Administrative division and population. – In 1946, when the protectorate was transformed into French overseas territory, the pre-existing administrative regions were replaced by a subdivision into 5 provinces to which a sixth was subsequently added, as in the following table. The population of Madagascar, from 3,797,936 residents in 1936, at the 1957 census, it rose to 5,065,372 residents, of which about 79,000 are French citizens or similar, and almost 25,000 foreigners. Of this population, 1,188,000 are Merina, 728,000 Betsimisaraka, 576,000 Betsileo, 350,000 Tsimihety, 290,000 Sakalava, 300,000 Antaisaka and 280,000 Antandroy. The Malagasy demographic increase was remarkable: in 1948 there was already, especially following the fight against malaria, a surplus of 22,000 people in the birth and death balance of the indigenous population.
Economic conditions. – Agriculture continues to be of paramount importance.
According to EZINESPORTS, the main products in 1957 were, after rice (741,000 ha and 11 million 200,000 q), cassava (190,000 ha and 10 million q), sugar cane (7 million q, with 340,000 q of sugar), sweet potato (3 million q), maize (800,000 q), coffee (570,000 q), peanut (300,000 q), sisal (110,000 q), vanilla (50,000 q, from 12,000 ha). As for the zootechnical patrimony, in 1955 it was ascertained as follows: cattle, about 6,100,000; goats, 510,000; sheep, 390,000; pigs, 230,000. Cattle, which in 1945 numbered fewer than 4 million, and which have therefore increased considerably in the interval, feed numerous factories for the preparation of preserved meats and a considerable export of live and frozen animals.
The mining activity allowed, among other things, in 1957 the extraction of gold (only 26 kg, instead of 350 in 1939, 292 in 1844 and 55 in 1952), of columbio (8.3 kg), beryllium (270 t), rock crystal (14 t), and the export, in 1958, of 11,000 t of graphite (17,600 were exported in 1952 and 13,600 in 1953) and 840 t of mica. In the industrial sector there are recent new initiatives and new factories: for example, a large sugar refinery entered into operation in 1953, by the Mahavavy Sugar Company, in the delta of the homonymous river, with a capacity of 50-60 thousand t sugar per year. The production of electricity, 9/10 of thermal origin, reached 66.7 million kWh in 1958. Foreign trade in the five-year period 1954-58 had the
In exports, coffee, tobacco, rice, spices, graphite, etc. predominate. France and the countries of the French Community are in first place; in 1957 they absorbed a total of 77% in value of outgoing goods and supplied 71% of incoming goods.
Communications. – The railways extend for 854 km, as before the Second World War; the roads suitable for motorized traffic in 1957 reached 31,750 km, of which 26,000 can be traveled throughout the year; scheduled car services were developed, at that date, for 2200 km. Air communications rely on four main airports, and five are the lines that, on five different itineraries, connect Tananarivo and Paris. Maritime navigation mainly refers to the ports of Tamatave, Maiunga and Diégo Suarez.
History. – After the 1947 uprising and the harsh repression of the French authorities, the political action of France did not fail to use the old tactic of the opposition of the Malagasy ethnic groups (Sakalava, Merina or Hova, Betsileo), but it collided with a a national sentiment which, although less impetuous and revolutionary than that which manifested previously, developed with the formation of various local or national parties. In the new phase a prominent place also had the Catholic intellectuals who, on the basis of a declaration issued by the bishops of Madagascar, of December 1953, grouped themselves into an association of Catholic students, which in a short time became very influential and increasingly precise in the claims for unity and independence. The intense work of propaganda and organization appeared in its real political significance when in 1956 the French government issued a framework law that granted a certain internal autonomy to overseas territories. Faithful to its policy of separation between the various regions of the island, France established in the framework law a system based on provincial assemblies: the assembly of each of the six provinces was composed of six members. In the capital Tananarivo, a government council of eight members and a representative assembly elected by restricted suffrage would function. In the elections of March 31, 1957, the moderate elements obtained a slight majority over the Malagasy People’s Union and the Catholic bloc, in favor of complete autonomy. To fight more effectively in favor of autonomy, ten political parties joined on May 10, 1958 in a Congress party, whose positions the president of the executive council, Ph. Tsiranana, seemed to be approaching. However, at the time of the institutional referendum carried out by the de Gaulle government in September 1958, he worked in favor of the formula “Associated State of the French Community”. The formula got 80% of the votes. On 14 October Madagascar was proclaimed a republic associated with the French Community (République malgache), with a presidential constitution. On May 10, 1959, Tsiranana had himself proclaimed president of the Republic by a parliament, the sum of the provincial assemblies elected on March 31, 1957. Madagascar achieved full independence on June 26, 1960 and was admitted to the UN on the following September 20.