In 1896 the island of Madagascar lost its status as an independent kingdom to French colonialism. Independence was reinstituted in 1960, launching almost two decades of one-party rule. In the mid1990s, Madagascar rejected socialism and began a process of privatization and liberalization by following the guidelines of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In 2001, during a hotly-contested presidential election, half the country threatened to secede. Stability was restored when the High Constitutional Court declared a winner in April 2002.

With just over five percent arable land, more than 80 percent of the work force is engaged in agriculture and fishing. In recent years, the economy has become more diversified, and revenue from apparel industry exports is increasing. Natural resources include: graphite, chromite, coal, ...

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