Country Profile


Madagascar is a large island (4th largest island in the world) located in the Indian Ocean about 450 km east of the coast of Mozambique. With an area of 587,041 km², Madagascar is larger than Japan and South Korea combined

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 most biodiverse locations and many of its plants and animals are unique to the island.

Population and origins

Despite its size Madagascar has a population of only around 22 million inhabitants.

It is inhabited by various ethnic groups of Malayo-Indonesian, mixed African and Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry.

Malayo-Indonesian seafarers were the first to start populating Madagascar in roughly the first century A.D. Arabs traders followed in the 6th century to establish trading posts.

Since the 16th century French and British influence left their mark.

In October 1958 the Malagasy Republic was proclaimed as an autonomous state within the French Community and gained full independence in June 1960.

Government & Economy

Like many former colonial countries Madagascar has been through various political states in the years following independence. Currently the country has achieved a level of political stability that is supportive of economic growth.

President Rajaonarimampianina and the government are receiving growing support and recognition by the United Nations and key sponsor countries including the United States, Russia, South Africa, China and the European Union.

Madagascar has a market economy supported by its well-established agricultural sector and emerging tourism, textile and mining industries. Malagasy agriculture produces tropical staple crops such as rice and cassava, beans and bananas, including cash crops such as vanilla, cloves, cacao, sugar, pepper and coffee.

Madagascar’s status as a developing nation exempts Malagasy exports from customs protocol in some areas, notably the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the European Union under the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement. These exemptions have supported the growth of the Malagasy textile industry.

Foreign Direct Investment in Natural Resources

Ambatovy Nickel-Cobalt mine: Ambatovy is a large-tonnage, long-life nickel and cobalt mining project owned by a consortium of Sherritt International, Sumitomo and Korea Resources invested. Total project costs are estimated to be more than US$ 8 billion making Ambatovy the largest-ever foreign investment in Madagascar – and one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean region.

At full production Ambatovy will have capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes of refined nickel, 5,600 tonnes of cobalt, and 210,000 tonnes of ammonium sulphate fertilizer per annum. This makes Ambatovy one of the world’s largest lateritic nickel mines.

QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM): QMM owns and operates a mineral sands mining project near Fort Dauphin on the south-eastern tip of Madagascar. QMM is 80% owned by Rio Tinto and 20% owned by the Government of Madagascar. Rio Tinto invested over US$1 billion in the development of the project and associated infrastructure, including a new port at Fort Dauphin. QMM plans to extract ilmenite and zircon from heavy mineral sands over an area of about 6,000 hectares along the coast during the next 40 years.

Wuhan Iron & Steel Co (WISCO): China’s third-largest steelmaker started has been exploring and apprising iron ore deposits in in Madagascar’s Soalala region since 2011. The Soala open-pit project is estimated at to contain 562 million tons of iron ore. Development of the mine will include construction of a new port in Soalala, approximately 450km north of Tsimiroro.

Aerial View of Madagascar
Madagascar Lemurs
Baobab Tree
Madagascar Landscape