The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...
, a member of the Austronesian family of languages. Most people in Madagascar speak it as a first language as do some people of Malagasy
The Malagasy ethnic group forms nearly the entire population of Madagascar. They are divided into two subgroups: the "Highlander" Merina, Sihanaka and Betsileo of the central plateau around Antananarivo, Alaotra and Fianarantsoa, and the côtiers elsewhere in the country. This division has its...
The Malagasy language is not related to nearby African languages, instead being the westernmost member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch
The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. These are widely dispersed throughout the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia...
of the Austronesian language family
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...
, a fact noted as long ago as 1708 by the Dutch scholar Adriaan van Reeland.