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Madagascar (; Malagasy: Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara Malagasy pronunciation: [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa. At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world's 2nd largest island country. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth- largest island in the world) and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
The archaeological evidence of the earliest human foraging on Madagascar may date up to 10,000 years ago. Human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and 550 AD by Indianized Austronesian peoples, arriving on outrigger canoes from Indonesia. The social and religious situation of Indonesia during those times were that of Hinduism and Buddhism, along with native Indonesian culture. These were joined around the 9th century AD by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into 18 or more subgroups, of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting sociopolitical alliances. Beginning in the early 19th century, most of the island was united and ruled as the Kingdom of Madagascar by a series of Merina nobles. The monarchy ended in 1897 when the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire, from which the island gained independence in 1960. The autonomous state of Madagascar has since undergone four major constitutional periods, termed republics. Since 1992, the nation has officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However, in a popular uprising in 2009, president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina. Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014, when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the international community. Madagascar is a member of the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
The Gray Mouse Lemur (Microcebus murinus) is a small lemur, a type of strepsirrhine primate, found only on the island of Madagascar. Weighing 58 to 67 grams (2.0 to 2.4 oz), it is the largest of the mouse lemurs (genus Microcebus), a group which include the smallest primates in the world. The species is named for its mouse-like size and coloration and is known locally (in Malagasy) as Tsidy, Koitsiky, Titilivaha, Pondiky, and Vakiandry. Nearly indistinguishable from each other by appearance, the Gray Mouse Lemur and all other mouse lemurs are considered cryptic species. For this reason, the Gray Mouse Lemur was considered the only mouse lemur species for decades until more recent studies began to distinguish between the species.
Like all mouse lemurs, this species is nocturnal and arboreal. It is very active, and although it forages alone, groups of males and females will form sleeping groups and share tree holes during the day. It exhibits a form of dormancy called torpor during the cool, dry winter months, and in some cases undergoes seasonal torpor (or hibernation), which is unusual for primates. The Gray Mouse Lemur can be found in several types of forest throughout western and southern Madagascar.
Did you know ...
- ...that although no fossils of the extinct Malagasy Hippopotamus have been dated within the last 1,000 years, villagers in Madagascar described a similar creature still alive as recently as 1976?
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Marc Ravalomanana (born December 12, 1949, in Imerinkasinina) is a Malagasy politician who was the President of Madagascar from 2002 to 2009. A member of the Merina ethnic group, Ravalomanana served as Mayor of Antananarivo before becoming President in 2002. He took office as President amidst a dispute over the results of the December 2001 presidential election in which he successfully pressed his claim to have won a majority in the first round. He was re-elected in December 2006, again with a majority in the first round.
In the municipal elections held on November 14, 1999, Ravalomanana was elected as mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, receiving 45% of the vote and defeating former Prime Minister Guy Willy Razanamasy. As mayor he was credited with successfully cleaning up the capital. He announced on August 5, 2001 that he would run for President in the election to be held later that year on December 16; two months later, polls showed him to be ahead of the incumbent president, Didier Ratsiraka.
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