Information on Madagascar

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Madagascar: Quick Facts

  • Madagascar is the 4th largest island and is almost the size of Texas. If California were placed on top of Madagascar, California would only fill 72% of the country.
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  • The island has a population of 24 million people
  • Two Official Languages: Malagasy, French
  • Madagascar’s population consists of 18 main ethnic groups, all of whom speak the same Malagasy language
  • Spiritual Poverty: 50% of the population have traditional animistic beliefs only, 40% claim to be “Christian” (syncretism for most, including ancestor worship), 10% Muslim (growing with Comoros Islands to the North West coast of Madagascar).
  • Within the “Christian” group, 40% are Roman Catholic, 30% are nominal Protestants, 10% are Lutherans, 15% are part of the growing charismatic movement, 5% evangelical protestants (which includes the Biblical Baptist denomination which is Reformed Baptist)
  • Most Malagasy people would profess to believe in a god but practice ancestor worship as well
  • 6th poorest country in the world
  • Literacy rate: 64.5%
  • Population without electricity: 85%
  • 76% earn less than $1/day
  • Poverty headcount ratio: >80%
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  • Government: semi-presidential republic
  • Legal System: civil law system based on the old French civil code and customary law in matters of marriage, family, and obligation
  • Economy: Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population.
  • Madagascar has a youthful population – just over 60% are under the age of 25.
  • The weather stays warm most of the year
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  • Madagascar has two seasons: A short rainy season with tons of rain (Nov – Feb) and a long season with less rain (Mar – Oct).
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Madagascar: History

  • The earliest settlers from present-day Indonesia arrived between A.D. 350 and 550. The island attracted Arab and Persian traders as early as the 7th century, and migrants from Africa arrived around A.D. 1000.
  • Madagascar was a pirate stronghold during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and served as a slave trading center into the 19th century. From the 16th to the late 19th century, a native Merina Kingdom dominated much of Madagascar.
  • The island was conquered by the French in 1896 who made it a colony; independence was regained in 1960.
  • *The information above taken from the 9Marks Article: “How Christ Is Building His Church in Madagascar” by Tim Cantrell

Madagascar: Missions Movement

  • When William Carey went to India in 1793, he wrote this while sailing past Madagascar: “I hope . . . that the multitudes of heathen in the world may hear the glorious words of truth. Africa is but a little way from England; Madagascar but a little way farther. . . . A large field opens on every side, and millions of perishing heathens, tormented in this life by idolatry, superstition, and ignorance, and exposed to eternal miseries in the world to come, are pleading.” That plea was heard by an older Bible school teacher in Wales, who had a great burden for Madagascar, and began praying and challenging his students to go there.
  • Two young Welshmen soon took up the challenge and in 1818 arrived in Madagascar with the gospel. But only one of them, David Jones, survived—after losing his wife, family, and coworkers all to malaria.
  • Yet by 1835, Jones and his team had finished translating the entire Bible, just before an outbreak of fierce persecution and expulsion of missionaries in 1837. (The Malagasy Bible was the first African Bible translation of the modern missionary era.)
  • An evil queen (Ranavalona, 1828-61) believed Christianity was a threat to her kingdom and to their animistic ways. If believers would not renounce their faith, they were hurled to their death from high cliffs in the capital city (where martyr monuments still stand today).
  • Yet the Malagasy church now had God’s Word, so portions of Scripture were hidden and smuggled by believers from village to village. They stood firm during these fiery trials until religious freedom returned, 30 years later.
  • *The information above taken from the 9Marks Article: “How Christ Is Building His Church in Madagascar” by Tim Cantrell

Madagascar Is Beautiful

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Madagascar: Wildlife

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Madagascar: Cities

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