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Madagascar flagMalagasy is the main language of  the island nation of Madagascar, which lies off the coast of Africa. It`s the native language of 18 million people, including most of the people of Madagascar, as well as some on the island of Mayotte and the Comoros Islands.

In Madagascar it is co-official with French, but Malagasy is the language of everyday life.


Language Family

Many people are surprised to learn Malagasy is a member of the Austronesian language family, despite its location off the coast of Africa. It is a part of the group of East Barito languages, which are part of the Malayo Polynesian branch. The other East Barito languages are all found on the island of Borneo (in modern day Malaysia and Indonesia).

Madagascar was settled by Southeast Asian people over a thousand years ago, and most people have both Southeast Asian and East African roots. This explains the presence of an Austronesian language so far outside of Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Malagasy is the westernmost Austronesian language.


Map of the Austronesian Language Family:


Austronesian language map


Map of Madagascar and Surroundings (Comoros Islands and Mayotte to the Northwest):


madagascar map comoros islands mayotte