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Missionary Spotlight – Fact File – Madagascar

September 2003

Fact File – Madagascar

Area: 226,657 square miles; the fourth largest island in the world; lying east of Mozambique.

 

Environment

: The climate is tropical on the coast, temperate inland, and arid in the south and south west. Madagascar has a narrow coastal plain and central mountainous plateau (Maromokotro 2,876 metres). It experiences periodic devastating cyclones.

Population

: 16 million. Only 3% are 65 years and over.

Infant mortality

: 85 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Life expectancy

: 55 years.

Ethnic groups

: Malagasy (mixed Indonesian, African and Arab) 98.6%; others, including Chinese, Reunionese, Comoran, Arab, Indian and French, 1.4%.

Official languages

: Malagasy, French.

Literacy

: 46%.

Capital

: Antananarivo.

Economy

: Madagascar has a subsistence agricultural economy. Exports include coffee, vanilla, cloves and sugar. The country’s extensive forests are being rapidly slashed and burned, leading to soil erosion and loss of habitat from a richly diverse ecosystem. Natural resources include coal, minerals (bauxite, mica, graphite, chromium) and fish. Hydroelectricity is a significant power source. Economic development has been hindered by mismanagement, corruption and political unrest. There is malnutrition, malaria and a poor infrastructure, as well as rapid population growth.

Religions

: Traditional 45%, Protestant 27%, Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 7%, others, including cults 1%.

Protestant denominations

: Reformed Church (FKJM), Lutheran, Anglican, various Evangelical, various Pentecostal and Charismatic, Bible Baptist, others.

History

: Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, and gained independence from France in 1960. In 1993 democratic elections were held, ending 20 years of Marxist-type rule, but many social problems have continued.

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Madagascar