an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1886,
but regained its independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential
and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of single-party
rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA,
the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency.
The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers
of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession
of half of the country. In April 2002 the High Constitutional Court
announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. Location: Southern Africa,
island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique Climate: Tropical along
coast, temperate inland, arid in south Borders: None More... Madagascar
lies 400 kilometres off the east coast of Africa and offers diverse
and spectacular scenery: mountains, deserts, rainforests, dazzling
beaches fringing the Indian Ocean and island archipelagos linked
by coral reefs and clear turquoise waters.