Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
On October 14, 1958, Madagascar was proclaimed an autonomous state within the French community. This provisional government ended in 1959 with the adoption of a new constitution and on June 26, 1960, gained full independence.
After Madagascar gained its independence, assassinations, military coups and disputed elections followed.
In a military coup in 1975, Didier Ratsiraka took power and ruled until 2001, except for a short period of time when he was ousted in the early 1990’s. In the presidential elections in December, 2001, both Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana claimed victory. Eight months later, following violence and economic disruption, a recount was held and Ravalomanana was declared president.
In January 2009, a power struggle began between Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo. On March 17, 2009 Ravalomanana resigned and assigned his powers to a military council loyal to him. The military supported Rajoelina and called Ravalomanana’s move a ploy.
The European Union, along with other international entities, refuses to recognize the new government.
Two-thirds of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. In 2000, Madagascar embarked on a poverty reduction strategy. Its sources of growth are light manufacturing, tourism and textile. It is the world’s leading producer and exporter of vanilla. The tourism marketing focuses on the eco-tourism with its biodiversity, natural habitats and lemurs.