At Andavakoera in the northwest, settlements from the 700s have been found, but occasional findings and pollen analyzes suggest human presence in Madagascar at the beginning of our era. However, archaeological sources have so far not been able to answer how the island has gained its current Afro-Asian population. A likely hypothesis is that groups of Malaysian seafarers from Indonesia via India reached the east coast of Africa and where mixed with Africans before reaching Madagascar.

Around the year 1000, the colonization of the highlands began to form the core of the later kingdom of Merina. At the same time, contacts were maintained with the trading network across the Indian Ocean.

  • Countryaah: Check to see the location of Madagascar on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Madagascar.


When Europeans from around 1500 found the seaways to India, Madagascar was involved in the trade of slaves and firearms. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Madagascar. As a result, some of the Malagasy kingdoms were given resources for expansion. Thus, from the beginning of the 17th century the Sakalavad dynasty conquered the western and northern parts of the island. In the highlands of the interior, the small kingdom of Merina began to expand, but still reached the middle of the 18th century only a few miles outside the capital Antananarivo. The Great Age began with the Andrian Ammunition (1787–90, ‘the prince Merina wants’), whose train mainly headed south. Under his son Radama I (1810–28), the expansion reached the eastern coast of the island. Merina became the dominant power of Madagascar, however, without ever effectively mastering all of its parts.

History of Madagascar

Under Radama, European influence began to assert itself with full force in all areas. Protestant English missionaries set up schools and scripted the Malagasy language. A reaction against Europeanization was put under Radama’s widow, Queen Ranavalona I (1778-1861), but despite the isolationist policy, French entrepreneurs were able to lay the foundations for industries on the island. After the Queen’s death, the gates were reopened at the gable for Western influence. For three decades (1864–95), Madagascar was led by Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (1828–96). He represented a new era by belonging to the peasant class (homeland), not the traditional nobility, and by transitioning to Christianity, which became a state religion.

French colony

The attempt to make Madagascar equal to Europe failed. French pressure grew, and after a war a French protectorate was established over the island in 1895. In 1896 Madagascar became a French colony, and the Merina kingdom was abolished, but not until the 20th century was the occupation fully completed.

During the First World War, a national protest movement arose against colonial rule. It grew during the interwar period. The British occupation of Madagascar during the Second World War then undermined the prestige of the French. In the years 1947-48, a rebellion broke out, which was stifled bloody (about 90,000 Madagascans are estimated to have been killed). A Social Democratic Party under Philibert Tsiranana (1912–78) now took the lead in the struggle for independence, and when the Autonomous Malagasy Republic was proclaimed in 1958, Tsiranana became its first president. The remaining political ties with France were broken in 1960.

The Independent Madagascar

Tsiranana pursued a socialist but Western-oriented foreign policy. Under the pressure of growing opposition, he left the presidential post in 1972. After a few years of unstable military junta, Commander Didier Ratsiraka assumed power and reversed his course toward a strong nationalist but eastern state-oriented policy. Banks and natural resources were nationalized, access to basic supplies improved and Madagascar’s history and language were emphasized. In the 1990s, Ratsiraka, in turn, faced increasing opposition. The riots in the capital forced concessions in the direction of multi-party democracy and market economy.

In the 1992 presidential election, opposition leader Albert Zafy (1927–2017) triumphed after a stormy electoral movement with armed clashes and attempts by several provinces to become independent. The June 1993 parliamentary elections resulted in an unstable National Assembly and a series of weak governments. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with Zafy increased, and in July 1996 he was deposed by the National Assembly for violating the Constitution. Zafy was nevertheless allowed to stand in the new election that year, but Didier Ratsiraka won by just over 50 percent of the votes in the second round and withdrew power.

After major changes in the constitution were adopted by an extremely small majority in a referendum in March 1998, the L’Avant-Garde de la Revolution Malgache (AREMA) regained control of the National Assembly in general elections in May of that year. Madagascar’s first municipal election under the new constitution was conducted in November 1999 and resulted in, among other things, the successful but party-politically unbundled business leader Marc Ravalomananawas elected mayor of the capital Antananarivo. He ran for president in December 2001 and was backed by a series of opposition parties. According to the official results, Ravalomanana received just over 46 percent of the votes in the first round, compared to just under 41 percent for Ratsiraka, and a second round was announced. However, Ravalomanana’s own election observers claimed that he had received 52 percent and would rightly be appointed president, which, however, the Constitutional Court rejected. After eight weeks of demonstrations in Antananarivo in support of Ravalomanana, he proclaimed president in February 2002 and began appointing his own government.

While in vain the OAU (Organization of African Unity) tried to achieve a unifying government, the coastal provinces declared themselves loyal to Ratsiraka and blocked the roads to the metropolitan region. In several places, there were fights between the rival political camps. In April, the Supreme Court rejected the Constitutional Court and ordered recalculation of the votes, after which Ravalomanana was declared victor with just over 51 percent. He was installed in the office a second time on May 6, 2002, and then ordered a military offensive against the provinces ruled by Ratsiraka. In July, the new government took control of the country, and Ratsiraka fled. Among other things, at the request of Madagascar’s donor donor, the National Assembly was dissolved and a new election was held in December 2002, thereby strengthening Ravalomanana’s legitimacy by his support partyTiako in Madagasikara (TIM; ‘I love Madagascar’) received 104 of the 160 seats. TIM also dominated the local elections in November 2003.

Already in 2004, however, Ravalomanana’s position began to falter since two cyclones caused devastation and food shortages, which led to sharp price increases. Fuel shortages and a sharp fall in prices for the important export vanilla increased the population’s economic problems and diluted the discontent. However, Ravalomanana was re-elected in 2006 and TIM retained its strong position in parliament in 2007. However, when the president decided to lease vast agricultural areas to the South Korean group of Daewoo, dissatisfaction in 2009 grew into a revolt that forced him to surrender power to the military.

The uprising was led by Antananarivo’s only 34-year-old Mayor Andry Rajoelina, who was given the military’s mission to take over the leadership. The country’s constitutional court approved the coup de force, but most international organizations suspended Madagascar’s membership and punished the country with financial penalties. After lengthy negotiations, the major parties agreed to form a unifying government, but the agreement soon ended on disagreement over the allocation of ministerial posts.

Rajoelina formed a government on her own and appointed a provisional parliament and, through a 2010 referendum, approved a new constitution, where the minimum age allowed for the president was lowered from 40 years to 35 years. Only in 2014 did the country regain a people-elected president since the former finance minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina in December 2013 gained a majority in the second round of the presidential election. In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, the newly formed party Miaraka amin’i Prezida Andry Rajoelina (MAPAR, ‘With President Andry Rajoelina’) received the most seats, but without obtaining his own majority. With a legitimate government in place, Madagascar was once again welcomed by the African Union (AU), and both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) resumed their budget support to the government.

Rajoelina resumed the post after 2018 and his party, which changed its name to Isika rehetra miaraka amin’i Andry Rajoelina (‘We All With Andry Rajoelina’), was clearly the biggest in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

History of Madagascar
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