Narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center
Tropical along coast, temperate inland; arid in south
Nationality: Malagasy (singular and plural)
Population: 23,201,926 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: French (official), Malagasy (official), English
Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization that has been undermined since the start of the political crisis. This strategy placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population.
Overall, Madagascar is ranked as one of the poorest countries in world. Its people suffer from chronic malnutrition and a high (3 percent) annual population growth rate. In addition, health and education facilities are not adequately funded. Basic necessities such as electricity, clean water, adequate housing, and transportation are hard to come by for the average citizen. There are sharp divisions between the upper and lower classes. There is virtually no middle class.
US Military Presence/Support