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Kingdom of Imerina, Merina, is a large island kingdom in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. The capital is Ambohimanga and the population is around 2.2 million.
The Head of State is King Radama VI.
The official language is Merinan however most of the dialects spoken on the island are mutually intelligible.
The currency is the Merinan Iraimbillanja (IMI)
Amazingly first colonized not by people from mainland Africa but by seafarers from Borneo in around 350 AD, the island of it is believed to be one of the last landmasses in the world to be colonized. Waves of settlers added to the island over the centuries and a multitude of small warring kingdom states appeared as agriculture and domestic cattle changed the forests into pasture and paddy fields.
By the mid-18th century the central kingdom of Imerina had shrugged off its previous obscurity and thanks to several ruthless rulers brought the entire island under its authority. On the one hand it embraced the cultural benefits that contact with Europe could bring, such as an alphabet, military reform and industry, but it also recognized that they should not have too much influence over the country. In that regard foreigners were barred from entering all but the port of Antananarivo and the promotion of Christianity was made illegal. Mostly the European nations demurred; the favorable trade policies remained in place. However Anglia ramped up its colonization of various Indian Ocean Islands in response (see Anglian Indian Ocean Islands) and would defend the Comoros Islands against Merinan forces in 1903. There have been various other 'close scrapes' which have pitched Anglian forces against the island. In general however Merina has restricted its foreign ventures to combating piracy and helping expand its trading links.
Merina has struggled with slowly liberalising its structures and vast vanity projects built by its rulers often using slave labour, and has often lapsed back into autocracy as its nobility has strenuously opposed any change to the status quo. In 2005 a new constitution was formalised and power definitively given to the Parliament. This arrangement is still shaky and the king has been accused of flaunting the constitution on more than one occasion.
The country has considerable mineral wealth and it is hoped by many politicians that spreading the wealth to the population will stabilise its society.
A constitutional monarchy, the parliament is elected by a narrow franchise every seven years.
The current Head of State is King Radama VI and his Prime Minister is Herilaza Rakotoarimanana.