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Madagascar People - 2024


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28,812,195 (2023 est.)


noun: Malagasy (singular and plural)

adjective: Malagasy

Ethnic groups

Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran


Malagasy (official) 99.9%, French (official) 23.6%, English 8.2%, other 0.6% (2018 est.)

note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census


Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar/Malagasy Lutheran Church/Anglican Church 34%, Roman Catholic 32.3%, other Christian 8.1%, traditional/Animist 1.7%, Muslim 1.4%, other 0.6%, none 21.9% (2021 est.)

Demographic profile

Madagascar’s youthful population – nearly 60% are under the age of 25 as of 2020 – and moderately high total fertility rate of more than 3.6 children per woman ensures that the Malagasy population will continue its rapid growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Many young Malagasy girls are withdrawn from school, marry early (often pressured to do so by their parents), and soon begin having children. Early childbearing, coupled with Madagascar’s widespread poverty and lack of access to skilled health care providers during delivery, increases the risk of death and serious health problems for young mothers and their babies.

Child marriage perpetuates gender inequality and is prevalent among the poor, the uneducated, and rural households – as of 2018, 40% of Malagasy women aged 20 to 24 were married. Although the legal age for marriage is 18, parental consent is often given for earlier marriages or the law is flouted, especially in rural areas that make up approximately 60% of the country. Forms of arranged marriage whereby young girls are married to older men in exchange for oxen or money are traditional. If a union does not work out, a girl can be placed in another marriage, but the dowry paid to her family diminishes with each unsuccessful marriage.

Madagascar’s population consists of 18 main ethnic groups, all of whom speak the same Malagasy language. Most Malagasy are multi-ethnic, however, reflecting the island’s diversity of settlers and historical contacts (see Background). Madagascar’s legacy of hierarchical societies practicing domestic slavery (most notably the Merina Kingdom of the 16th to the 19th century) is evident today in persistent class tension, with some ethnic groups maintaining a caste system. Slave descendants are vulnerable to unequal access to education and jobs, despite Madagascar’s constitutional guarantee of free compulsory primary education and its being party to several international conventions on human rights. Historical distinctions also remain between central highlanders and coastal people.

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.47% (male 5,451,018/female 5,343,865)

15-64 years: 58.72% (male 8,481,873/female 8,437,644)

65 years and over: 3.81% (2023 est.) (male 506,495/female 591,300)

2023 population pyramid:

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 74.5

youth dependency ratio: 68.8

elderly dependency ratio: 5.8

potential support ratio: 17.4 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 21 years (2023 est.)

male: 20.9 years

female: 21.2 years

Population growth rate

2.22% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

28.1 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

5.9 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

most of population lives on the eastern half of the island; significant clustering is found in the central highlands and eastern coastline as shown in this


urban population: 40.6% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 4.26% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

3.872 million ANTANANARIVO (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.5 years (2021 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality ratio

392 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 38.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 41.6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 34.8 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 68.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 67.1 years

female: 69.9 years

Total fertility rate

3.55 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

1.75 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

49.7% (2020)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 85% of population

rural: 38% of population

total: 56.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 15% of population

rural: 62% of population

total: 43.9% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.9% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.2 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

0.2 beds/1,000 population

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 49.2% of population

rural: 22.1% of population

total: 32.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 50.8% of population

rural: 77.9% of population

total: 67.4% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

note: on 31 August 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; Madagascar is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.3% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.89 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.5 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.07 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.32 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 27.8% (2020 est.)

male: 42.7% (2020 est.)

female: 12.8% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

22.6% (2021)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

60.1% (2023 est.)

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 12.7%

women married by age 18: 38.8%

men married by age 18: 11.2% (2021 est.)

Education expenditures

3.1% of GDP (2020 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 77.3%

male: 78.8%

female: 75.8% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 10 years

female: 10 years (2018)

NOTE: The information regarding Madagascar on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Madagascar 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Madagascar 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.