This article is about the demographic features of the population of Madagascar, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
The problem with population estimation in Madagascar is that data is very old and limited. The last population census was carried out in 1993, after an initial 1975 census. There was an attempt at a census in 2009, but this attempt ultimately failed due to political instability. Therefore, the demographic situation is inferred but reliability of any estimates from any source has a large margin of error. According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects the total population was 24,894,551 in 2016, compared to only 4,084,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 43.1%, 53.8% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 3.1% was 65 years or older .
|Total population (thousands)||Population aged 0-14 (%)||Population aged 15-64 (%)||Population aged 65+ (%)|
Structure of the population (DHS 2013) (males 18,875, females 19,483, total 38,358):
|Age group||Male (%)||Female (%)||Total (%)|
|Age group||Male (%)||Female (%)||Total (%)|
UN medium variant projections:
|Year||Projected population (thousands)|
Registration of vital events in Madagascar is not complete. The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. 
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR*||CDR*||NC*||TFR*||IMR*|
|* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)|
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):
|Year||CBR (Total)||TFR (Total)||CBR (Urban)||TFR (Urban)||CBR (Rural)||TFR (Rural)|
|1992||43.3||6.13 (5.2)||34.2||3.84 (3.0)||45.1||6.69 (5.8)|
|1997||42.3||5.97 (5.2)||34.5||4.19 (3.8)||45.0||6.66 (5.8)|
|2003-04||35.3||5.2 (4.7)||28.7||3.7 (3.4)||37.2||5.7 (5.1)|
|2008-09||33.4||4.8 (4.2)||24.8||2.9 (2.5)||34.8||5.2 (4.5)|
Fertility data as of 2008-2009 (DHS Program):
|Region||Total fertility rate||Percentage of women age 15-49 currently pregnant||Mean number of children ever born to women age 40-49|
The island of Madagascar is predominantly populated by people broadly classified as belonging to the Malagasy ethno-linguistic group. This group is further subdivided a number of ethnic groups, often into the standard eighteen. In addition, communities of Indians and Arabs have long been established on the island and have assimilated into local communities to varying degrees, in some places having long since become identified "Malagasy" ethnic groups, and in others maintaining distinct identities and cultural separation. More recent arrivals include Europeans and Chinese immigrants.
Madagascar was probably uninhabited prior to Austronesian settlement in the early centuries AD. Austronesian features are most predominant in the central highlands people, the Merina (3 million[year needed]) and the Betsileo (2 million[year needed]); the remaining 16 tribal groupings are coastal peoples who are predominantly of East African origin, with various Malay, Arab, European and Indian admixtures. The largest coastal groups are the Betsimisaraka (1,500,000) and the Tsimihety and Sakalava (700,000 each). Malagasy society has long been polarized between the politically and economically advantaged highlanders of the central plateaux and the people along the coast. For example, in the 1970s there was widespread opposition among coastal ethnics against the policy of "Malagasization" which intended to phase out the use of the French language in public life in favour of a more prominent position for the Malagasy language, whose orthography is based on the Merina dialect. Identity politics were also at the core of the brief civil unrest during 2002.
Indians in Madagascar descend mostly from traders who arrived in the newly independent nation looking for better opportunities. The majority of them came from the west coast of India known as Karana (Muslim) and Banian (Hindu). The majority speak Hindi or Gujarati, although some other Indian dialects are also spoken. Nowadays the younger generations speak at least three languages, including French, Gujarati and Malagasy. A large number of the Indians in Madagascar have a high level of education, particularly the younger generation.
About half the population of Madagascar practices traditional religions, which tend to emphasize links between the living and the dead. They believe that the dead join their ancestors in the ranks of divinity and that ancestors are intensely concerned with the fate of their living descendants. This spiritual communion is celebrated by the Merina and Betsileo reburial practice of famadihana, or "turning over the dead". In this ritual, relatives' remains are removed from the family tomb, rewrapped in new silk shrouds, and returned to the tomb following festive ceremonies in their honor. In the festivities, they eat, drink, and literally dance with the dead. After one or two days of celebrating, they shower the body with gifts and rebury it.
About 41% of the Malagasy are Christian. They are divided almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant, but there are also Orthodox Christians. Many incorporate the cult of the dead with their other religious beliefs and bless their dead at church before proceeding with the traditional burial rites. They also may invite a pastor to attend a famadihana. A historical rivalry exists between the predominantly Catholic masses, considered to be underprivileged, and the predominantly Protestant Merina aristocrats, who tend to prevail in the civil service, business, and professions.
Followers of Islam constitute approximately 7% of the population. They are mostly concentrated in the north, northwest, and southeast.
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 59.45 years
male: 57.72 years
female: 61.33 years (2006 est.)
noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)
Ethnic groups: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), coastal ethnics (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Desi, Creole, Comorian, Chinese
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 80%
female: 73% (1990 est.)
Largest cities or towns in Madagascar
|1||Antananarivo||Analamanga||1 391 433||
|4||Fianarantsoa||Haute Matsiatra||167 227|
The largest city in Madagascar is Antananarivo. The next largest cities are Toamasina, Antsirabe, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, and Toliara.