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Madagascar fast facts

• It is the world’s fourth largest island, located 400 km (248 miles) off the southeast coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean.
• It has a population of more than 18 million (2006 census).
• It was formerly an independent kingdom that became a French colony in 1896 and regained its independence in 1960.
• The capital city is Antananarivo (where we will be staying).
• Official languages are Malagasy, French and English.
• 59 percent of Malagasy are Christian, 5 percent are Muslim and the others have various indigenous beliefs.
• 50 percent of Malagasy live on less than $1 (U.S.) a day.
• The monetary unit is the Ariary ($1 U.S. dollar = 1,819.31 Aviary).
• Main exports are coffee, cloves, vanilla, fish, shellfish, Chromium and Mica.
• Major trading partners are France, Germany, the U.S. and Japan.
• President of the Republic of Madagascar is Dr. Marc Ravalomanana, who was first elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. The government is headed by a prime minister who is appointed by the president. Ravalomanana received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from ACU in May 2008.
• 80 percent of the plant and animal species (such as the lemur shown here) in Madagascar are endemic – they live no other place on the planet.