The location, widespread nature, and number of fires (outlined in red) in this satellite image suggest that these blazes were deliberately set to manage land. Farmers often use fire to return nutrients to the soil and to clear the ground of unwanted plants. While fire helps enhance crops and grasses for pasture, the fires also produce smoke that degrades air quality. In Mozambique and Madagascar, the growing season runs from the first rains in October-November. Thus, the clearing of lands in this early September image heralds the new growing season. Much of the once-green isle of Madagascar has been deforested via a combination of slash and burn agriculture for rice cultivation and doro-tanetry, a less intensive burning used to augment grass growth for cattle grazing. The fires mostly burn in grass or cropland, which is tan in this image. Photo courtesy of NASA.
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Madagascar was one of the last major habitable landmasses on earth settled by humans. While there is some evidence of human presence on the island in the millennia B.C., large-scale settlement began between A.D. 350 and 550 with settlers from present-day Indonesia. The island attracted Arab and Persian traders as early as the 7th century, and migrants from Africa arrived around A.D. 1000. Madagascar was a pirate stronghold during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and served as a slave trading center into the 19th century. From the 16th to the late 19th century, a native Merina Kingdom dominated much of Madagascar. The island was conquered by the French in 1896 who made it a colony; independence was regained 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, 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 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. RAVALOMANANA won a second term in 2006 but, following protests in 2009, handed over power to the military, which then conferred the presidency on the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry RAJOELINA, in what amounted to a coup d'etat. Following a lengthy mediation process led by the Southern African Development Community, Madagascar held UN-supported presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013. Former de facto finance minister Hery RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA won a runoff election in December 2013 and was inaugurated in January 2014. In January 2019, RAJOELINA was declared the winner of a runoff election against RAVALOMANANA; both RATSIRAKA and RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA also ran in the first round of the election, which took place in November 2018.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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

Geographic coordinates

20 00 S, 47 00 E


total: 587,041 sq km

land: 581,540 sq km

water: 5,501 sq km

country comparison to the world: 49

Area - comparative

almost four times the size of Georgia; slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

<p>almost four times the size of Georgia; slightly less than twice the size of Arizona</p>

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


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


tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south


narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center


highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 615 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 71.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 64.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 21.5% (2018 est.)

other: 7.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

10,860 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of population lives on the eastern half of the island; significant clustering is found in the central highlands and eastern coastline as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic cyclones; drought; and locust infestation

volcanism: Madagascar's volcanoes have not erupted in historical times

Geography - note

world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel; despite Madagascar’s close proximity to the African continent, ocean currents isolate the island resulting in high rates of endemic plant and animal species; approximately 90% of the flora and fauna on the island are found nowhere else

People and Society


noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)

adjective: Malagasy

Ethnic groups

Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran


Malagasy (official) 99.9%, French (official) 23.6%, English 8.2%, other 0.6% (2018 est.)

note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census


Christian, indigenous, Muslim

Demographic profile

Madagascar’s youthful population – just over 60% are under the age of 25 – and high total fertility rate of more than 4 children per women ensures that the Malagasy population will continue its rapid growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Many young Malagasy girls are withdrawn from school, marry early (often pressured to do so by their parents), and soon begin having children. Early childbearing, coupled with Madagascar’s widespread poverty and lack of access to skilled health care providers during delivery, increases the risk of death and serious health problems for young mothers and their babies.

Child marriage perpetuates gender inequality and is prevalent among the poor, the uneducated, and rural households – as of 2013, of Malagasy women aged 20 to 24, more than 40% were married and more than a third had given birth by the age of 18. Although the legal age for marriage is 18, parental consent is often given for earlier marriages or the law is flouted, especially in rural areas that make up nearly 65% of the country. Forms of arranged marriage whereby young girls are married to older men in exchange for oxen or money are traditional. If a union does not work out, a girl can be placed in another marriage, but the dowry paid to her family diminishes with each unsuccessful marriage.

