Capital: Cities: Capital – Antananarivo (pop. about 1,300,000). Other cities – Antsirabe (about 500,000), Mahajanga (about 400,000), Toamasina (about 450,000).
Terrain: Mountainous central plateau, coastal plain.
Nationality: Noun and adjective–Malagasy.
Population (2010 estimate): 20.1 million.
Ethnic groups: 18 Malagasy tribes; small groups of Comorans, French, Indians, and Chinese. The Malagasies are of African/Asian origin.
Religions: Traditional beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%.
Most people practice traditional religions, which tend to emphasize links between the living and the dead. They believe that the dead join their ancestors in the ranks of divinity and that ancestors are intensely concerned with the fate of their living descendants. The Merina and Betsileo reburial practice of famadihana, or “turning over the dead” celebrates this spiritual communion. In this ritual, relatives’ remains are removed from the family tomb, rewrapped in new silk shrouds, and returned to the tomb following festive ceremonies in their honor.
About 41% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant. Many incorporate the cult of the dead with their religious beliefs and bless their dead at church before proceeding with the traditional burial rites. They also may invite a pastor to attend a famadihana. While many Christians continue these practices, others consider them to be superstitions that should be abandoned. Many of the Christian churches are influential in politics. In the coastal regions of the provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), Muslims constitute a significant minority. Muslims are divided between those of Malagasy ethnicity, Indo-Pakistanis, and Comorans.
Languages: Malagasy (official), French (official), English (official).
Education: Years compulsory – 5. Literacy – 64%.
Health: Infant mortality rate – 48/1,000. Life expectancy – 59 years (2007 estimate).
Branches: Executive – president, prime minister, cabinet.
Judicial – Supreme Court, High Court of Justice, Constitutional High Court.
Legislative – National Assembly and Senate.
Living Conditions: Unsettled government and corruption in recent years, especially since a 2009 coup d’etat, has caused a decline in the economy and an increase in poverty. Thousands of jobs have been lost. International assistance except for targeted humanitarian aid has ceased and the nation has been suspended from the African Union until it returns to elected democratic government.
An email from a contact states, “since 3 years ago, due to political and economical crisis, the country is under extreme poverty (unemployment…), violence, occultism, idolatry.
A core group of believers who will seek revival for their nation.
A strong stand against occultism, idolatry and syncretism.
Discernment of the spiritual powers over the nation.
A reduction in violence.
Identification of men of peace and delegates to the Pan African Conference.
A return to democratic government.