Madagascar, the name of a large island in the Indian Ocean, 230 miles from the east coast of Africa. The inhabitants, called Malagasy (q.v.), form a single race, but are divided up into tribes. The capital is Antananarivo. In 1820, during the reign of Radama I., Christian missionaries began to teach, but in 1828 his wife Ranavalona closed the island to Europeans and persecuted the Christians. Her son, Radama II., reopened the island and freed the slaves. The principal exports are cattle, hides, indiarubber, rice, and valuable woods. It is now under a French protectorate (1890).