Madagascar, or Republic of Madagascar (older name Malagasy Republic), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
Archaeologists generally say Madagascar was first inhabited sometime 300BC - 500AD, by Austronesian peoples who arrived on outrigger canoes. Since, there have been many Bantu and Arab influences and population inter-mixture. Madagascar was ruled by the local Merina kingdom in the 19th century and was part of the French colonial empire from 1890 to 1960, when the current Republic of Madagascar became independent.
The local language spoken by the majority of the population Malagasy is an Austronesian language and one of the official languages. The other official languages are French, official since independence, and English, official since 2007.
The main religions are Malagasy mythology and Christianity but there also minorities of other religions, most significantly Islam.
Madagascar is home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar. They include the lemur infra-order of primates, the carnivorous fossil, three bird families and six baobab species.
The national anthem of Madagascar is "Ry Tanindraza nay malala ô" (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland). The music of the national anthem was composed by Norbert Raharisoa (1914-1963) a music teacher and professor. The words were written by Pasteur Rahajason, a priest. It was first performed in the public when Madagascar was declared an autonomous republic within the Union Francaise. The music is in marching tempo and is often played by Malagasy musicians on accordion. The parliament officially adopted the anthem on April 27,1959. Therefore Madagascar already had a national anthem when it achieved full independence on 26th June 1960.
The stamp above features the composer of the National anthem Norbert Raharisoa on the piano. This first day cover was issued in March 23, 1967. Below is a signed proof of the stamp of the people of Madagascar singing their anthem.