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Madagascar's history - Royal dynasties, colonisation and the Republic

Madagascar’s history: Royal dynasties, colonisation and the Republic

The Fascinating History of Madagascar Island

Madagascar, the largest island in the Indian Ocean, was discovered by Portuguese explorer Diego Diaz in 1500. Situated about 400km off the coast of Africa, it spans an area of 587,041 km2 and is considered part of the African continent. The island’s capital is Antananarivo, divided into 22 regions, and operates under a republican regime. With approximately 27 million inhabitants representing diverse ethnic groups and cultures, Madagascar is often referred to as “The Red Island” due to its rich biodiversity.

The Beginning of Monarchy:

The feudal period in Madagascar started around 1500-1810. It ended when colonization began in 1896.

Madagascar had four major kingdoms in the past

In the east, there was the kingdom of ANTEMORO from the 12th to the 19th century. It was a realm of Arabo-Islamic origin. The decline of this kingdom came about due to disputes among successor chiefs, which led to an economic decline and made it vulnerable to conquest by the Merina.

To the west, there existed the SAKALAVA kingdom, uniting Menabe and Boina. It was founded by princes Maroseranana from Fiherenana region, Andriamisara, and Andriandahifotsy. However, in the early 19th century, this kingdom was destroyed by Merina conquest.

In the south lay the MAHAFALY or Masikoro and Zafimanara kingdom that gradually expanded to Toliara. This realm was established around in the 16th century by King Olombelotsitoto.

At Madagascar’s center stood the MERINA kingdom which emerged around in XIX century.
Madagascar used to be a French colony until its colonization ended in 1958 after a referendum on September 28 led to its dissolution as a colony. The Republic of Madagascar was born on October 14, 1958.

The beginning of French colonization signaled the end of monarchy in Madagascar when Queen Ranavalona III went into exile and Madagascar became a French colony with all its dependent islands following a law passed on August 6, 1896.
Joseph Simon Galliéni served as Governor General from 1896 to1905 during which time he held all powers.
Resistance against colonial authority grew due to opposition towards adopting French naturalization policies and abandoning traditional customs and religion.

The Republic:

After gaining independence, Madagascar established its first republic, led by President Philibert Tsiranana. Since then, the country has had four republics with four presidents elected through universal suffrage: Didier Ratsiraka, Marc Ravalomanana, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, and the current president Andry Rajoelina. Additionally, Madagascar has experienced six transitional regimes since its first republic.

The transitional periods were led by General Gabriel Ramanantsoa after the first republic and followed by Richard Ratsimandrava, Gilles Andriamahazo, Norbert Lala Ratsirahonana, Andry Rajoelina. The most recent transition was under the leadership of Rivo Rakotovao.

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