Madagascar

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Republic of Madagascar

This country is currently the Republic of Madagascar, although in former times it was known as the Malagasy Republic. It is believed the island was first inhabited by Bantu-speaking settlers crossing from present day Mozambique, although there is some evidence to suggest previous inhabitants. Arabs and other East Africans first made contact with the native tribes during the 7th century, when trading posts were first established along the island's coasts. Several chiefdoms were established during the Middle Ages, each laying claims to control over large areas of the island, and growing in wealth and power proportionate to the amount of trade they were able to engage in. These powerful regional monarchs became known as the Maroserana. Portuguese explorers first made contact with the island in 1500, but they were never successful in establishing a trading colony. From around 1774 to 1824, however, Madagascar was a favorite haunt for pirates, who raided along the entire African east coast.

King Radama I, son of the Merina King Andrianampoinimerina, is credited with expanding his rule over neighboring principalities and bringing the entire nation under one monarch. Radama radified a treaty with the British governor of Mauritius to abolish slavery, and throughout the 19th century an influx of European artisans and educators helped modernize the nation and institute literacy classes for some of the population. His successor, Queen Ranavalona I, however, issued a royal edict prohibiting the practice of Christianity and expelling all foreigners from the island, leaving the island open to harsh criticism and colonialism in the years to come.

France invaded the island in 1883 in what became known as the Franco-Hova War, by the end of which French forces overthrew the ruling monarchy and established the nation as a French protectorate in 1896. The French continued modernization by establishing plantations for various export crops, and constructing schools, railways, roads and other modern conveniences. Between 1947 and 1948, however, a wave of nationalism spread over the population and the French response to the Malagasy Uprising caused tens of thousands of deaths. By 1956, however, France was open to a peaceful movement towards independence, which was eventually attained on June 26, 1960.

The Madagascar People's Armed Forces consist of an Army, and a small Navy and Air Force. There is also a National Gendarmerie, organized along French lines. The armed forces were formerly known as the Malagasy Defence Force.

Camouflage Patterns of Madagascar

  • The oldest known camouflage patterns worn by the Tafika Malagasy (Malagasy Defence Force) are variations of the French tenue de leópard or lizard pattern, which has been in use at least since the 1980s, if not earlier. Several variations have been documented, some with more green, yellow or brown domination of the design. The lizard camouflage has in large part been phased out by more contemporary designs, but is still occasionally encountered.

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  • Malagasy troops have also been documented wearing the Chinese-made crude copy of "lizard" camouflage, commonly encountered today throughout many parts of Africa.

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  • Circa 2006, at least some members of the Armed Forces wore a woodland pattern camouflage F1 style uniform. The version noted has a pale green background color, vice the usual khaki color.

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  • Woodland-inspired camouflage worn by the PLA also appears to be worn by some units of the Malagasy Defence Force.

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  • Another contemporary pattern is a copy of the French CE woodland design, produced in Asia.

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