Madagascar, in long form the Republic of Madagascar is an island state in the Indian Ocean geographically linked to the African continent from which it is separated by the Mozambique Channel. It is the fifth largest island in the world after Australia, Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. 1,580 km long and 580 km wide, Madagascar covers an area of ​​587,000 km2. Its capital is Antananarivo and the country has the currency Ariary. Its inhabitants, the Malagasy, are an Austronesian people speaking a Malayo-Polynesian language: Malagasy. The country is surrounded by other islands and archipelagos including Mauritius, Seychelles, Mayotte, Comoros and Reunion.

During most of the 19th century, the island was administered by the Kingdom of Madagascar, this administration was carried out within the framework of the French protectorate of Madagascar after 1883, following the first expedition from Madagascar. The protectorate being little applied by the Malagasy government, France organized a second military expedition from 1895. The French establishments of Diego Suarez, Nosy Be and Île Sainte-Marie were attached to the protectorate on January 28, 1896. unrest following the French military intervention will lead, in 1897, to the end of the Madagascan autonomy, to the annexation of the island by France and to the reunion of the former protectorate and other French territories within of the colony of Madagascar and dependencies. The first Malagasy autonomous government was born again on October 10, 1958 when the Republic of Madagascar was proclaimed on the territory of the former protectorate (territory of the former Merina Kingdom and the former French establishments of Diego Suarez, Nosy Be and the ‘Île Sainte-Marie). In 1960, the Republic of Madagascar gained independence, which made the country one of the first to become independent in this area of ​​the Indian Ocean.

The country is divided into six historic (faritany) provinces, the same name as that of the cities that administered them: Antananarivo or Tananarive, Antsiranana or Diego-Suarez, Fianarantsoa, ​​Mahajanga or Majunga, Toamasina or Tamatave and Toliara or Tulear. For twenty centuries, Madagascar has been shaped by peoples from diverse horizons: Africa, South-East Asia (Indonesia), the Near East, Europe… to create the current Malagasy multicultural society. This country of more than 24 million inhabitants is very culturally diverse and has 18 distinct ethnic groups (Foko), or indigenous nations, speaking Austronesian languages ​​and three minorities more recently arrived the Karanes, the Sinoas and the Vazahas. Madagascar belongs to the group of least developed countries according to the UN.

Madagascar’s history

An Austronesian origin common to the whole island: the Vahoaka Ntaolo: Vazimba and Vezo (ca 2000 BC – 700)

The numerous recent multidisciplinary researches – archaeological, genetic, linguistic and historical all confirm that the whole of the Malagasy people is primarily of Austronesian

  • origin from the Indonesian archipelago. genetically, an old “Polynesian motif” (mitochondrial DNA / haplogroup B / subgroup B4a1a1a2) common and unique in the world has been detected within different Malagasy ethnic groups that are geographically distant and historically endogamous such as the Vézos and the Merinas (this alteration of the “Polynesian motif” of origin, common and specific to Malagasy, has been baptized “Malagasy motif” by genetic researchers)
  • linguistically, the Malagasy lexicon is composed of 90% of Austronesian vocabulary
  • on the morphological level, finally, this first Southeast Asian origin of the Malagasies explains the Asian characteristics common to the entire population of the island, already detected in 1940 by Professor Albert Ratsimamanga, in particular the epicanthal fold of the upper eyelid present in some Malagasy.

This original Austronesian (vahoaka ntaolo in Malagasy) people who can be called the “protomalgaches” (from the Greek protos – “first”) are at the origin:

  • of the Malagasy language common to the whole island: a language from the Proto-Austronesian, belonging to the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian branch (proto-MP) and to the Proto-Southeast Barito sub-branch (proto-SEB) which shares these same ancient common bases with the current Dayak languages ​​of the barito group of South Borneo such as Ma’anyan, dusun deyah, dusun malang, dusun witu and paku today;
  • of all the Malagasy cultural background common to all Austronesians, from the Pacific Islands to Indonesia, and up to New Zealand and the Philippines: ancient customs (like that of burying the deceased in a canoe at the bottom of the sea ​​or lake), ancient agriculture (the cultivation of taro-saonjo, banana-akondro, coconut-voanio and sugar-fary cane which is native to New Guinea), architecture traditional (house levu plant with square base on stilts), music (instruments like the antsiva marine conch, the hazolahy ceremonial drum, the atranatrana xylophone, the sodina flute or the valiha zither) and dance (notably “dance birds ”which are found both in the center and in the South).

