Madagascar, an island country lying off the southeastern coast of Africa is the fourth largest island in the world, after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo.
Officially known as the Republic of Madagascar, this nation is an island situated in the shoreline of Southeast Africa – over 400 kilometers from the coast of Mozambique.
Although the Island is a member state of the African Union, a body that fosters cooperation of the African nations. It is often not included when drawing the map of Africa.
Since its formation almost 300million years ago, the Madagascar block moved roughly in conjunction with Africa, and thus there are questions as to whether the Madagascar Plate should be considered African.
Located some 400 km from the African continent (including other smaller islands), Madagascar’s population is primarily related not to African peoples but rather to those of Indonesia, more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) to the east.
With regards to the people and their culture, some scholars argue that the first settlers came directly from Indonesia, possibly in a single voyage. It is said that the island nation cannot really be said to be part of Africa, especially as Malagasy cultures, and particularly the Malagasy language, have more in common with Asia, and specifically Indonesia, than they do with Africa.
More reliable studies also proved that the settlement of the island was the result of several voyages that proceeded along the coast of India, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa and that the population that settled the island was already mixed. This defeats the earlier argument and simply explains that the people of Madagascar have different origins and different cultures.
African elements found in the population and its culture were added later, as the result of migration and the slavetrade. Therefore explaining Indonesian cultural dominance. The situation of Madagascar on the map is peculiar. Despite this assertion, Madagascar is still a member of the African Union.
Madagascar was colonized by the French. It became fully independent in June 1960, after which revisions were made to its constitution as the country transitioned through four republics. This brought a shift from neocolonialism to multi-party democracy marked by adoption of a new constitution in 2010. Today, the Republic of Madagascar is a multi-party democratic nation.
Geographically, Madagascar is closest to Africa, so it is lumped in with the continent often because of proximity. Another geographical history has it that before the split of supercontinent Gondwanaland, Madagascar was part of the African Plate. Though some argue that the split was incomplete.
Politically, in 1963 when the Organization of African Unity (OAU),now African Union (AU), was founded, Madagascar was one of the first 36 countries to be part of the charter. This simply means that in addition to the geographical history of the country, they also made a political decision to be part of the African Continent.
The point must be made clear that ultimately, a group of people can decide which part of the world they want to belong to. The people of Madagascar chose Africa, reflected in the political decision they made in 1963 – three years after their independence from French colonial rule.