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Research Paper on Natural Disasters in Madagascar

Research Paper on Natural Disasters in Madagascar -...

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Geography and Disasters of Madagascar
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Introduction For many, Africa brings upon the sense of unknown. Other then the violence and AIDS media coverage associated with Africa, most Americans do not typically think or involve themselves with any country of Africa. Prior to the blockbuster hit, Madagascar , the fascinating country of Madagascar went undetected by most Americans. While in the movie, Madagascar seemed like tropical paradise, the nation certainly shares similar socioeconomic problems with other African countries. The country’s economy relies almost solely upon agriculture and has a massive population living below the poverty line. In addition, the country remains extremely vulnerable to high mortality in disasters and outbreaks of deadly diseases. Madagascar is susceptible to natural disasters such as, cyclones, droughts, and epidemics due to certain geographical and social characteristics of the country. The goal of this research paper is to reveal the underlying social and geographical structures of Madagascar contributing to the country’s vulnerability to natural and technological disasters. Social Context The isolated tropical island of Madagascar is located off the east coast of Africa, east of Mozambique. The nation gained its’ independence from France in 1960 and became the Republic of Madagascar; its’ government is still run like the French civil law system. Not surprisingly, the official language of the country is French. As of July 2004, Madagascar is home to about 18,040,341 citizens (CIA 2006). The nation is comprised of many different ethnic groups, including the, Merina, Malayo-Indonesian, Cotiers, French, Indian, Creole, and Comoran. “The society as a whole remains divided into a number of unequal social groups based entirely on descent. Among the Merina,
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Madagascar's dominant ethnic group, the social groups are referred to as the andriana (nobles), the hova (commoners), and the andevo (slaves or, more properly, the descendants of slaves)” (Congress 1998). Within the family, rank is determined by age and gender; children of Madagascar who do not respect their elders can be severely punished. Like many undeveloped countries, the population has a much larger discrepancy in age distribution than countries such as the United States. 0-14 years, 20.40% 15-64 years, 67.20% 65 years and over, 12.50% 0-14 years, 44.80% 15-64 years, 52.20% 65 years and over, 3% Age Distribution Comparison Madagascar United States
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* (CIA 2006)
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As displayed in the graph above, Madagascar’s population has great incongruence in age distribution compared to the United States. Approximately 44.8% of Madagascar’s population is filled by children under the age of fourteen. Having such an unbalanced distribution of ages greatly inhibits countries from proper response and preparation for disasters and other high pressure situations, in addition to subjecting the country to high mortality rates when a disaster does occur. While Madagascar’s age distribution is quite unbalanced, the gender ratio of the country is relatively even; there is .99 male per every female (CIA 2006).
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