At the very beginning of settlement, called “Palaeomalgache period”, the Ntaolo were subdivided, according to their subsistence choices, into two large groups: the Vazimbas (from * ba / va-yimba- “those of the forest”, from * yimba- “Forest” in proto South-East Barito (SEB), today barimba or orang rimba in Malay) who settled – as their name suggests – in the forests of the interior and the Vézos (from * ba / va / be / ve-jau, “those of the coast” in Proto-Malayo-Javanese, today veju in bugis and bejau in Malay, bajo in Javanese) which remained on the West Coast.

The qualifier Vazimba therefore originally designated the Ntaolo hunters and / or gatherers who decided to settle “in the forest”, especially in the forests of the central highlands of the Big Island and those of the East and Southeast coast , while the Vezo were the Ntaolo fishermen who stayed on the West and South coasts (probably the coasts of the first landing). Let us note here a fundamental debate among the research community: the word vazimba being an Austronesian qualifier designating the “inhabitants of the forest” in general (including the Austronesians themselves who settled in the forests), there n It is not to be excluded that other aboriginal Vazimba hominids, of the Florès man type for example, lived in the forests of Madagascar tens or even hundreds of thousands of years before the arrival of the Austronesian vazimba. Some may still have existed when the Austronesian vahoaka ntaolo arrived in the first millennium BCE. This could explain the myth of the “small primary men / dwarves of the forest” that the Austronesian vahoaka ntaolo – ancestor of the majority of present-day Malagasy – would have encountered and assimilated (or perhaps wiped out) upon their arrival. The compelling evidence behind this myth is still lacking today. Only archeology and genetics can provide them. Finally, it cannot be excluded either that the myth of “vazimba-little men / dwarfs” was taken away by the Austronesians from the islands where they lived before, in which case this myth could indeed concern hominids of the type ” Florès ”or Négrito (orang asli in Malay). The latter, of small size, indeed inhabited the forests of the Sunda Islands well before the arrival on the spot of the Austronesians, and are considered as being the aboriginal peoples there. We know for example that the myth of the ogre “Trimo be eater of child” is a tale led by the Austronesians and speaks in fact of the tiger (of * (t) rimu, “tiger” in proto-MP) the forests of the Sunda Islands. The myth of the “little vazimba dwarfs” may have undergone a similar journey.

Computer simulations of the navigation between Indonesia and Madagascar allow us to understand the possible routes that led to the colonization of Madagascar by Austronesians from the beginning of our era. The Maldives, and to a lesser extent the neighboring Chagos, were a likely stopover on the road to Madagascar, both from Sumatra and from southern India and Sri Lanka, where Javanese and Malaysian sailors and merchants went for the trade. As for the cause of the arrival of these Austronesians, the history of the Indian Ocean from the beginning of the first millennium AD is still very little known. We can only assume that the island of Madagascar played an important role in the trade, especially that of spices, between Southeast Asia and the Middle East, directly or via the African coasts. It may be that these vahoaka ntaolo in particular sought solid wood to build their canoes, such as lakana or vintana (a name that is still found today in vinta, contemporary namesake of the Vezo). According to an article published in Science advances in September 2018, indications of a human presence in Madagascar 10,500 years ago were discovered, which would therefore be much earlier than the date currently used for a first human occupation of Madagascar. These are traces of acts of butchery on a giant bird, the æpyornis, a species that has now disappeared.

Neo-Austronesian, Bantu, Persian and Arab immigrants (700-1600)

From the middle of the first millennium until about 1600, the Vazimba of the interior as much as the Vezo of the coasts welcomed new immigrants from the Middle East (Persians Shirazi, Omanite Arabs, Arabized Jews), Africans (Bantus) and Orientals (Indians Gujarati, Malay, Javanese, Bugis and Orang Laut) or even European (Portuguese) who integrated and became accustomed to Vezo and Vazimba society, often by marriage alliance. Although in the minority, the cultural, political and technological contributions of these newcomers to the old world Vazimba and Vezo slowly but substantially changed their society and were at the origin of the great upheavals of the sixteenth century which led to the Madagascan feudal era. Mixing with African Bantu pastoralists in the Middle Ages, for example, explains the many Bantu Swahili superstrates in the Proto-Austronesian language of the Vazimbas, notably the domestic and agrarian vocabulary (examples: the “omby” beef of Swahili ngumbe, l ‘Tongolo’ onion from Swahili Kitungu, the Madagascan pot ‘Nongo’ comes from Nungu in Swahili) The neo-Austronesian clans (Malays, Javanese, Bugis, Toraja and Orang Laut), meanwhile, historically and globally without distinction from their island of origin called the Hova (from uwa- “commoner”, “commoner” in old bugis), have, according to oral traditions, landed in the north and east of the island. According to the observation of linguists about borrowing from the old Malays (Sanskrit), Old Javanese (Sanskrit) and Old Bugi of the Middle Ages in the original Proto-Austronesian vocabulary fund (proto-SEB), the first Hova waves arrived at old century at the earliest.

