Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population.
Since 1992 the nation has officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However, in a popular uprising in 2009 the last elected president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina in a move widely viewed by the international community as a coup d'état.
In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated at just over 22 million, 90% of whom live on less than two dollars per day. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater investments in education, health and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar's development strategy.
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between Madagascar and Mozambique. The channel is approximately 460 km (286 miles) across at its narrowest point between Angoche, Mozambique, and Tambohorano, Madagascar. The channel reaches a depth of 3,292 m (10,800 feet) about 230 km (143 mi) off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of South Africa. It is around 1000 miles (1600 km) long and the width of it varies from 250–600 miles (400–950 km). Thane Williams and Jonno Proudfoot will each attempt to simultaneously cross the Mozambique Channel from Mozambique to Madagascar in March-April 2014 in a 500 km stage swim.