|Official name (since 1975): Democratic Republic of Madagascar, Former name (1958--75): Malagasy Republic an island republic in the Indian Ocean, off the E coast of Africa: made a French protectorate in 1895; became autonomous in 1958 and fully independent in 1960; contains unique flora and fauna. Languages: Malagasy and French. Religions: animist and Christian. Currency: franc. Capital: Antananarivo. Pop: 17 901 000 (2004 est). Area: 587 041 sq km (266 657 sq miles)|
Note: The island of Madagascar is the fourth largest in the world.
Note: Madagascar was under French control from the late nineteenth century until 1960, when it gained full independence. Its culture mixes European, African, and South Asian influences.