Madagascar Profile

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General Facts:

Population: 22.92 million (2013) World Bank,

Official Languages : Malagasy, French

Capital: Antananarivo

Cities : Antananarivo, Toamasina, Antsirabe, Mahajanga, Fianarantsoa, Toliara, Antsiranana.

Area: 226, 657 mi²

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Beaches

Madagascar offers an ‘alternative’ beach holiday destination. Whilst Madagascar’s wildlife may be the main draw, the 1,800 miles of beautiful beaches, palm-fringed shoreline, numerous off-shore islands and coral reefs give you a variety of beach options– whether your focus is a beach holiday or if you would prefer to combine wildlife with a few days of relaxation at the end of your holiday.

 

Currency: Malagasy Ariary

 

Crime & Security:
Crime is widespread in Madagascar. Be vigilant in the capital Antananarivo particularly on the Avenue de L’Independence, Ambohijatovo, Analakely, Bohorika, Isoraka Ampasamandinika, 67ha, Analakely and around the military barracks at Betongolo.
Be especially vigilant at night and don’t touch any suspect packages.
Be vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around the country, in particular if you’re travelling alone. If you’re travelling independently, monitor the local media closely for the duration of your visit,There is a low threat from terrorism.

Madagascar Police Service can be reached on 17 or 117 by mobile phones. 

Madagascar Police Service Stations Numbers:  Police stations
Antananarivo: +261 20 22 227 35/36 – +261 20 22 357 09/10 – +261 20 22 281 70; Diego Suarez: +261 34 05 998 59
Mahajanga: +261 20 62 229 32 – +261 34 05 998 66
Toliara/Tuléar: +261 34 05 998 78
Fort Dauphin: +261 34 05 529 46
Morondava: +261 34 05 529 94
Antsirabé: +261 20 44 480 33 – +261 34 05 998 83
Fianarantsoa: +261 20 75 943 75 – +261 34 05 998 71
Tamatave: +261 20 53 320 17/305 78 – +261 34 05 998 54

Economy
The economy of Madagascar is a market economy and is supported by Madagascar’s well-established agricultural industry and emerging tourism, textile and mining industries. Malagasy agriculture produces tropical staple crops such as rice and cassava, as well as cash crops such as vanilla and coffee. Madagascar’s wealth of natural resources supports its sizable mining industry. Additionally, Madagascar’s status as a developing nation exempts Malagasy exports from customs protocol in some areas, notably the United States and European Union. These exemptions have supported the growth of the Malagasy textile industry. Despite Madagascar’s natural resources and developing industries, the 2009 Malagasy political crisis—considered by the international community to be an illegal coup deterred foreign investments in Madagascar and caused the Malagasy economy to decline.Foreign investments have resumed following the resumption of elections in early 2014.

Education in Madagascar
Over the past decade Madagascar has shown some important steps towards reaching its goal of primary education for all by 2015 – but challenges remain.
Beneath rising primary school attendance figures lies an education system that still does not meet the needs of many school children in Madagascar. Out of 100 children who enter the first grade only about 60 complete their primary school education, and repetititon rates are high. Although 49 percent of primary school children are girls, 78 percent of Madagascar’s school districts show girls’ enrolment lower than that of boys. The local realities for girls vary throughout the country – in some regions girls are much less likely to be enrolled in school and are less likely to complete the primary cycle than boys.
The situation is worse in lower secondary. In districts where the gender gap is greatest, there are barely 5 girls enrolled for every 10 boys. Considerable efforts are still needed to give girls the same opportunity for education as boys.
Poverty increases the likelihood of children not attending school – especially if they are needed to work to help supplement household income. Public budgets have also been cut, depleting much needed public funds for education.

Food:

Malagasy cuisine encompasses the many diverse culinary traditions of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Foods eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have settled on the island since it was first populated by seafarers from Borneo between 100 CE and 500 CE. Rice, the cornerstone of the Malagasy diet, was cultivated alongside tubers and other Southeast Asian staples by these earliest settlers.
The range of dishes eaten in Madagascar in the 21st century offers insight into the island’s unique history and the diversity of the peoples who inhabit it today. The complexity of Malagasy meals can range from the simple, traditional preparations introduced by the earliest settlers, to the refined festival dishes prepared for the island’s 19th-century monarchs. Although the classic Malagasy meal of rice and its accompaniment remains predominant, over the past 100 years other food types and combinations have been popularized by French colonists and immigrants from China and India. Consequently, Malagasy cuisine is traditional while also assimilating newly emergent cultural influences.

