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La géographie

  • Introduction

The island of Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean, in South-East Africa separated by the Mozambique Channel (400km). North of the island are the Seychelles, East La Reunion and Mauritius and the West Comoros and Mayotte archipelago. 
Madagascar has 587240km² in area, with 1570km from North to South and 575km from West to East, divided into 5 regions   : Highlands, North, South, West and East. Its population is about 23 million, with a life expectancy of about 65 years more, in Madagascar there is an average of 4.4 children per woman. The local currency is the Ariary, 1 € = 3500Ar approximately.

  • The status and types of regions

The climate in Madagascar is varied, located between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, the climate is therefore reversed compared to that of France. We can distinguish two great seasons, the dry season from April to October which is also the Southern winter and the rainy season from November to March, the seasons may vary according to the region which explains the diversity of landscapes in Madagascar. For example, in the south-west of the island, towards Tuléar, even during the winter it is nice and warm.

In Madagascar there are 5 major regions   :

The Highlands   :   this region is located in the center of the island, its cool season is characterized by low temperatures, wind that can be freezing in the evening. There may be heavy rains but they remain short during the rainy season. This region contains 3 major cities, Antananarivo (which is the capital of Madagascar), Antsirabe, Ambositra and Fianarantsoa and it is specific for its typical landscapes such as rice terraces, valleys, mountains, extinct volcanoes, peaks and hills as well as humid forests. It evolves most of the time at 1000m altitude.

The North   :   There is a risk of rain, but it can also be very nice during this season. The dry season is from May to October. In this region of the island we find the city of Nosy be, Diego Suarez and Majunga. The landscapes are varied, it is at Cape Ambre that meets the Indian Ocean and the Mozambique Channel. This region is confused between mountains, rainforest, savannah or white beaches. 
South   :   In the South, the feeling is warmer and year-round, indeed summer on this part of the island is very dry and hot and its winter is comparable to a summer in France. This region contains the city of Fort Dauphin in the South-East and Tulear in the South-West and is home to semi-desert areas, with baobabs, cacti, semi-arid high plains of tall grass but also very beautiful beaches.

The West   :   on the west coast, the sun is out all year with some light rain from December to March. This region has the city of Morondava and is characterized mainly by savannah landscapes, it is also in this part of the island that we can see the great rivers flowing into the Mozambique Channel.

The East   :   this region of Madagascar is very rainy except during the months of May, September, October, November when the rains are less frequent, so the climate is humid tropical. Tamatave is located in this region composed of forests and cliffs facing the Indian Ocean. It is also to the east that is the world capital of vanilla in Sambava.

Here is a map of the different regions of Madagascar   :



A forest map and a road of Madagascar:


  • The fauna and the flora

Madagascar is a jewel of biodiversity, the island has an incredible wealth of fauna and flora more than 80% of endemism, which is divided according to the different climates of the island. In the rainforest of the Eastern region, a secondary forest was born, with it the ravinala said the "tree of travelers". There are also 150 species of palm family on the island including raffia and in the South where the trihedral palm is found. In arid regions, there are precious woods, such as rosewood and ebony. Moreover in Madagascar there are 7 varieties of baobabs compared to Africa which has only one. On the highlands, the great rainforest is found only on the eastern part of the island, so we will find introduced species such as mimosa, pine or eucalyptus. On the coast of the island, the mangrove is very widespread, and bamboos, pandanus, ravinala are numerous. In Madagascar there are many endemic and unique plants.
In terms of the animals that can be found in Madagascar, there is first the lemur which is the symbol of this island (36 species, the majority of which is found only in Madagascar) , we can also find the aye-aye only species of its kind, but vulnerable to extinction which is a species of lemur primate. For endemic species (80 to 90%), we can see chameleons, starry turtles in the South, angonoka, a very rare species that lives only in the Northeast, we can also see tenrecs. There is only one species of crocodile on Madagascar, that of the Nile, in the West and North where they are considered sacred!
About 60 species of harmless snakes are present, however those of the seas are dangerous, 294 species of bird (a third are endemic) as the coua or the vanga. There is also a specific mammal of the island, the fossa (the biggest carnivorous mammal of the island, it can be compared to a small cougar), it can be seen only at night around November-December in the West , North or South of the island.
For marine mammals, jellyfish and sharks are the biggest dangers (East Coast)! To the west, you can admire the coral reefs with an impressive diversity of fish, sea turtles. In addition, humpback whales appear between July and October off Tulear.
  • The riches of the island

The national parks and the peaks of Madagascar are real treasure on the island.