Diplomats, officers, scientists, traders or simple soldiers, some allies to the sailors Orang Laut or Talaut (Antalaotra in Malagasy), these hova were probably from the Indonesian thalassocracies. Their chiefs, known under the name of the diana or andriana or raondriana (of (ra) hadyan- “lord” in old Javanese, today raden and which one also finds also in the title of nobility andi (an) at the Bugis ), have, for the most part, allied with the vazimba clans:

  • to the northwest in the region of present-day Ankoala (from Malaysian / Indonesian kuala- “estuary”) where the Orang Laut hova (Antalaotra in Malagasy) had probably established their base for actions in the Indian Ocean
  • on the east coast (Betsimisaraka) where the Hova chiefs were also called Filo be; to the south-east where the hova dynaties Zafiraminia and Zafikazimambo in particular which founded the kingdoms Antaisaka, Antaimoro, Antambahoaka, etc
  • in the west: the Maroserana dynasty (na) which founded the sakalava kingdom itself comes from the Zafiraminia of the east coast
  • in the center where the repeated alliances of the chiefs (andriana) of the hova (such as Andrianerinerina and Andriantomara and their descendants) with the chiefs of the vazimba clans (such as Rafandrana and, later, Rabiby and their descendants) during the whole of the second millennium was at the origin of the Merina Kingdom (founded in Ambohidrabiby by the Ralambo dynasty) as well as the Betsileo kingdom.

On August 10, 1500, the Portuguese Diogo Dias was the first European to see Madagascar, which he called the island São Lourenço.

Ancient period: birth of ethnic groups and kingdoms (1600-1895)

In the interior, the struggles for the hegemony of the different neo-Vazimba clans of the central highlands (which the other neo-Vezo clans of the coasts called without distinction the Hova) led to the birth of the Merina kingdoms and / or ethnic groups. , Betsileo, Bezanozano, Sihanaka, Tsimihety and Bara. On the coasts, the integration of new eastern, middle eastern and African immigrants gave birth to the neo-Vezo kingdoms and / or ethnic groups: Antakarana, Boina, Menabe (later united in Sakalaves) and Vézos (West coast), Mahafaly and Antandroy (South), Antesaka, Antambahoaka, Antemoro, Antaifasy, Antanala, Betsimisaraka (East coast). The birth of these great “post-Vazimba” / “post-Vezo” kingdoms essentially modified the political structure of the old world of the neo-Vazimba and neo-Vezo clans, but the vast majority of the old categories remained intact within these new kingdoms: the common language, customs, traditions, the sacred, the economy, the art of the ancients remained largely preserved, with variations in form depending on the region. Today, the population of Madagascar can be considered as the product of a mix between the first occupiers vahoaka ntaolo Austronesians (Vazimba and Vezo) and those who arrived later (Hova neo-Austronesians, Persians, Arabs, Africans and Europeans) . Genetically, the original Austronesian heritage is more or less well distributed throughout the island. Researchers have notably noticed the presence everywhere of the “Polynesian motif”, an old marker characteristic of the Austronesian populations dating from before the great immigrants to the Polynesian and Melanesian islands, (ca 500 BC at the latest. ). This would suppose a common starting point between the ancestors of the present Polynesians (who left for the Pacific Islands in the east) and the Vahoaka ntaolo (who went west to Madagascar) around (or before) 500 BC.

