Madagascar, troubled vanilla island

2018-11-05 19:53
Madagascar ( iStock)

Madagascar ( iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is the leading global producer of vanilla and blessed with a bountiful biodiversity, yet it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Here is some background:

 Fourth largest island 

Stretching across 587 000 square kilometres, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island, bigger than Spain or Thailand in size.

The island country lies just over 400km off the southeastern coast of Africa and is home to a population of nearly 25 million people (2016, World Bank), including 18 ethnic groups.

Madagascar is frequently exposed to extreme weather events, such as tropical storms, flooding and drought. One of the most powerful cyclones in recent years, Enawo, claimed nearly 80 lives on the island in March 2017.

While it is renowned for its luscious biodiversity, some of this is under threat including critically endangered lemurs, the rare and ruby-coloured rosewood, and various tortoises and turtles.

Wildlife smuggling and trafficking of its abundant natural wealth remains a national concern.

 Political divisions 

The former French colony, which gained independence in 1960, has been mired in political division and upheaval for decades.

A disputed 2001 presidential election led to violent clashes that ended with Marc Ravalomanana, the mayor of the capital, taking power.

The outgoing leader was Didier Ratsiraka, a one-time Marxist who had ruled since 1975 and went into exile.

Ravalomanana was toppled in 2009 by another Antananarivo mayor, Andry Rajoelina, in an army-backed coup.

But Rajoelina was disqualified as a candidate in 2013 elections for his links to the country's troubled past, as were Ravalomanana's wife and Ratsiraka.

Protests erupted again in April 2018 over claims that laws ahead of the presidential vote would see certain candidates barred.

After weeks of unrest and calls for him to quit, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina was forced to replace his government with a "consensus" administration in June 2018.

 Vanilla, sapphires, malnutrition 

Heavily reliant on international aid, Madagascar has since 2016 registered annual growth of more than four percent, the World Bank says.

But most people have not benefited from the improved economic situation with 76% living in extreme poverty.

The country supplies about 80% of global vanilla bean stocks and is also one of the world's leading producers of sapphires.

Its agriculture sector, the main source of income for most people, is vulnerable to its regular natural disasters. Rice production, for example, fell by about 20% from 2016 which led to unbearable price hikes, according to the World Bank.

Madagascar has the sixth highest rate of malnutrition in the world, with nearly half of all Malagasy children under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition according to Unicef.

The impoverished nation has among the highest global levels of illiterate children.

Only about 13% of its population has access to electricity.

Sources: AFP, Unicef, World Bank

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Read more on:    madagascar  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.