According to threergroup, the current population is due to various migratory waves of Australo-Melanesian and Indonesian groups. The first (represented by the coffin, by the sakalavas, etc.) came perhaps in the second millennium BC. C., followed by betsileo, tsimihety etc. The most recent migrations were those that introduced the merina, perhaps originating from Java, to the island: they form the dominant group today, settled in the central plateau, in the land that takes its name from them, the Imerina. They introduced their culture, the cultivation of rice, the use of the zebu in the work of the fields. The organizational structure was also that of the rice-growing peoples of monsoon Asia, Hova, name by which the merina are also known). This superior elite gradually subjugated other populations and gave birth to that kingdom that had its centers where the seats of power were, the citadels (the rova) in the heart of the plateau. The Merina, however, never managed to dominate the island in its entirety, because the other populations also had their own organization and formed very specific kingdoms, such as that of the sakalava, the betsileo, etc. Other human contributions from the outside are African ones, which can be traced above all in the populations settled in the southwestern part, such as the makua, and the Arabs, represented by groups settled on the northern coasts.
More recent have been the immigration of Comorians, Indians, Chinese and French from the island of Meeting. Despite the diverse ethnic framework due to the different origins of its components, the Malagasy population presents not only a remarkable identity of somatic characters, the result of long mixing with the oldest populations of the island, but also a solid compactness among all the residents., linked in a State whose unitary structure and language (Malagasy) known to all have been accepted without reserve. The population began to increase in the first decades of the century. XX; already in 1920 it was over 3 million, passing to over 4 million twenty years later. Since then, the reduction of endemic diseases, and especially of malaria, has led to an acceleration of population growth, which has reached and exceeded 3% on an annual basis. In the eighties the population exceeded 10 million residents and already in 2006, according to an estimate, it amounted to over 17,800,000 individuals. Although Madagascar has significant potential in terms of natural resources and workforce, it continues to be one of the poorest countries in the world and the standard of living of its residents is lower than that recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. Among the residents, the main ethnic group is that of the Malagasy 95.9% (2000) divided into different groups, including: merina, betsimisaraka, betsileo, tsimihety, sakalawa, antaisaka, of the antandroy; other ethnic groups present are the Makoa 1.1% (2000), the French 0.6% (2000), the Comorians 0.5% (2000) and others 1.9% (2000). The largest groups live on the plateau, which has the highest densities. This is because rice-growing, often irrigated, is widespread on the plateau, and also because this area has become the focal area of the modern territorial organization of the island, which is part of Antananarivo.
The plateau is all scattered with characteristic villages or small nuclei formed by red mud huts, with thatched roofs, which rise next to the rice fields: the landscape recalls that of monsoon Asia in many respects. The western mountainous side is the least populated part of the island, as well as the southern section, arid, where semi-nomadic people live; breeding is widespread in these areas. On the other hand, the coastal strips are populated (except the western one), because plantation agriculture. The population density is 37 residents/km²; the rural population represents the great majority of the total, and the urban population is just over a quarter. The capital, Antananarivo, is the pivot of the island, at the same time socio-economic summit and geographical center, which gives it a certain exceptionality for a country that has known colonial economic organization, which has always favored coastal centers.; this is explained by the climatically mitigated position of Antananarivo, with the fact that it is located in the most populous area of the country and that it was also the headquarters of the main at the same time socio-economic summit and geographical center, which gives it a certain exceptionality for a country that has known colonial economic organization, which has always favored coastal centers; this is explained by the climatically mitigated position of Antananarivo, with the fact that it is located in the most populous area of the country and that it was also the headquarters of the main at the same time socio-economic summit and geographical center, which gives it a certain exceptionality for a country that has known colonial economic organization, which has always favored coastal centers; this is explained by the climatically mitigated position of Antananarivo, with the fact that it is located in the most populous area of the country and that it was also the headquarters of the main rova dei merina. In colonial times, Antananarivo was connected to the sea by a railway: hence the complementary development of Toamasina, Madagascar’s main seaport on the Atlantic Ocean, on which most of the trade in agricultural products for export gravitates. The connections with other port cities have remained less efficient (Mahajanga, at the mouth of the Betsiboka, Antsirañana, valued as a military port by the French, etc.), which mostly serve the coastal areas where commercial agriculture has developed. On the plateau, the main centers, after the capital, are Antsirabe and Fianarantsoa, the second largest city in the country, which rises on the border of the great prairies, in the center of an agricultural area.