Phenotypically, it is among the upland populations (Merina, Betsileo, Bezanozano, Sihanaka), more endogamous, that the Austronesian Mongolian phenotype is most significant. We also sometimes notice the Austronesian australoid and Austronesian negrito phenotype everywhere in Madagascar (including on the highlands). Unlike the Bantu phenotype, the Austronesian “negrito” phenotype is characterized in particular by its small size. Coffee production was affected in the 1870s due to the spread of a disease from Ceylon and the English and Dutch colonies. Local populations have also suffered, like many African countries, from the slave trade. Thus, for example, Malagasy slaves were brought by Europeans to the Virreinato region of Peru, in South America, and settled mainly on the north coast of the country, in an area known as Piura. There is even in Peru a place called “Malakasy Farm”, which dates from the time when the Malagasy were exploited in the cultivation of fields, and which evokes the name of their country of origin, as it is pronounced in their own language. Currently in Peru, the descendants of these slaves are known as “Mangaches”, a corruption of the language over time. These descendants of the Malagasy have still preserved in many cases, the characteristics of Afro-Indonesian origin. Their integration in Peru was so strong that they contributed to the culture of this country by the creation of musical forms such as tondero. They even had an influence in the political field since the former Peruvian president Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro, who ruled this country in the third decade of the twentieth century, was a “Mangache”.

Colonial period (1895-1960)

Jean Laborde was appointed First Consul of France in Madagascar on April 12, 1862, under the Second Empire, that is to say before colonization proper. He is the tutor of the future King Radama II, but also the confidant of the missionaries, the initiator of the Malagasy industry and the lover of Queen Ranavalona I. It was not until the end of the 19th century, when the Europeans shared Africa at the Berlin conference (1884-1885), that the death knell of the Kingdom’s expansion and independence rang. from Madagascar. Malagasy politicians had previously played on the rivalries of the Western powers to preserve their sovereignty. The Treaty of Berlin attributes the island to France (strategic position facing the English, in the Indian Ocean). France then signs a treaty with the Kingdom of Madagascar which is based on the ambiguity of the Malagasy language and which theoretically gives no right to the French Republic over the Kingdom of Madagascar. But, over the diplomatic incidents, France led an increasingly intrusive policy, then undertook the conquest of the island.

French conquest

Resistance is massive, the Malagasy army manages to repel the first waves of invasion in 1883, but the decisive fights will follow. They are known as the “Second Franco-Malagasy War”. When the French government sends an army of ill-prepared conscripts, which progresses very slowly, diseases wreak havoc on their ranks. Finally, at the first cannon shot on the capital Antananarivo, Queen Ranavalona III hoisted the white flag. Contrary to a story forged by the authorities, then disseminated in education, the Madagascans are easily defeated. The main enemies are neither the native monarchs or chiefs, nor the slave merchant sultans, but climate and disease. When the Madagascar campaign ended in 1895, the French army lost 13 killed and 88 wounded during the fighting, and 4,498 died from diseases (malaria, dysentery …), i.e. almost 30% of losses on one total workforce of 14,850 men.  

French administration

The conquest is followed by ten years of latent civil war, due to the insurrection of the Menalamba. The “pacification” led by the French administration lasted more than fifteen years, in response to the rural guerrillas dispersed in the country. In total, the repression of this resistance to the colonial conquest claimed between 100,000 and 700,000 Malagasy victims, according to the sources. Madagascar will be under French administration from August 6, 1896 to October 14, 1958. General Joseph Gallieni, appointed Governor General of Madagascar (1896-1905), helped pacify the island, not without repressive measures. According to the latter, military action should be accompanied by aid to the colonized peoples in various fields, such as administration, the economy and education. It required a permanent contact with the inhabitants as well as a perfect knowledge of the country and its languages. On September 27, 1896, the French administration abolished slavery (it was inter-Malagasy slavery). In the summer of 1897, the Ambiky massacre, quoted by Aimé Césaire in his Discourse on Colonialism, took place as one of the examples of the violence of the colonial conquest. Under Galliéni’s impetus, numerous infrastructures were put in place: the first Tananarive-Tamatave railway (completed in 1903), completion of the Madagascar railway, rapid development of the road network (1905 to 1935), Institut Pasteur, schools. All schools established before the colonial era were closed and the obligation for the natives to speak French was introduced.

In 1907, for the first time in a century, Malagasy exports exceeded imports, and the country grew richer. Some young Malagasy will also study in France and will help to make Madagascar known. Huge mining and forestry concessions are granted to large companies. Indigenous chiefs loyal to the French administration are also granted part of the land. Forced labor is established in favor of French companies and the peasants are encouraged, through the tax, to get paid (especially in colonial concessions) to the detriment of small individual farms. Madagascar is with 46,000 men one of the French colonies to mobilize the most soldiers compared to its population during the First World War. The colonial period, however, was accompanied by movements for independence: the Menalamba, the Vy Vato Sakelika, the MDRM. In 1927, important demonstrations are organized in Antananarivo, in particular on the initiative of the communist militant François Vittori, imprisoned following this action. The 1930s saw the Malagasy anti-colonial movement gain further momentum. Malagasy unionism begins to appear in hiding and the Communist Party of the region of Madagascar is formed. But by 1939, all the organizations were dissolved by the administration of the colony, which opted for the Vichy regime. The MDRM is accused by the colonial regime of being behind the 1947 insurrection and will be prosecuted by violent repressions. The repression carried out against the resistance of the Malagasy people to its colonization would have made between 1897 and 1947 more than one hundred thousand dead for a population of 3 million inhabitants at the time.

