- an island republic in the Indian Ocean, about 240 miles (385 km) off the SE coast of Africa: formerly a French colony; gained independence 1960. 227,800 sq. mi. (590,000 sq. km). Capital: Antananarivo.
- an island republic in the Indian Ocean, off the E coast of Africa: made a French protectorate in 1895; became autonomous in 1958 and fully independent in 1960; contains unique flora and fauna. Languages: Malagasy and French. Religions: animist and Christian. Currency: franc. Capital: Antananarivo. Pop: 22 599 098 (2013 est). Area: 587 041 sq km (266 657 sq miles)Official name (since 1975): Democratic Republic of Madagascar Former name (1958–75): Malagasy Republic
large island off the east coast of Africa, from Mogadishu, the name of the city in Somalia, due to an error by Marco Polo in reading Arabic, whereby he thought the name was that of the island. There is no indigenous name for the whole island. Related: Madagascan. Island republic in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. Its capital and largest city is Antananarivo.