Madagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean. It is also known as the "Great Red Island". It is separated from the southeast coast of Africa. It is the fourth largest island in the world, with an area of 587,041 Km (226,658 sq. miles). The island id slightly less than twice the size of Arizona. The capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo. There are provinces or states. They are Anatananarivo, Antsiranana, Finanarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara. Its population is 16,979,744. 45% of the population is 14 years of age and younger, 51.9% is 15-64 years of age, and 3.1% is 65 years and older. French is one official language in Madagascar because it is a French colony. The other official language is Merina dialect, a Malayo-Indonesian origin.
The first people on the island are believed to be Indonesians and Africans. In 1500 Diogo Dias, a Portuguese sea captain, was the first European to see this island. In the 17th century the Portuguese, English, and French successively and unsuccessfully tried to colonize Madagascar. The French had a temporary control of the island in 1642, until in 1674 they were driven out by a powerful monarchy among the Merina, a people of Malay origin. The British gained influence from 1810 to 1828 when king Radama I was in reign. The British sent missionaries to the island and introduced schools and Christianity. When Radama died there was a strong reaction against the European culture. The British trade was cut off and missionaries were persecuted. When Radama II was in reign he was very friendly towards the French. This resulted in the French regaining the Island in 1895 with a Queen. In 1896 the queen was exiled and miliary rule was set in place. In May 1942, two years after WWII and the fall of France, the British government believed that Japan would try and take over Madagascar so they took over. That didn't last long and the British surrendered in 1943 to the Free French government.