Second World War

During World War II, to counter a possible Japanese threat to Madagascar, the British Empire led from May 1942 Operation Ironclad and gradually took possession of the strategic points of the island. The free French did not arrive until January 1943, again causing tension between General de Gaulle and the British government. A Nazi project, which could not be carried out, the Madagascar Plan aimed to deport four million Jews from Germany, its allied countries and its conquered territories, to Madagascar, then a French colony.

After war

The return of Malagasy combatants enlisted during the Second World War, the miserable living conditions of the indigenous populations and the militancy of the anti-colonialist movements favored the aspiration for independence and precipitated the outbreak of the insurrection. In March 1947, the Malagasy Insurrection broke out, causing a bloody repression by the French army which made several tens of thousands of dead, the figures oscillating, according to sources, between ten thousands and 89,000 according to Jacques Tronchon. The repression was accompanied by summary executions, torture, forced regrouping and burning of villages. The French army is experimenting with “psychological warfare”: suspects are thrown alive from planes in order to terrorize the villagers in the areas of operation. Overseas territory from 1946 to 1958, Madagascar obtained a first level of autonomy on October 10, 1958, as a Madagascan autonomous republic within the Community. On October 14, Philibert Tsiranana became president of the Council of Government before being elected first president of the Republic on May 1, 1959.

Independence and First Republic (1960-1975)

The island gained independence on June 26, 1960, but the First Malagasy Republic remained very closely linked to France through cooperation agreements. President Tsiranana, criticized by the population for his support for French interests, faced a growing challenge, in particular the student strike led from the capital to the provinces, and left power in 1972. He gives full powers to General Gabriel Ramanantsoa who decides to organize a referendum in order to formalize his power for a transitional period. Having won the referendum, he created a government of national unity, which he led until 1975, before passing the torch to the popular gendarmerie colonel Richard Ratsimandrava. The latter was assassinated after a week, on February 11, 1975 at 8 p.m. After the assassination of General Ratsimandrava, Madagascar is headed by a National Military Steering Committee chaired by General Andriamahazo. On June 14, 1975, Didier Ratsiraka was appointed head of state and government. The National Military Steering Committee was replaced by a National Revolution Committee.

Socialist experience and the Second Republic (1975-1991)

On December 21, 1975, the Malagasy approved by referendum vote the Charter of the Socialist Revolution and the new constitution establishing the Second Republic with the frigate captain Didier Ratsiraka as president. On December 30, 1975, Didier Ratsiraka proclaimed the Malagasy Democratic Republic. In March 1976, he created the Avant-Garde Party of the Malagasy Revolution (AREMA). Subsequently, he undertook to align with the position of the Soviet bloc, while being one of the active militants of non-alignment. In 1976, the government completed the expulsion of the French army and closed embassies and consulates. Ratsiraka establishes the Malagasy franc (FMG) and abandons the CFA franc. The State controls all trade with the outside. Towards the end of the 1980s, after more than 10 years of socialist experience, he was forced to set the country on the path of prudent liberalism. The opposition to Didier Ratsiraka is growing. Popular demonstrations are suppressed by the army, making numerous victims.

Post-socialism and Third Republic (1991-2010)

1991-1996: presidency Albert Zafy

The Convention of October 31, 1991 is adopted to put an end to the riots in the country. It formalizes a democratic and liberal transition led by Albert Zafy who will direct the High Authority of the State, Didier Ratsiraka remaining symbolically president of the Republic. After a brief transitional period, a new constitution was adopted by referendum, and Albert Zafy, opposition candidate, was elected president in 1993. It was the start of unprecedented economic and political liberalism, but growth long-awaited and promised is not there. The president appealed on September 17, 1995 to a constitutional referendum giving the power to the president of the Republic to appoint the Prime Minister in order to dismiss Mr. Francisque Ravony supported by the deputies of the majority. It is the beginning of an open war between the president and the deputies, which will result in the vote in June 1996 of the motion of permanent prevention of the president (dismissal). Prime Minister Norbert Ratsirahonana becomes interim head of state pending the new elections.

