According to a 1990 estimate, the country’s population amounted to approximately 11,443,000 residents; considering that the state extends over 587,041 km 2, the average density is 19 residents / km 2. The growth rate, which has been very high in recent decades, has stabilized at around 3% for some years. The population is unevenly distributed: the major concentrations are found on the central highlands and throughout the eastern area of the island. Most of the residents live scattered throughout the territory, while the urban population is just 25% of the total. The capital, Antananarivo, the country’s largest economic and financial center, had 802,390 residents in 1990. (they were about half in 1972). The main centers after the capital are located on the plateau: Antsirabé and Fianarantsoa.
According to CLOTHINGEXPRESS, the economy of Madagascar is still very backward; gross domestic product is modest (World Bank estimates attribute the country to GDP per capita of 210 dollars in 1991) and agriculture contributes to its formation for about a third (but it occupies almost 80% of the active population); life expectancy at birth is around 50 years and one in 4 adults is illiterate. Furthermore, the country has not reached food self-sufficiency and is in foreign debt for about 400 million dollars (the GNP, in 1991, was around 2560 million dollars). Agriculture is still largely practiced in backward forms of production: subsistence crops prevail, including rice, cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Plantation crops, intended for export, occupy a much smaller area than those for domestic consumption. Among them stand out coffee, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, cocoa and spices (cloves, pepper and vanilla). Cattle breeding is widespread (10.2 million head in 1990); of lesser importance is that of pigs (1.4 million) and goats (1.2 million), while the number of poultry animals is consistent (32 million).
The resources of the subsoil are scarce, mainly represented by chromium and uranium minerals. The oil exploration conducted by foreign companies bodes well; currently, however, the crude is imported and partly re-exported after processing in the Toamasina plants. The manufacturing industry is limited to small food and textile factories, and lacks basic productions.
The fragility of the economic structure is matched by a difficult financial situation, which only the limitation of imports and the scarcity of social investments can somehow contain. Foreign debt is also heavy.
The railway network has a total development of 1054 km; the national roads run for 8509 km, of which 5401 are asphalted. Air communications are proportionately more developed, which can count on two international airports (Antananarivo, Toamasina). The main ports are Toamasina and Mahajanga.
History. – After a period of strong political and social unrest which began in 1972, Madagascar reached a certain stability in 1975. However, the contrasts, internal shocks and episodes of social revolt were also repeated later, a sign that the system was still looking for a stable institutional set-up. With the referendum of 21 December 1975, however, Madagascar gave itself a Constitution and found a “strong man”, Captain D. Ratsiraka, who was re-elected president twice more, in November 1982 and in March 1989. Ratsiraka he imposed himself on the impulse of a radical upheaval and, as long as possible, remained faithful to the principles that he himself had entrusted to a kind of “ red book ” (Beky Mena), the Charter of the Malagasy socialist revolution, which proclaims socialism, the return to Malagasy authenticity and non-alignment.
The government of Ratsiraka carried out extensive nationalizations, closed the French bases, animated third-world initiatives in the Indian Ocean and in Africa. However, the difficult economic situation forced Ratsiraka to come to terms with the International Monetary Fund, which imposed corrective measures in the sense of economic liberalization and privatization of the market as conditions for the granting of credits. Ratsiraka also eased the tension with France without returning to the franc area.
The political system of the Second Republic was based on a dose of personalism (with the charismatic guidance of Ratsiraka himself, placed by the Constitution as “guardian of the revolution”) and formal pluralism (with an elected National People’s Assembly, after competition between several parties). In the center, with the president, was AREMA (Avantgarde de la Révolution Malgache). In the elections, AREMA also found itself challenged on the left by the pro-Communist AKFM (Madagascar Independence Congress Party), MFM / MFT (Movement for Power to the Proletarians), and MONIMA (Mouvement National pour indépendance). de Madagascar) of Madagascar Joana, who was arrested for sedition in 1982 for having severely questioned the results of the elections and was then defeated again in the 1989 elections.
In theory, all legal parties were part of an umbrella organization called the National Front for the Defense of the Malagasy Socialist Revolution, but the historical nucleus from which Ratsiraka had also emerged was now divided. To the social dialectic, in a country that is relatively articulated and diversified, there was added a never dormant competition between the Merina population of the internal highlands, to which Ratsiraka belongs, and the people of the coast.
The Ratsiraka regime entered into crisis following violent popular demonstrations that began in 1990. A more democratic political system was introduced, amid bitter contrasts, sanctioned by a new parliamentary constitution approved in 1992. The transition process culminated in the presidential elections in two rounds: the opposition candidate, A. Zafy, head of the Living Forces Movement, forced Ratsiraka to ballot and defeated him by winning 66% of the votes (10 February 1993). Ratsiraka accepted defeat while remaining on the political scene with a new party, ARES (Avantgarde pour le redressement économique et social). The breakdowns caused by an economic management that passed in a short time from collectivism to monetarist liberalism and then by a long stagnation during the change from the Second to the Third Republic have strongly penalized the Big Island: according to some sources, the income of the residents fell in 10 years from 1000 to just over 200 dollars.