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Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained independence 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 achieved a second term following a landslide victory in the generally free and fair presidential elections of 2006. In early 2009, protests over increasing restrictions on opposition press and activities resulted in RAVALOMANANA stepping down and the presidency was conferred to the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry RAJOELINA. Numerous attempts have been made by regional and international organizations to resolve the subsequent political gridlock by forming a power-sharing government. In late 2011, RAJOELINA appointed a new cabinet, and the country appeared to be moving towards new elections sometime in 2012.


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Geography

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

Geographic coordinates
20 00 S, 47 00 E

Map references
Africa

Area World Ranking: 47
Total 587,041 sq km
Land 581,540 sq km
Water 5,501 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

Land boundaries
0 km

Coastline
4,828 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Continental shelf
200 nm or 100 nm from the 2,500-m isobath

Climate
Tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south

Terrain
Narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point Maromokotro 2,876 m

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

Land use
Arable land 5.03%
Permanent crops 1.02%
Other 93.95% (2005)

Irrigated land
10,860 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
337 cu km (1984)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 14.96 cu km/yr (3%/2%/96%)
Per capita 804 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Periodic cyclones; drought; and locust infestation
Volcanism
Madagascar's volcanoes have not erupted in historical times

Environment - current issues
Soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island

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

Geography - note
World's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel


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  Madagascar (Antananarivo):


  GPS points from Madagascar (Antananarivo)

Mahasoa Toliara

Morarano Antananarivo

Sahasondraka Fianarantsoa

Lavarojo Antsiranana

Ampondrangodona Mahajanga

Voditanjona Fianarantsoa

Ambodiara Toamasina

Sandrakazo Toamasina




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