ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
The percentage of the active population (almost three quarters of the workforce) that weighs on the countryside is very high, even if only 6% of the territorial surface is cultivated; the poverty of the land, the result in large part of the degradation of the soil caused by man with the decimation of the forest mantle and the consequent formation of vast laterite areas subject to erosion, makes the situation of Malagasy agriculture even more dramatic. The absolute majority of the rural population is dedicated to pure subsistence agriculture; rice cultivation prevails, which provides the main food product of the Malagasy but still insufficient to cover the internal needs (Madagascar records a per capita consumption of rice among the highest in the world). According to a2zcamerablog, Madagascar is a country located in Africa. This cereal is grown in both irrigated and non-irrigated areas; in the latter case, however, the yields are very low. For local consumption, cassava, yams, potatoes, legumes and various vegetables, bananas and numerous other fruit products (citrus fruits, pineapples, grapes, plums, etc.) are also grown. From an economic point of view, commercial crops are much more important, practiced by both large companies and small farmers. This applies to coffee, the main export product, whose best growing area is located on the eastern and northern hillsides; sugar cane is also widespread in the same area; other textile plants present are sisalana agave and kenaf. Among the oilseeds, peanut and tung have a certain consistency. In the northwestern area and in various areas of the plateau, tobacco is widespread. Relevant is the cultivation of cocoa in the northern coastal strip, which is also the typical environment of the coconut palm, while especially from the eastern coastal region come the spices, which represent a fundamental voice of Malagasy agriculture: the most important is vanilla, followed by cloves, pepper, cinnamon etc. Typical are the essences extracted from plants such as geranium, lemon-grass, ylang-ylang etc. § Forest resources, despite the indiscriminate exploitation carried out in colonial times, are still huge, rich in precious woodworking essences, such as mahogany, rosewood and ebony. § Widespread is the breeding, especially of cattle, mostly Malagasy zebu, which are used both for the production of meat and for agricultural work. Extensive are the areas of grass and permanent pasture; the western mountainous side and the plateau are the most suitable areas for breeding. In addition to cattle, the livestock patrimony includes goats, found above all in the driest southwestern areas, sheep, pigs and poultry. § In fishing, practiced both along the coasts and in inland waters, in particular in the area of Lake Itasy, shrimp fishing has become one of the most important export items.
ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
Although government efforts aimed at providing the country with a modern manufacturing industry have intensified, even with the creation of some French zones, the sector is very deficient, contributing only to a small part to the formation of national income. Small and medium-sized companies clearly prevail, which mostly use local agricultural products (sugar mills, oil mills, canneries, tobacco factories, cotton mills, breweries, distilleries, etc.); then there are some cement factories, an oil refinery that processes imported crude oil (in Toamasina), factories for the assembly of motor vehicles, woodworking plants, etc. § Although the island is endowed with various minerals, the overall resources of the subsoil are modest, the exploitation of which is hampered by transport difficulties. chromite, present in various areas and of which Madagascar has one of the most important deposits in the world, graphite, mica and uranothorianite, used for the nuclear industry; gold, ilmenite and various precious stones are then extracted (beryls, zircons, tourmalines, garnets, amethysts); the sapphire mines, discovered in 1998, are becoming an increasingly important resource. The existence of oil fields has recently been ascertained. From an energy point of view, the island has a significant water potential: two thirds of the energy produced is of water origin.
ECONOMY: TRADE, COMMUNICATIONS AND TOURISM
The trade balance is in deficit as imports significantly exceed exports. The country mainly exports raw materials, minerals and food products (coffee, shrimp, etc.) while it mainly imports raw materials, fuels, industrial equipment and chemicals. The exchange takes place mainly with Western countries and mostly with France. § A particularly lacking sector is that of communication routes; the basic infrastructures are still partly those of the colonial era. The roads are also only partially efficient; the network adapts to the territorial organization, with its summit in the capital, from which the lines towards the coastal centers radiate, developing for approx. 50,000 km in 2001 of which only 5,800 were asphalted. Among these the main port is Toamasina, followed by Mahajanga, Antsirañana and Toliara. Relevant are the air services, which connect the capital (home to an international airport) to the major centers of the island. § Tourism is growing rapidly and represents a potential that is still only partially exploited from an economic point of view, even if from the 1990s to 2007 the hotel facilities more than doubled. Antananarivo and the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy (Sainte Marie) are the most popular destinations: in 2004 Madagascar recorded approx. 224,000 admissions.