Madagascar is a large African island in the Indian Ocean, about 450 km east of the coast of Mozambique. Madagascar is the world’s 4th largest island, also known as the Red Island, the Rainbow Island, and the Eighth Continent.
Many of its plants and animals are unique to the island. The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent, Gondwana, separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass from the Africa-South America landmass around 135 million years ago. Madagascar later split from India about 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in relative isolation. The island is recognized as one of the world’s top ten hotspots for biodiversity.
With an area of 587,041 km², Madagascar is almost twice the size of the
United Kingdom and the island has a population of more than 22 million inhabitants. The capital city of Madagascar is Antananarivo. Madagascar is inhabited by various ethnic groups of Malayo-Indonesian, mixed African and Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry. Five centuries before the Europeans discovered the island Malayo-Indonesian seafarers arrived in roughly the first century A.D., the Arabs followed in the 6th century to establish trading posts.
Since the 16th century French and British influence left its mark. In October 1958 the Malagasy Republic was proclaimed as an autonomous state within the French Community and gained full independence in June 1960.
Like many former colonial countries Madagascar went through various political states like uprisings, provisional governments, single-party rule, socialist economic policies, and threat of secession. Today the country is on a slow and steady economical and political growth path.