The island of Madagascar is a state of the Indian Ocean, situated almost entirely in the Intertropical zone, and in the vicinity of the east coast of the African continent to which the geographers attach it. In reality, Madagascar, by the nature of its soil, its flora and fauna, constitutes a small continent apart.
Its longest length, from Northeast to Southwest, is 1,515 kilometres, and its average width from East to West is 470 kilometres; surface area : 587,040 km2. Madagascar is a republic which is administratively divided into 6 provinces (faritany) : Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina, and Toliara. The capital is Antanananarivo (Tananarivo). Other major cities : Antsiranana (e.g. Diego Suarez), Mahajanga (Majunga), Manakara, Toamasina (Tamatave), Toliara (Tuéar). Total population: 20.6 million (2009).