Independence Day in Madagascar Date in the current year: June 26, 2019

Independence Day in Madagascar The Republic of Madagascar celebrates its Independence Day on June 26. On this day in 1960, Madagascar proclaimed its independence from France and the establishment of the Malagasy Republic.

Madagascar is located on the eponymous island and a number of smaller peripheral islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The country’s written history begins in the 7th century when Omani Arabs established several trading posts on the island and introduced Islam, the Arabic script and elements of Arab culture. Although Omani immigrants were few in number compared to the native population (Bantus and Austronesians), they left a lasting impression on Madagascar.

The first Europeans to set foot on the island were the Portuguese in 1500. On August 10 (Saint Lawrence’s Day), Diogo Dias landed on the island and named it São Lourenço in honor of the saint. However, the name Madagascar that had been recorded by Marco Polo two centuries prior was preferred by cartographers and explorers.

The English and the French tried to establish settlements on Madagascar, but failed because of the trying arid climate, disease and hostile local population. However, the French East India Company did manage to establish a number of trading posts along the east coast of Madagascar in the late 17th century.

Meanwhile, local chiefs began to extend their power and founded several kingdoms that battled for dominance. In the late 18th century, King Andrianampoinimerina and his son Radama united nearly all of Madagascar under the rule of the Merina people. Radama I signed several treaties with the United Kingdom and was officially recognized by the British government.

Throughout the 19th century, the Kingdom of Madagascar gradually transformed from a small local monarchy into a modern-type state. In 1885, Queen Ranavalona III signed a treaty of alliance with France, which led to the imposition of a French protectorate over the island and the eventual establishment of the Colony of Madagascar and Dependencies, commonly referred to as French Madagascar, in 1897.

During the Second World War, Malagasy troops fought in France, Syria and Morocco. After the German occupation of France, the island was administered by the collaborationist Vichy government from 1940 to 1942. After that, it was occupied by the British troops, who handed over control of Madagascar to Free France in 1943.

After the war, the Malagasy people began to struggle for their independence. The Malagasy Uprising of 1947–1948 was repressed by the colonial authorities, but in 1958, France agreed to grant Madagascar autonomy within the French Community, and on June 26, 1960, the country achieved full independence.

Madagascar’s Independence Day is a public holiday celebrated with concerts, military parades, colorful festivals, firework displays. One of the main highlights of the day is a presentation of Malagasy folklore, where performers in traditional attire combine song, dance and traditional folk tales. Festive events are held throughout the country, but the largest celebration takes place in the capital city of Antananarivo.

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