in December 2013 and was inaugurated in January 2014.


Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Natural Resources

graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, rare earth elements, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

Population - distribution

most of population lives on the eastern half of the island; significant clustering is found in the central highlands and eastern coastline

French (official), Malagasy (official), English
ANTANANARIVO (capital) 2.61 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Madagascar
Conventional short form
Local long form
Republique de Madagascar/Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
Local short form
semi-presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
18 55 S, 47 31 E
Time difference
UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Madagascar is a free market economy with many untapped natural resources, but no capital markets, a weak judicial system, poorly enforced contracts, and rampant government corruption. The economy faces long-term challenges to improve education, healthcare, and the environment. 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 bushfire and the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns.
External debt stocks
US$ 2,985,339,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -622,124,523
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 3,556,672,496
Exports of goods and services
US$ 3,246,962,250
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 517,455,239
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 1,253,470,291
coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (manioc, tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts; livestock products
meat processing, seafood, soap, beer, leather, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism, mining
coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, clothing, chromite, petroleum products
France 15.2%, US 12.7%, China 7.1%, South Africa 5.6%, Japan 5.5%, Netherlands 5.3%, India 5.1%, Germany 5.1%, Belgium 5% (2015)
capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food
China 24.8%, France 10.4%, Bahrain 5.6%, India 5.6%, Kuwait 4.5%, Mauritius 4.5%, South Africa 4% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Significant mineral (precious stones, nickel, and cobalt) and oil reserves
  • Agricultural (vanilla) and tourist potential
  • Public debt mostly on concessional terms
  • Dependence on agricultural and mining products
  • Inadequate road, hydraulic and electricity networks
  • Dependence on foreign aid
  • Enduring political instability

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