Madagascar’s population consists of 18 main ethnic groups, all of whom speak the same Malagasy language. Most Malagasy are multi-ethnic, however, reflecting the island’s diversity of settlers and historical contacts (see Background). Madagascar’s legacy of hierarchical societies practicing domestic slavery (most notably the Merina Kingdom of the 16th to the 19th century) is evident today in persistent class tension, with some ethnic groups maintaining a caste system. Slave descendants are vulnerable to unequal access to education and jobs, despite Madagascar’s constitutional guarantee of free compulsory primary education and its being party to several international conventions on human rights. Historical distinctions also remain between central highlanders and coastal people.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.86% (male 5,278,838/female 5,196,036)

15-24 years: 20.06% (male 2,717,399/female 2,689,874)

25-54 years: 33.02% (male 4,443,147/female 4,456,691)

55-64 years: 4.6% (male 611,364/female 627,315)

65 years and over: 3.47% (male 425,122/female 509,951) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Madagascar. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75.9

youth dependency ratio: 70.5

elderly dependency ratio: 5.5

potential support ratio: 18.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 20.3 years

male: 20.1 years

female: 20.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 193

Birth rate

29.22 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Death rate

6.09 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 153

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Population distribution

most of population lives on the eastern half of the island; significant clustering is found in the central highlands and eastern coastline as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 39.2% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.26% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

3.532 million ANTANANARIVO (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.5 years (2008/09 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality ratio

335 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Infant mortality rate

total: 39.82 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 43.06 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 36.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 67.86 years

male: 66.54 years

female: 69.22 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 87.9% of population

rural: 36.3% of population

total: 55.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 12.1% of population

rural: 63.7% of population

total: 44.5% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.18 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

0.2 beds/1,000 population

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 42.5% of population

rural: 16.6% of population

total: 26.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 57.5% of population

rural: 83.4% of population

total: 73.9% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 76.7%

male: 78.4%

female: 75.1% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 10 years

female: 10 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 3.4%

male: 3.9%

female: 3% (2015 est.)


Environment - current issues

erosion and soil degredation results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; agricultural fires; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; wildlife preservation (endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island)

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 21.44 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 3.91 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 10.14 megatons (2020 est.)


tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south

Land use

agricultural land: 71.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 64.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 21.5% (2018 est.)

other: 7.4% (2018 est.)


urban population: 39.2% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 4.26% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to drought in southern areas and limited income-earning opportunities - an estimated 1.14 million people are food insecure in southern and southeastern regions and require urgent humanitarian assistance; the effects of a severe drought on agricultural production in 2021 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the loss of incomes due to the economic slowdown, are the key drivers of food insecurity (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 3,768,759 tons (2016 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 395 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 161.9 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 13 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

337 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Madagascar

conventional short form: Madagascar

local long form: Republique de Madagascar/Repoblikan'i Madagasikara

local short form: Madagascar/Madagasikara

former: Malagasy Republic

etymology: the name "Madageiscar" was first used by the 13th-century Venetian explorer Marco POLO, as a corrupted transliteration of Mogadishu, the Somali port with which POLO confused the island

Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Antananarivo

geographic coordinates: 18 55 S, 47 31 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name, which means "City of the Thousand," was bestowed by 17th century King Adrianjakaking to honor the soldiers assigned to guard the city

Administrative divisions

6 provinces (faritany); Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara


26 June 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 June (1960)


history: previous 1992; latest passed by referendum 17 November 2010, promulgated 11 December 2010

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic in consultation with the cabinet or supported by a least two thirds of both the Senate and National Assembly membership; passage requires at least three-fourths approval of both the Senate and National Assembly and approval in a referendum; constitutional articles, including the form and powers of government, the sovereignty of the state, and the autonomy of Madagascar’s collectivities, cannot be amended

Legal system

civil law system based on the old French civil code and customary law in matters of marriage, family, and obligation

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Madagascar; in the case of a child born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Andry RAJOELINA (since 21 January 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Christian NTSAY (since 6 June 2018 and re-appointed 19 July 2019) 

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister 

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 November and 19 December 2018 (next to be held in 2023); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly, appointed by the president

election results: Andry RAJOELINA elected President in second round; percent of vote - Andry RAJOELINA (TGV) 55.7%, Marc RAVALOMANANA 44.3% (TIM)

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate or Antenimieran-Doholona (reestablished on 22 January 2016, following the December 2015 senatorial election) (63 seats; 42 members indirectly elected by an electoral college of municipal, communal, regional, and provincial leaders and 21 appointed by the president of the republic; members serve 5-year terms); note - in December 2020 Pres RAJOELINA ordered that the senate now have only 18 seats, 6 of which are appointed by the president, the remaining 12 indirectly elected by an electoral college of municipal, communal, regional, and provincial leaders; opposition parties' boycotted this legislative election 
National Assembly or Antenimierampirenena (151 seats; 87 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 64 directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by closed-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held 29 December 2015 (next to be held in 2021)
National Assembly - last held on 27 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - HVM 34, TIM 3, MAPAR 2, LEADER-Fanilo 1, independent 2, appointed by the president 21; composition - men 51, women 12, percent of women 19%
National Assembly - percent of vote by party -Independent Pro-HVM 18%, MAPAR 17%, MAPAR pro-HVM 16%, VPM-MMM 10%, VERTS 3%, LEADER FANILO 3%, HIARAKA ISIKA 3%, GPS/ARD 7%,  INDEPENDENT 9%, TAMBATRA 1%, TIM 13%;  composition - men 120, women 31, percent of women 20.5%; note - total National Assembly percent of women 20.1%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of 11 members; addresses judicial administration issues only); High Constitutional Court or Haute Cour Constitutionnelle (consists of 9 members); note - the judiciary includes a High Court of Justice responsible for adjudicating crimes and misdemeanors by government officials, including the president

