Cruising to Madagascar


Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its 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.


Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 587,040 sq 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 deep isobath


Tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south


Narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m


Having discarded past socialist economic policies, Madagascar has since the mid 1990s followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization. This strategy placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population.

Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the United States. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns. President RAVALOMANANA has worked aggressively to revive the economy following the 2002 political crisis, which triggered a 12% drop in GDP that year. Poverty reduction and combating corruption will be the centerpieces of economic policy for the next few years.


Airports: 116 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 29
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 87
Railways: total: 732 km
Roadways: total: 49,827 km


600 km (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 9 ships (1000 GRT or over) 13,896 GRT/18,466 DWT
By type: cargo 7, petroleum tanker 2
Registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara


Claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island (all administered by France).

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Bahrain - Christmas Islands - Cocos Keeling - Comoros - Djibouti - Eritrea - India - Jordan - Kenya - Kuwait - Madagascar - Maldives - Mauritius - Mayotte - Mozambique - Oman - Pakistan - Qatar - Reunion Island - Saudi Arabia - Seychelles - Somalia - Sri Lanka - Sudan - Tanzania - United Arab Emirates - Yemen

Further Reading

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