1997-2001: chairman Didier Ratsirak

Admiral Didier Ratsiraka, who returned a few months earlier from his exile in France, was re-elected in the second round of the presidential election (against Zafy). Madagascar experienced a period of economic stability until 2001 with 4.3% average annual growth.

2002-2009: presidency Marc Ravalomanana


The mayor of the capital, Marc Ravalomanana, leads the presidential election in December 2001. A second round is planned but it claims victory in the first round based on the results published by his own headquarters in Ankorondrano (Antananarivo district). Ravalomanana denounces massive electoral fraud and decides to corner the Ratsiraka government. President Didier Ratsiraka tries to regain control by modifying the members of the High Constitutional Court, responsible for proclaiming the electoral results in Madagascar. The candidate Ravalomanana claims the confrontation of the minutes in his possession and the official minutes. The government refuses such a method deemed “illegal” but urges opponents to participate in the second round.


Marc Ravalomanana is elected President of the Republic and later appoints Me Jacques Sylla, “Prime Minister”. The capital being acquired for the cause of the former mayor, Didier Ratsiraka decides to relocate the seat of government to Toamasina, its stronghold and main port of the island located in the east. The government erects roadblocks to paralyze and suffocate the capital, which ends up paralyzing the whole country. At the invitation of the African Union and the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade, the two protagonist parties meet in Dakar and sign agreements in April 2002 which notably provides for a new counting of votes, the organization of a referendum (at the place of a second round) if the absolute majority was not obtained and the establishment of a government of national unity led by Mr. Ravalomanana. These agreements will not be respected by the two parties who will camp on their position, once returned to the country. Ravalomanana does not release the pressure and ends up obtaining the annulment of the appointment of the new Constitutional High Court due to a formal defect, the previous Court, renewed in its functions, is responsible for proceeding with the publication of the results of the elections.

In May 2002, Marc Ravalomanana was declared the winner in the first round with more than 51% of the vote. He was invested in his office as President of the Republic a week later. He confirms Jacques Sylla as Prime Minister. He decides to call on army reservists to launch expeditions against troops loyal to Didier Ratsiraka and to “liberate” the provinces from the roadblocks. The two camps now face each other militarily. In July 2002, Toamasina, the last province where the Ratsiraka camp was entrenched, fell into the hands of Ravalomanana. Didier Ratsiraka fled with his followers on an airplane bound for France. Western countries, the United States at the head, and France at the end, recognize the victory of Ravalomanana. However, the African Union, the UN and donors did not recognize Marc Ravalomanana’s government until January 2003, following the parliamentary elections won by his party. At the end of his first mandate, President Marc Ravalomanana elaborates his vision “Madagascar Naturellement” and implements the Madagascar Action Plan (MAP), a new development program for 5 years.


In December, President Marc Ravalomanana was re-elected in the first round with 56% of the vote for a second 5-year term, with the main objective of carrying out the MAP.


In April 2007, Marc Ravalomanana had the Constitution amended by referendum in a way that strengthened presidential powers by allowing orders “in emergencies and disasters”. This revision also introduces English as the third official language, modifies the administrative structure by replacing the six autonomous provinces with 22 regions and removes the secular character of the Malagasy state. The opposition sees in this revision the risks of autocratic drift while the Malagasy Catholic Church severely criticizes the organization of the referendum, and points to “the exorbitant power” granted to the president. Catholic episcopal authorities fear that President Ravalomanana, who is vice-president of the powerful Reformed Church in Madagascar, will directly interfere with religious activities.


Over the years, opposition parties have accused the government of paralyzing local businesses such as the Savonnerie Tropicale and the Quartz company. The government would not be neutral vis-à-vis the various competitions between companies, which should rely only on themselves to ensure their management. Marc Ravalomanana is also singled out by the opposition for having “eliminated” the efficient Madagascan entrepreneurs, monopolized their business to place himself in all the profitable economic sectors.

The main problem is that incessant internal struggles combined with the age of the majority of elites neglecting their succession has created a political vacuum and brought a cruel lack of emulation. The electoral process is also strongly criticized by opponents, who would like to make significant improvements in order to avoid unrest during each presidential election. august 2008 The Ravalomanana government is waging an intense showdown with the urban municipality of Antananarivo led by the rebellious mayor of the capital Andry Rajoelina. Since the latter’s accession to this post, there has been successive confiscation of the municipality’s revenue by the Treasury, the withdrawal of the management of the Ampasapito bus station from the municipality, the withdrawal of sanitation management from the capital; on the other hand, we noted the absence of serious work on the part of the town hall and the flagrant degradation of the city.