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court heads elected by the president and judiciary officials to serve 3-year, single renewable terms; High Constitutional Court members appointed - 3 each by the president, by both legislative bodies, and by the Council of Magistrates; members serve single, 7-year terms

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance

Political parties and leaders

Economic liberalism and democratic action for national recovery or LEADER FANILO [Jean Max RAKOTOMAMONJY]
Gideons fighting against poverty in Madagascar (Gedeona Miady amin'ny Fahantrana eto Madagascar) or GFFM [Andre Christian Dieu Donne MAILHOL]
Green party or VERTS (Antoko Maintso) [Alexandre GEORGET]
I Love Madagascar (Tiako I Madagasikara) or TIM [Marc RAVALOMANANA]
Malagasy aware (Malagasy Tonga Saina) or MTS [Roland RATSIRAKA]
Malagasy raising together (Malagasy Miara-Miainga) or MMM [Hajo ANDRIANAINARIVELO]
New Force for Madagascar (Hery Vaovao ho an'ny Madagasikara) or HVM [Hery Martial RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA Rakotoarimanana]
Total Refoundation of Madagascar (Refondation Totale de Madagascar) or RTM [Joseph Martin RANDRIAMAMPIONONA]
Vanguard for the renovation of Madagascar (Avant-Garde pour la renovation de Madagascar) or AREMA [Didier RATSIRAKA]
Young Malagasies Determined (Malagasy: Tanora malaGasy Vonona) or TGV [Andry RAJOELINA]and MAPAR [Andry RAJOELINA], and IRD (We are all with Andy Rajoelina) [Andry RAJOELINA]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission:

Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Amielle Pelenne NIRINIAVISOA MARCEDA (since 31 October 2019)

chancery: 2374 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 265-5525

FAX: [1] (202) 265-3034

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Amy J. HYATT (since June 2021)

embassy: Lot 207A, Andranoro, Antehiroka, 105 Antananarivo

mailing address: 2040 Antananarivo Place, Washington  DC 20521-2040

telephone: [261] 20-23-480-00

FAX: [261] 20-23-480-35

email address and website:

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a vertical white band of the same width on hoist side; by tradition, red stands for sovereignty, green for hope, white for purity

National symbol(s)

traveller's palm, zebu; national colors: red, green, white

National anthem

name: "Ry Tanindraza nay malala o" (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)

lyrics/music: Pasteur RAHAJASON/Norbert RAHARISOA

note: adopted 1959


Economic overview

Madagascar is a mostly unregulated economy with many untapped natural resources, but no capital markets, a weak judicial system, poorly enforced contracts, and rampant government corruption. The country faces challenges to improve education, healthcare, and the environment to boost long-term economic growth. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by bushfires, slash-and-burn clearing techniques, and the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns to the agriculture dependent economy.

After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization until a 2009 coup d’état led many nations, including the United States, to suspend non-humanitarian aid until a democratically-elected president was inaugurated in 2014. The pre-coup strategy had placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low starting point. Exports of apparel boomed after gaining duty-free access to the US market in 2000 under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); however, Madagascar's failure to comply with the requirements of the AGOA led to the termination of the country's duty-free access in January 2010, a sharp fall in textile production, a loss of more than 100,000 jobs, and a GDP drop of nearly 11%.

Madagascar regained AGOA access in January 2015 and ensuing growth has been slow and fragile. Madagascar produces around 80% of the world’s vanilla and its reliance on this commodity for most of its foreign exchange is a significant source of vulnerability. Economic reforms have been modest and the country’s financial sector remains weak, limiting the use of monetary policy to control inflation. An ongoing IMF program aims to strengthen financial and investment management capacity.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$41.82 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$43.65 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$41.81 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 117

Real GDP growth rate

4.2% (2017 est.)

