Madagascar Overview


Official name of the state

Republic of Madagascar.


Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive).


The fourth largest island in the world is located in the Indian Ocean and is separated from mainland Africa by the Mozambique Strait. Some smaller islands belong to the national territory. The central mountain range, the Hauts Plateaux, covers over half of the main island and causes the ethnic, climatic and scenic differences between the west and east coasts. The west coast used to be covered with dry deciduous forest and today consists almost entirely of savannah. The semi-desert on the southern tip of the island is covered with large forests of cactus-like plants. The capital Antananarivo is high in the Hauts Plateaux, almost in the middle of the island.


Republic since 1992 (Third Republic). Constitution of 1992. Bicameral parliament: National Assembly (127 members) and Senate (100 members. One third of the members are appointed by the head of state). Independent since 1960 (former French colony).

Head of state

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, since January 2014.

Head of government

Solonandrasana Olivier Mahafaly, since April 2016.


(mostly) 220 V as well as 127 V, 50 Hz. Two-pin plugs are common.

Time zone

Eastern Africa Time: CET +4



Malagasy (Malagasy) and French are official languages, until 2010 English was also an official language. Other regional languages such as Makoa or Swahili also serve as colloquial languages. English is only understood in large cities; French is widely spoken. In the remote rural areas it is advisable to have a local tour guide with you who speaks Malagasy.


There are some helpful French words and phrases that every traveler should master:

  • Goodbye = Au revoir
  • Eight = Huit
  • Eighty = Quatre-vingt
  • Exit = sort
  • Beer = beer
  • Please = S’il vous plaît
  • Thank you = Merci
  • Tuesday = Mardi
  • Doctor = Médecin
  • Thursday = Jeudi
  • Three = Trois
  • Thirty = Trente
  • Entrance = Entrée
  • One hundred = cents
  • One = Un (Une)
  • One thousand = mille
  • Friday = Vendredi
  • Five = Cinq
  • Fifty = Cinquante
  • Danger = Danger
  • Closed = fermé
  • Hello = Bonjour
  • Today = Aujourd’hui
  • Hotel = hotel
  • I feel sick = Je ne me sens pas bien
  • I don’t understand = Je ne comprends pas
  • Yes = Oui
  • My name is?? = Je m’appelle??
  • I’m fine. = Ça va bien
  • Wednesday = Mercredi
  • Monday = Lundi
  • Tomorrow = Demain
  • No = non
  • Nine = new
  • Ninety = Quatre-vingt dix
  • Open = crotchless
  • Restaurant = restaurant
  • Saturday = Samedi
  • Six = Six
  • Sixty = Soixante
  • Seven = Sept
  • Seventy = Soixante-dix
  • Sunday = Dimanche
  • Menu = menu
  • Do you speak German / English? = Est-ce que vous parlez allemand / anglais?
  • Toilets = toilets
  • Four = Quatre
  • Forty = quarters
  • Wine = Vin
  • How are you? = Comment ça va?
  • How much is it? = Combien est-ce que ça coûte?
  • Where is??? = Où est???
  • Ten = Dix
  • Twenty = Vingt
  • Two = deux


Business etiquette

Light tropical clothing is also appropriate for business meetings. The embassy can provide interpreters by prior arrangement.


Fédération des Chambres de Commerce, d’Industrie et d’Agriculture de Madagascar (Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
20 rue Paul Dussac – BP 166, MG-101 Antananarivo
Tel: (261) 215 67.

Business contacts

Fédération des Chambres de Commerce, d’Industrie et d’Agriculture de Madagascar (Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
20 rue Paul Dussac – BP 166, MG-101 Antananarivo
Tel: (261) 215 67.



52% followers of natural religions, 41% Christians and 7% Muslims.

Social rules of conduct

General: Fadys (local taboos), which are set by the elders of the village community, regulate daily life in Madagascar, a country located in Africa according to constructmaterials. As Fady also sacred places are called, which are the Malagasy taboo sacred and therefore for foreigners, such as graves or specific nature sanctuaries as revered ponds and trees. You should find out about existing fadys from people who are familiar with the area, especially outside the larger cities, and you should absolutely respect them.

Clothing: Casual clothing is quite appropriate, only in posh hotels and restaurants you might expect more elegantly dressed guests. Swimwear belongs on the beach.

Manners: Invitations to private houses are rather rare. In some areas it is still the custom today (as far as the costs of this campaign allow it) to invite an ancestor to the village festival and dig him up for this purpose so that he can be present in person. He is later dressed in new shrouds and buried again. This ritual (known as Famadihana) shows the people’s adherence to ancient traditions.

Adultery and pedophilia are prohibited by law and are punishable by high custodial sentences or fines. Since it cannot be ruled out that foreigners are sometimes deliberately brought into a compromising situation, it is advisable to be particularly careful in contact with young girls and women.

Photography: Military or police facilities may not be photographed, the same applies to security-relevant facilities such as airports, bridges or government buildings. People should be asked before they are photographed.


Best travel time

The climate is hot and subtropical, it is cooler in the mountains. Rainy season: November – March. Dry season: April – October. In the south and west it is hot and dry. The monsoon rains in the east and north bring storms and cyclones with them between December and March. In the mountains, including Antananarivo, it is warm and thunderstorm between November and April, otherwise dry, cool and windy.


Area code +261 Area (sq km) 587 041 Population 23 812 681 Population density (per sq km) 41 Population in 2015 Member of the EU No major emergency number 117

Madagascar Overview