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Madagascar Information - Page 2
The first known inhabitants, probably from present-day Indonesia, arrived in Madagascar around two thousand years ago.

Arabs established trading posts along parts of the coast in the seventh century.

The first Europeans to sight the islands were the Portuguese (1500). Other European traders followed.

The French declared Madagascar a French Colony in 1896.

In 1946 Madagascar became an Overseas Territory of France. Independence was achieved, as the Malagasy Republic, in 1960.

Agriculture, fishing and forestry provides a living for a high percentage of Madagascar's working population.

Agricultural products are vanilla, cloves, sugarcane, coffee, cocoa, rice, cassava, beans, bananas and groundnuts (peanuts). Livestock is reared.

In March 2008 Madagascar produced its first barrels of crude oil in sixty years.

Other industries include cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, glassware, textiles, clothes, food processing and beverages.

The services sector provides the highest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Commercial banking is a profitable service.

Eco-tourism has a potential for expansion. (2011)

Crafts in Madagascar are fibre weaving, basketry, leatherwork and woodwork. The most valued craft is the production of lambda, a hand-woven cloth, used in traditional ceremonies, and an important part of Madagascar's cultural heritage.

A strong oral tradition has passed down histories and legends through the generations.

Football is a popular sport in Madagascar. The national team is known as the Scorpions. Basketball and volleyball are also played.

Water sports include swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving.

All religious festivals are celebrated. Independence Day is on 26 June (1960 - from France).

News from Madagascar is available from Newslink.

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