  • The economy of Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over 80% of the population living below the poverty line. 
Its entire economy is based on agriculture, mining, fishing and the textile industry. The most commercialized product is vanilla. Madagascar is the largest producer of vanilla in the world.

Madagascar has experienced several major crises, most recently in 2009. That led to a socio-economic crisis. 
Economic policy took, after the revolution of 1972, a nationalist and socialist turn (with in particular the exit of the franc zone), accompanied by an acceleration of the investments. The global crisis has highlighted the weaknesses of the system and led to the adoption of the remedies advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, that is, austerity and liberalization. Significant results in terms of GDP have been obtained since 1990, although with significant variations depending on the year. But income inequality has worsened, making the social climate more tense, especially in cities. 
The trade balance remains in deficit and underemployment is important. 
The Malagasy economy depends primarily on exported agricultural products (coffee, vanilla, cloves). Nearly half of Madagascar’s exports go to France, which supplies nearly 15% of the country’s imports.

Per day, a Malagasy earns about $ 1, or $ 36 a month, and 70% of Malagasy live below the poverty line. Around 1 in 2 children under 5 suffer from malnutrition.
Graph showing inequality gap between Malagasy salaries and the rest of the world (in $ per month) 
World Bank Sources
We can see that in 2004, when the average salary in the world was $ 543 per month, in Madagascar, it was only $ 24. If wages around the world continued to rise, in Madagascar, in 2012, an average salary was $36.


  • Economic sectors

The main economic sector that creates employment in Madagascar is the agricultural sector, thanks to various plantations (cotton, wood, vanilla, rice …). Agriculture makes live in Madagascar 4 inhabitants out of 5. The main agricultural activity is the cultivation of rice with 37% of cultivated land. 
Agricultural activities adapt to the possibilities of the regions. Indeed, in areas where there is an abundance of rain, in the east of the island, we favor the cultivation of rice, taro, sugar cane … While in the Southwest, the climate is more conducive to raising zebus, sheep and goats from Nubia. Highlands are known for their irrigated rice fields in the form of terraces. However, they were also appreciated for cattle breeding. 
In all the island, Malagasy breed poultry like chicken and duck for faith, goose and quail for eggs. They grow and harvest peas of earth, sesame, lentils and beans. Banana, orange and lemon trees can also be found throughout the island. Coconut palms are located in coastal areas. With people from all over the world, Madagascar has seen the introduction of plants such as maize, cassava and groundnuts. The development of commercial crops (sugar cane, cotton, cocoa, oil palm …) was carried out on large farms or in peasant lands such as coffee, tobacco, vanilla and pepper. 
Fishing is not yet sufficiently exploited to produce an additional resource. 
Agriculture accounts for around 26.5% of GDP.
The second economic sector of Madagascar is that of industry. It represents only 15.9% of the country’s GDP. 
Mining is low compared to the various deposits of mica, bauxite, coal and precious stones present in the country. The main industry is that for agricultural products and tobacco. The petroleum industry of Madagascar does not export to other countries; it suffices for the needs of its country.
The tertiary sector, also called Services, is composed of seven sub-sectors, namely: transport, telecommunications, banks, buildings and public works, insurance, trade and tourism. The expansion of this sector has been promoted mainly through the implementation of measures such as the cleansing and privatization of state-owned companies, the creation and improvement of the legal and regulatory framework, the development and rehabilitation of infrastructure and finally the improvement of services rendered. 
This is the sector that brings the most value added to the country. (57.6% against 26.5 for agriculture)
sources   : World Bank 2014

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