November 2008

In July 2008, the Madagascan president sold a license to exploit 1.3 million hectares of land – half of the Malagasy arable land – for a period of ninety-nine years to the South Korean multinational Daewoo Logistics in order to supply South Korea in particular with corn. The information is revealed in November following the publication in the Financial Times relayed by other media of the world and sows the panic of the people in the capital as well as the anger and the fear of the invader contributing to bring to power Andry Rajoelina who denounces the agreement as unconstitutional in March 2009. December 2008 The Communication Minister of Marc Ravalomanana closes the Viva television channel of the mayor of Tananarive – Andry Rajoelina having broadcast a report on former President Ratsiraka (act prohibited by media laws and having not had the authorization of the Ministry of Telecommunications). Protests and demonstrations follow.

Political crisis of 2009

Following the closure of the Viva television channel of the opponent Andry Rajoelina, mayor of Antananarivo, violent demonstrations and riots shook the capital. On February 7, during the crowd’s assault on Ambohitsorohitra State Palace, the presidential guard opened fire, killing 28 demonstrators and injuring 212 others. On March 16, 2009, mutineer soldiers in support of Andry Rajoelina managed to take the Palace by force. Marc Ravalomanana is forced to resign from his post as President of the Republic, to transfer power to a military council, and must flee to South Africa. These changes are considered by the entire international community as a coup that France is the first to condemn. There followed a period of political and military tug-of-war between the contenders, supported by the armies, regular for one, mischievous for the other. Marc Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy finally met in August 2009, in the presence of representatives of the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), the International Organization of La Francophonie and the Community Africa Development Authority (SADC), for talks leading to the Maputo agreements, the name of the capital of Mozambique. On December 18, 2009, Andry Rajoelina denounced these Maputo agreements, changed Prime Minister and decided to precede the upcoming legislative elections by a referendum on a new constitution. The referendum finally takes place in November 2010.

Fourth Republic (since 2010)

By referendum of November 17, 2010 by direct universal suffrage, the population takes a YES or NO position on the change of the Constitution. This new constitution was proclaimed on December 11 of the same year, and brought the country into its fourth republic. The semi-presidential regime of the constitution of the Third Republic revised in 2007 is replaced by a semi-parliamentary regime, according to the 2010 constitution: “Art. 54: The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister, presented by the majority party or group of parties to the National Assembly “. In December 2013, the presidential and legislative elections were jointly organized in Madagascar. Hery Rajaonarimampianina is elected first president of the Fourth Republic, eliminating his opponent in the second round Jean-Louis Robinson. He is invested and sworn in Mahamasina on January 25, 2014. Jean-Omer Beriziky is still the head of government until April 16, 2014, where he is replaced by the Roger Kolo government. New change on January 17, 2015, where Jean Ravelonarivo became head of government. Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana replaced him on April 10, 2016, but to calm the riot-ridden country, he was forced to resign and replaced by Christian Ntsay on June 4, 2018. The December 2018 elections bring power to power for 5 years Andry Rajoelina. He also won the legislative elections of May 2019 and obtained absolute majority in the National Assembly.

Madagascar’s politics

Madagascar is a multi-party semi-presidential republic, where the president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. Executive power is in the hands of the government while legislative power is shared between the government and the two chambers of Parliament: the National Assembly and the Senate. The judiciary is independent of the first two. The current head of state is Andry Rajoelina elected by direct universal suffrage on December 19, 2018, for a 5-year term renewable once. He became the second elected president of the Fourth Republic of Madagascar and succeeded the interim of Prime Minister Christian Ntsay who was reappointed by the new president. The handover took place on January 19, 2019.

Madagascar’s economy

The creation of the euro favors the strength of the Malagasy currency, which remains independent from the currency of the former colonial metropolis (the French franc), against the monopoly of the previously strong reference US dollar. In May 2003, the Ariary replaced the Malagasy franc (FMG) as the currency in Madagascar. From this date, double labeling is applied in shops and markets until the official changeover, January 1, 2005. Since this date, only the ariary has official price in the country (1 ariary = 5 FMG) . Corruption is high in the country’s administrations. The Center for Research and Publications on Relations between the Third World and Europe (Cetim) denounces the “looting” of Madagascan natural resources, in particular by mining concessions and traffickers of precious woods. Free zones are also sources of immense profits for companies, at the expense of employees, often deprived of all rights.

