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Madagascar History

Madagascar - national flagMadagascar - national flag

The flag of Madagascar was officially hoisted in 1958. It is based on the red and white flags of the ancient indigenous dynasties. A large part of Madagascar's population comes from immigrants from Southeast Asia, and the flag is flown at the flag of Indonesia. The green color was added and represents the coastal population. Today, white stands for purity, red for sovereignty, and green for hope.

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Madagascar - history

The first residents of Madagascar were probably Malay and Polynesian seafarers, who from approximately The 500's came to the island via East Africa. Later, Afro-Arab peoples arrived who, unlike the first settlers who chose the highlands, mainly settled in the coastal areas.

In 1500, the first Europeans arrived in Madagascar, thus being involved in the slave and arms trade. In the early 1600's. a number of kingdoms had arisen, the most important of which were antaisaka, antemoro, betsileo and merina. The Kingdom of Merina was united under Andrianampoinimerina, who ruled 1787-1810. Under his son, Radama I (regent 1810-28), the Merin Empire expanded and gained control of most of the island. Radama was supported by the British in Mauritius, and European, not least British missionaries then played a crucial role in the development of the island. A large part of the island's residents became Protestants, at the same time as French Jesuitsgot part of the coastal population converted to Catholicism. This laid the groundwork for the split between the predominantly black coastal populations and the more Indonesian highland populations, and it has since been a central political issue.

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At the end of his reign, Radama broke with the British and began a policy of isolation, which was further strengthened under the rule of Queen Ranavalona I (1828-61). Her government conducted an experiment unique to Africa in early industrialization, which included mining, the metal industry (firearms) and the manufacture of gunpowder, glass, soap and paper. When production failed to become independent of state forced and slave labor, the experiment collapsed under Radama II (regent 1861-63), and Europeans again had a growing influence on Madagascar's development. In 1868, the Kingdom of Merina concluded an agreement with France that gained control of most of NW-Madagascar, and in 1896 the island became a French colony. General Joseph Gallienibecame French governor general, abolished slavery and sent the Queen of Merina into exile. It was not until 1904 that all opposition to French supremacy was suppressed, and the Merarin Empire was integrated into the French economy.

Madagascar Country History

During World War I, a nationalist movement arose against the French colonial regime, which in turn sought in vain to counter nationalism by setting up an advisory body on the island. The British occupation of Madagascar during World War II further weakened France's position, and in 1946 Madagascar became a French overseas territory, whereby the island obtained representation in the French Parliament. In 1947-48, the marina people, who considered themselves the island's elite, led a revolt against French rule that cost over 10,000 lives. The uprising deepened the division between the coastal population and the highland population.

It was not until 1956 that France allowed political activity in Madagascar, and to counter the dominance of the marina population, France encouraged the coastal population to form their own party. In 1957, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) was formed under the leadership of Philibert Tsiranana. In 1959 he became the country's first president, and the following year Madagascar became independent. The main opposition party, the left-wing Parti congrès de l'indépendance de Madagascar, was predominantly supported by the marina population.

Tsiranana pursued a pro-Western policy, but despite a major election victory in the 1972 presidential election, had to hand over power to General Gabriel Ramanantsoa when violent demonstrations triggered a political crisis. A referendum in 1972 gave Ramanantsoa an overwhelming endorsement, after which he abolished the constitution. Economic problems and ethnic conflicts made it difficult for Ramanantsoa to control the military, which in coup-like circumstances in 1974 took power under Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava. However, he was assassinated only six days after taking power. In 1975, former Foreign Minister Didier Ratsiraka becamehead of state, and he implemented a socialist policy under which banks and key industries were nationalized. Madagascar then became more closely associated with the Soviet Union in particular. Ratsiraka was re-elected in 1982 and 1989, but at the same time the opposition and economic problems grew.

The fall of communism in Eastern Europe further weakened Ratsiraka, who sought help in the West. In 1990, a formal multi-party system was introduced. In 1992, Ratsiraka lost the presidential election to Albert Zafy (1927-2017). Violent unrest in northern Madagascar in particular and political instability weakened Zafi's reign, and in 1996 he was forced to resign. In the presidential election that year, Ratsiraka narrowly won over Zafy, and Ratsiraka chose to continue the pro-Western policy that had been pursued since the early 1990's.

The constitution was amended in 1998 so that the country became a federation with great autonomy for the six provinces. In the late 1990's, Madagascar experienced several years of economic growth, but in 2002, the country was plunged into a political crisis, which led to economic decline. The cause of the crisis was a presidential election that ended in a deadlock between two candidates, President Didier Ratsiraka and opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana (b. 1957). Both were proclaimed winners and presidents, Ravalomanana in Antananarivo, where he was mayor, and Ratsiraka in the port city of Toamasina.. Supporters of Ratsiraka blocked Antananarivo from the rest of the country with roadblocks for several months. The political crisis continued after the country's Constitutional Court (High Constitutional Court) declared Ravalomanana the winner, and four provinces in retaliation threatened to declare independence. In July 2002, Ratsiraka fled to France. In his first years as president after 2002, Ravalomanana liberalized the country's economy, resulting in increased economic growth but did not solve the poverty problems. Politically, he led a hard line against former opponents just as he came to blows with the other parties that had supported him in the 2002 election. In the 2003 local elections, Ravalomanana's party Tiako-I-Madagasikara (TIM) suffered defeat, after which the president led a more conciliatory policy towards the opposition.

After months of political unrest sparked by the government's closure of a TV station owned by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, Ravalomanana resigned in March 2009, and with military support, Rajoelina took power as head of a transitional government. At the end of 2013, the long-promised parliamentary elections were held; here, former finance minister Hery Rajaonarimampiania won the presidency.

 

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