HIV/Aids

Madagascar, and the neighbouring islands states of Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles, are anomalies in the context of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Prevalence is very low – around 0.37 percent, or 24,000 confirmed cases – and restricted to a few sections of the population.
Recent research has revealed that the groups most infected are men having sex with men (14 percent), intravenous drug users (7 percent) and prison populations. HIV prevalence among female commercial sex workers is relatively low.
In the Indian Ocean islands, HIV and AIDS is a condition very few people have seen. It’s not like the African mainland, where everyone knows someone who has it. As a result, many people here are not convinced of the danger of AIDS. This includes the leaders.

Malaria Prevention

Whether you take oral prophylaxis or not, avoid being outside at night as far as possible as the anopheles mosquito, which carries malaria, operates almost exclusively after dark. Always use mosquito repellent, wear light-coloured long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed shoes at night, and sleep under a mosquito net in endemic areas.

Political System
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Madagascar has experienced repeated political instability, including coups, violent unrest and disputed elections.
The most recent coup in 2009 led to five years of political deadlock, international condemnation and economic sanctions. Despite the return of democratic elections in 2013, the political situation remains fragile.

Smoking
By official law, smoking is prohibited in taxi-brousses, but this is not enforced. The only transport environments in which smoking is prohibited are Antananarivo International Airport and on Air Madagascar flights. It is also forbidden to smoke in pubs and clubs.

 Transport


Air
Air Madagascar operates flights from the capital city to Diego Suarez, Majunga, Nosy Be, Ile Sainte Marie, Tamatave, Tulear and Fort Dauphin most days. Less regular Air Madagascar services connect a further half dozen towns across the country.
No other airlines provide scheduled domestic flights, but five or six charter companies have light aircraft and helicopters for passenger transfers to more than 80 airstrips nationwide.
Nosy Be and Ile Sainte Marie are islands and are most readily accessed by air. On the mainland, some towns are not easily accessible overland. As such, most people prefer to fly to Fort Dauphin, Maroantsetra, Sambava and Antalaha.
Advance booking is necessary on popular routes during peak season (typically July to September and around Christmas and New Year).

Road
Madagascar has less than 6,000km (3,728 miles) of paved roads. To appreciate just how limited this road network is, consider that it is just over just over 1% of the size of the UK’s, despite Madagascar being a considerably larger country!

Taxi
Taxis can be found in most cities and large towns and are an affordable way of getting around. Drivers are generally reliable and friendly. In the capital city taxis are plentiful. They are normally coloured cream and marked with a rooftop taxi sign.
Taxis do not have meters. In some towns there are pre-determined rates (usually a flat fare for any trip within the town) but elsewhere, including in Antananarivo, you should agree a price before setting off.

Rail
Madagascar’s rail network is limited to just two relatively short lines. The first connects Fianarantsoa in the highlands with Manakara on the east coast, and takes about eight hours each way. A single train operates the route, going down one day and back up the next.
The second rail line connects Moramanga with Tamatave (ten hours), and has a side branch to Ambatondrazaka. This railway also has just one passenger train in operation.
Rail lines also run from the capital city east to Moramanga and south Antsirabe, but neither route runs a regular passenger service. There is a Micheline (1930s rubber-wheeled train) that occasionally does weekend tourist outings to Andasibe and Antsirabe along these two lines.

By water
Madagascar has a strong maritime tradition and there are many coastal transport services. Rapids render many of the rivers unnavigable.
Tour operators can organise small-boat descents of some of the western rivers, including Tsiribihina, Manambolo, Mangoky, Mahavavy, Betsiboka and Onilahy, with overnight camping stops.
The Pangalanes Canal runs for more than 650km (400 miles) along the east coast, south of Tamatave. Some sections are too clogged with vegetation to be navigable nowadays, but the northernmost third is popular with tourists.
Many operators offer multi-day live-aboard yacht charters (including some specialising in fishing or diving) from Nosy Be, either going northeast to the Mitsio archipelago or southwest to the Radama archipelago.



 

 

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