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Located off the South Eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the world’s fifth biggest island. Historically, the island played a key role for international traders dating back to Asian and Persian traders in the 7th century. Madagascar subsequently served as a pirate stronghold in the 17th century and a major slave trading center into the 18th century. Madagascar was conquered and colonized by the French colonial empire in the 16th century but regained independence in 1960.