4.2% (2016 est.)

3.1% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Real GDP per capita

$1,500 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$1,600 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$1,600 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 221

GDP (official exchange rate)

$13.964 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

5.6% (2019 est.)

8.6% (2018 est.)

8.5% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24% (2017 est.)

industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)

services: 56.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 67.1% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 11.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 15.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 8.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 31.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -33.7% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, sugar cane, cassava, sweet potatoes, milk, vegetables, bananas, mangoes/guavas, tropical fruit, potatoes


meat processing, seafood, soap, beer, leather, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism, mining

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.2%

highest 10%: 34.7% (2010 est.)


revenues: 1.828 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.136 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

36% of GDP (2017 est.)

38.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$35 million (2017 est.)

$57 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77


$4.09 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$4.41 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

$4.839 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Exports - partners

United States 19%, France 18%, United Arab Emirates 7%, China 6%, Japan 6%, Germany 5%, India 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

vanilla, nickel, gold, clothing and apparel, gemstones (2019)


$4.7 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$4.82 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

$5.796 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Imports - partners

China 24%, France 11%, United Arab Emirates 9%, India 7%, South Africa 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, rice, cars, packaged medicines, clothing and apparel (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$1.076 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 124

Debt - external

$3.085 billion (2019 est.)

$4.107 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 142

Exchange rates

Malagasy ariary (MGA) per US dollar -

3,116.1 (2017 est.)

3,176.5 (2016 est.)

3,176.5 (2015 est.)

2,933.5 (2014 est.)

2,414.8 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 39% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 64% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 23% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 69,046 (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 10,654,710 (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 40.57 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 84

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: penetration rates below African average; competition among mobile service providers has spurred recent growth in the mobile market and reduced consumer costs; 3G and LTE services available; fiber backbone connects major cities with wireless networks upgraded to LTE; government committed to free WiFi hotspots to ensure universal access; telecom service tax raised to 10%; investment in submarine cable to South Africa and Mauritius; importer of broadcasting and video equipment from China (2020)

domestic: less than 1 per 100 for fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity about 41 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 261; landing points for the EASSy, METISS, and LION fiber-optic submarine cable systems connecting to numerous Indian Ocean Islands, South Africa, and Eastern African countries; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

state-owned Radio Nationale Malagasy (RNM) and Television Malagasy (TVM) have an extensive national network reach; privately owned radio and TV broadcasters in cities and major towns; state-run radio dominates in rural areas; relays of 2 international broadcasters are available in Antananarivo (2019)

Internet users

total: 5.45 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 9.8% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 88

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 27,211 (2018)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 18

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 541,290 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.25 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 26

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 6

914 to 1,523 m: 16

under 914 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 57

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 38

under 914 m: 18 (2013)


total: 836 km (2018)

narrow gauge: 836 km 1.000-m gauge (2018)

country comparison to the world: 97


600 km (432 km navigable) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 79

Merchant marine

total: 27

by type: general cargo 14, oil tanker 2, other 11 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 137

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara (Tulear)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

People's Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force; National Gendarmerie (operates under the Ministry of Defense); Ministry of Public Security: National Police (2021)

note - the National Gendarmerie is responsible for maintaining law and order in rural areas at the village level, protecting government facilities, and operating a maritime police contingent; the National Police is responsible for maintaining law and order in urban areas; the military is also active in rural areas, particularly in maintaining order in areas affected by cattle rustling and banditry

Military expenditures

0.8% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.6% of GDP (2019)

0.6% of GDP (2018)

0.6% of GDP (2017)

0.6% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 143

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Peoples Armed Forces (PAF) have approximately 13,000 personnel (12,000 Army; 500 Navy; 500 Air Force); est. 10,000 Gendarmerie (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the PAF's inventory consists mostly of aging Soviet-era equipment; since 2010, it has received limited amounts of second-hand equipment from France, South Africa, and UAE (2021)

Military service age and obligation

Madagascar has an all-volunteer military; 18-25 years of age for males; service obligation 18 months; women are permitted to serve in all branches (2021)

Military - note

one of the military’s duties is assisting the gendarmerie with maintaining law and order in rural areas, particularly in areas affected by cattle rustling and banditry (2021)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island (all administered by France); the vegetated drying cays of Banc du Geyser, which were claimed by Madagascar in 1976, also fall within the EEZ claims of the Comoros and France (Glorioso Islands, part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands)

Illicit drugs

illicit producer of cannabis (cultivated and wild varieties) used mostly for domestic consumption; transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin