Madagascar is a sovereign nation that lies two-hundred and fifty miles off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. With a land area over 226,000 square miles, slightly smaller than Texas, it is the fourth largest island in the world. Although a small country, the population is around 20.6 million which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.

The Malagasy people are the original inhabitants of Madagascar, having migrated there over fifteen hundred years ago. The Malagasy are of Indonesian descent, and the Malagasy Language has roots in Malay. It is believed that the Malagasy ancestors migrated through India, the Middle East, down the east coast of Africa and finally settled in Madagascar. Europeans did not discover Madagascar until the early 1500’s by a lost Portuguese ship.

During the 1800’s Protestant and Catholic missionaries evangelized Madagascar, incidentally both have been the State religion at one point. Today less than half of the population claim Protestant or Catholic affiliation. Over fifty percent of the people practice their traditional ethnic religions, often mixed with Protestantism or Catholicism.

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