Madagascar’s demography

The Malagasy population is mainly of Austronesian origin. The various successive waves of populations coming from all around the Indian Ocean were then grafted on this common fund and, in each region, the marriage of new arrivals with the first Austronesian inhabitants (Vazimbas and Vézos) leads to the current diversity . Despite the phenotypically visible differences, genetics show that the Austronesian fund is commonly shared to varying degrees depending on the regions and it is also culturally very significant (common language, common culinary traditions such as rice with beef or rice with fish, polyphony and rhythmic signature common in music, etc.).

Madagascar’s education

In 2013, around 35% of the adult population was illiterate. The literacy rate of young men is very slightly higher than that of young women. Public investment in education corresponds to 10.7% of government spending in the period 2009-2016. The share reserved for higher education in the public education budget plummeted from 32% in the early 1990s to around 13% in 2000. “A beginner’s assistant receives 300 euros and a full professor at the end of their career around 440 “Explains Émile Rakotomahanina Ralaisoa, former rector of the University of Antananarivo. Even if it is well above the local minimum wage, which is 28 euros per month, the profession remains underpaid. Current expenditure on primary education is around US $ 57 (purchasing power parity) per pupil.

Malagasy education system

Since 1972, national education in Madagascar has been dissociated from the French program, hence the distinction between national and international status. Two classes of schools appear: the Malagasy “State” schools and the French “diplomatic” schools. Malagasy becomes the official language in all schools and administrations. French becomes the first language taught and English the second. This intellectual revolution could not benefit from any preparatory year. No program for the creation of a teaching staff has been planned. Graduates are recruited by different army corps, with “discipline and country”, before becoming contract teachers for a maximum school year. In the early 1990s, private primary schools flourished here and there, claiming the French model of education. This is a hope to project towards Europe, for parents ready to sacrifice themselves in the payment of exorbitant school fees. In 2008 these schools multiplied in many cities.

National university centers and international schools

Each of the capitals of the six provinces has its own university, and there are: the University of Antananarivo, the University of Antsiranana, the University of Fianarantsoa, ​​the University of Mahajanga, the University of Toamasina, the University of Toliara. We also note: in Antananarivo: the National Institute of Accounting Sciences and Business Administration, and the Higher Institute of Technology. in Antsiranana: the Higher Institute of Technology (specialties: Telecommunications and Networks, Trade, Finance, Refrigeration and air conditioning, Electrical engineering), the Lycée Albert-Zafy, mixed (with half-board for girls), national teachers and French aid workers. the Lycée Sadi-Carnot, which has become a French lycée under agreement with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), with French National Education teachers.

Madagascar’s language

Malagasy is the national language of Madagascar but each region has its own non-common mother tongue, with its own non-common words even if they have the same meaning. What makes the dialogue testing between the high plateau and the coastal, or the extreme South and the extreme North. French is the second official language, spoken by around 20% of Malagasy people. According to the statistics of the Malagasy academy, throughout Madagascar, 0.57% of the Malagasy people speak only French, 15.87% speak it occasionally and 83.61% only know Malagasy. English was also the official language from 2007 to 2010. However, the new Constitution of November 2010 only mentions Malagasy (national language) and French as official languages, English having disappeared from the text. Despite the diversity of the population which is the source of the various languages ​​throughout the island, a common language has been formed: Malagasy (officially: Malagasy). Today it has become the official language of the country: it is the language of Imerina (Antananarivo and Ambohimanga region) which has been chosen as the official language due to a long tradition of writing dating back in the first half of the 19th century. Linguistically, the Malagasy is related to the Austronesian family. The Malagasy therefore belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian group of Western type. The first linguistic tools were created in 1828, but the first text was distributed in 1835. And the publication of the Malagasy Bible quickly imposed the model of a written language and a noble style. Malagasy manuscripts of the 19th century (especially royal speeches, genealogies, reports of events or important voyages) are relatively numerous, but many of them were destroyed at the time of the French colonial conquest. At the end of the Merina monarchy, there were a dozen periodicals published in Antananarivo, then the colonization of 1896 led to the suppression of the Madagascan press. However, the newspapers of the time had the habit of publishing in Malagasy poems and literary texts in prose (stories, fables, short stories, etc.). Today, the Madagascan press and literature seem to be alive and well. However, the Malagasy publishing market remains extremely limited due to the high cost of book manufacturing costs.