Madagascar is an island country situated in Indian Ocean and the island consists of larger Madagascar Island and several smaller islands. The main island is ranked fourth among the largest islands of the world. The largest among the smaller islands of Madagascar are Nosy Boraha and Nosy Be. The capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo. Earliest settlers arrived in the island between 200 and 500 BCE. Kingdom of Madagascar was established by Merina nobles at the beginning of 19th century. During 1896-1960, the island was conquered and ruled by French colonial empire and Madagascar got independence in the year 1960 from France. At present, the country is under the rule of a caretaker government.
Madagascar is a semi-presidential democratic republic in which the President is the head of the state and Prime Minister is the head of the government. The executive power of the country is vested on the government and legislative power is exercised by the government, Senate and National Assembly. Judiciary system is independent from legislative and executive powers. The economy of Madagascar mainly depends on tourism, agricultural products, mining, light manufacturing exports and textiles. The country is largest producer of vanilla in the world.
The population of Madagascar is 20,653,556 and majority of the people are mixed Austronesian and African. The Malagasy ethnic group is sub-divided into more than sixteen sub-groups. Among the sub-groups, the largest are the Merina and Betsimisaraka. The official languages of the country are French and Malagasy. English is also widely spoken among the people. About 50% of the people are practicing traditional religion and 45% of the people are Christians. The major groups of Christians are Protestants and Catholics. Other religious minorities are Hinduism and Islam. Muslims are distributed among Indian, Comorian, Pakistani and Malagasy ethnicity. Hinduism is followed by Gujarati immigrants from India and they speak Hindi or Gujarati.
Madagascar is great tourist destination with its beaches, scenic views, flora and fauna, natural reserves, forests and volcanoes. Antananarivo, the capital of the island nation is a political, tourist and commercial center. The place has beautiful landscape and you can enjoy the traditions and culture of the people in Madagascar by staying there. Nosy Be is the resort area with un-crowded beaches and excellent scenic views. Nosy Be offers snorkeling and diving opportunities to the tourists. The port town of Tulear also has excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving. In Tulear, you can also find a cultural museum.
Toamasina is also a port town with ancient colonial buildings and ruins. Toamasina was the enclave of pirates. Canal Des Pangalanes is a canal constructed by French that connect several rivers and lakes of eastern shore of the country. Antsirabe is famous for old volcanic crater lakes and thermal spas which are worth watching. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park has Indris, the largest species of Lemur family and the park also consists of orchids, beautiful birds and other animal species. Mahahjanga is a place where you can find great beaches and the tourists can enjoy adventurous sports like snorkeling, diving and hiking.