Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960. The first republic, led by a social democratic government, gave way to a military dictatorship during the years 1972-75, which in turn was replaced by a strongly socialist-dominated government under President Didier Ratsiraka. Under his leadership Madagascar adopted a new constitution and became a presidential republic. Being forced out of office after the first free elections in 1992/93 by Albert Zafy, Ratsiraka was the elected President of the country once again between 1997 and 2002. The presidential elections in 2001 were followed by civil war-like riots and after a second vote count opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana was finally declared president in 2002. After the abdication of Ravalomanana due to internal disturbances and the increasingly loud criticism of his opponents, in March 2009, the mayor of Antananarivo – Andry Rajoelina –took over as "President of the High Transitional Authority" (Haute Autorité de transition, HAT) with support from the army. The coup was condemned unanimously by the international community, which lead to an increased isolation of the government on the international scene, including the suspension of Madagascar’s membership in SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the AU. In September 2011, all political actors (except Ratsiraka) signed a "roadmap" for a return to rule of law and democracy. Presidential elections were finally held in two rounds on October 25th and December 20th, 2013. Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina, who had emerged as the winner, became President of Madagascar in January 2014.
Relations between Austria and Madagascar are amicable. Austria opened an Honorary Consulate in Antananarivo in 2005. State Secretary Hans Winkler met Foreign Minister Ranjeva Razanakombana in 2007 in Antananarivo.
In 2016, Austrian exports amounted to € 1.44 million, consisting mainly of motorcycles, paper, machines, and measuring instruments, whereas imports stood at € 8.25 million and consisted predominantly of cocoa, tea, coffee, spices, fruits, clothing, and nickel. OMV has been investing in an offshore exploration block west of the island since 2013 and now holds a 90% stake of the “Grand Prix” offshore exploration block.
Being one of the world's poorest countries, Madagascar is heavily dependent on international aid. The ODA flows to Madagascar currently account for 7.2% of the GNI. This share has been decreasing with some ups and downs since 2004 (30%). Even though there is no specific country programme by the Austrian Development Agency for Madagascar, some Austrian activities have taken place over the past years. Sporadic grants and scholarships have been awarded in recent times, e.g. by the Professional Pedagogical Institute Mödling for a Training-of-Trainers course. Furthermore, there are four SOS children’s villages in Madagascar: in Antsirabe, Fort Dauphin, Mangarano, and in Vontovorona.
Madagascar is member of UNESCO since 1960. It is known for its lively music scene. The most important event in this field is the annual jazz festival. Young teachers from Austrian can apply for an internship for “German as a Foreign Language (DaF)” in Madagascar.