SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

History of Madagascar

The history of Madagascar is distinguished by the early isolation of the landmass from the ancient supercontinent containing Africa and India, by the island's late colonization by human settlers arriving in outrigger canoes from the Sunda islands between 200 BCE and 500 CE. These two factors facilitated the evolution and survival of thousands of endemic plant and animal species, some of which have gone extinct or are threatened with extinction due to the pressures of a growing human population. Over the past two thousand years the island has received waves of settlers of diverse origins including Austronesian, Arab, South Asian and European; the majority of the population of Madagascar today is a mixture of Austronesian, North Indian and Somali settlers. Centuries of intermarriages created the Malagasy people, who speak Malagasy, an Austronesian language with Bantu, Arabic and English influences. Most of the genetic makeup of the average Malagasy, reflects an equal blend of Austronesian and Bantu in coastal regions.

Other populations intermixed with the existent population to a more limited degree or have sought to preserve a separate community from the majority Malagasy. By the Middle Ages, over a dozen predominant ethnic identities had emerged on the island, typified by rule under a local chieftain. Among some communities, such as the Sakalava and Betsimisaraka, leaders seized the opportunity to unite these disparate communities and establish true kingdoms under their rule; these kingdoms increased their wealth and power through exchanges with European and other seafaring traders, whether they were legitimate vessels or pirates. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, pirate activity in the coastal areas of Madagascar was common; the purported free pirate colony of Libertatia was established on Île Sainte-Marie populated by local Malagasy. The Sakalava and Merina kingdoms in particular exploited European trade to strengthen the power of their kingdoms, trading Malagasy slaves in exchange for European firearms and other goods.

Throughout this time and Arab seafarers operating in the Indian Ocean traded with coastal communities, Europeans made several unsuccessful attempts to claim and colonize the island. Beginning in the early 19th century, the British and French colonial empires competed for influence in Madagascar. By the turn of the 19th century, King Andrianampoinimerina had reunited the populous Kingdom of Imerina, located in the central highlands with its capital at Antananarivo, his son, Radama I, began to exert its authority over the island's other polities and was the first Malagasy sovereign to be recognized by a foreign power as the ruler of the greater Merina Kingdom. Over the 19th century, a series of Merina monarchs engaged in the process of modernization through close diplomatic ties to Britain that led to the establishment of European-style schools, government institutions and infrastructure. Christianity, introduced by members of the London Missionary Society, was made the state religion under Queen Ranavalona II and her prime minister influential statesman Rainilaiarivony.

Political wrangling between Britain and France in the 1880s saw Britain recognize France's claim to authority on the island, leading in 1890 to the Malagasy Protectorate, unrecognized by the government of Madagascar. The French launched two military campaigns known as the Franco-Hova Wars to force submission capturing the capital in September 1895; this sparked the widespread Menalamba rebellion against French rule, crushed in 1897. Following conquest, the French abolished Slavery in 1896 and 500,000 slaves were freed. In French Madagascar, Malagasy were required to fulfill corvée labor on French-run plantations, which generated high revenues for the colonial administration. Opportunities for Malagasy to access education or skilled positions within the colonial structure were limited, although some basic services like schools and clinics were extended to coastal areas for the first time; the capital city was transformed and modernized, the royal palaces were transformed into a school and a museum.

Although Malagasy were prevented from forming political parties, several militant nationalist secret societies emerged, of which the most prominent was Vy Vato Sakelika, founded by Ny Avana Ramanantoanina. Many Malagasy were conscripted to fight for France in World Wars I and II, during the latter Madagascar came under Vichy control before being captured and held by the British in the Battle of Madagascar. At the Brazzaville Conference of 1944, Charles de Gaulle gave colonies the status of overseas territory and the right to representatives in the French National Assembly; the country gained full independence from France in 1960 in the wake of decolonization. Under the leadership of President Philibert Tsiranana, Madagascar's First Republic was established as a democratic system modeled on that of France; this period was characterized by continued economic and cultural dependence upon France, provoking resentment and sparking the rotaka, popular movements among farmers and students that ushered in the socialist Democratic Republic of Madagascar under Admiral Didier Ratsiraka disting

Constitution of the British Virgin Islands

The Constitution of the British Virgin Islands is a predominantly codified constitution documented within the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007 a statutory instrument of the United Kingdom. The 2007 Constitution was the fourth written constitution of the British Virgin Islands, superseded the 1976 constitution. In addition to the constitution itself a number of the constitutional powers of the British Virgin Islands government are specified a "letter of entrustment" from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which delegates powers to the British Virgin Islands government to represent itself in certain external affairs; the 2007 Constitution was adopted as part of a wider consultation between the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. Accordingly, the Constitution is in similar form to the constitutions of a number of other British dependent territories; the Constitution came into force following the dissolution of the old Legislative Council prior to the 2007 general election.

The new constitution adopted new nomenclature: the Chief Minister was renamed the Premier, the Executive Council was renamed Cabinet and the Legislative Council was renamed the House of Assembly. The Constitution is framed on the classic "separation of powers" precept, although as with other Westminster system constitutions, there is a blurring of the distinctions between legislature and executive; the British Virgin Islands has had four written constitutions during its modern history. Although prior to 1954 various constitutional arrangements were made for the Territory in relation to its former colonial legislatures and executive councils, there are few direct records remaining in relation to those provisions. From 1901, when the original Legislative Council was formally dissolved, until 1950 the Territory was administered as part of the Leeward Islands Federation through the Governor of the Leeward Islands. Following civil unrest in 1947 the Territory was granted its first modern written constitution in 1950, although at this time it still remained part of the wider Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands.

The main purpose of the 1950 Constitution was to re-devolve power back to the reformed Legislative Council in the British Virgin Islands from the Governor of the Leeward Islands. It is regarded a holding measure, it was famously described by McWelling Todman QC as "an instrument minimal in its intent and its effect." It was a part of the process that led to the more fundamental constitutional change. In 1954 the Constitution and Elections Act, 1954 was passed, which provided for universal adult suffrage for the first time in the Territory's history; the British Government had hoped that after the Leeward Islands Federation was abolished in 1956 the British Virgin Islands would join the new Federation of the West Indies, but there was little enthusiasm for that, so the 1967 Constitution was promulgated. The 1967 Constitution was replaced by a revised and updated Constitution which came into force on 1 June 1977, the 1976 Constitution was amended at various points, including in 1994 pursuant to the Elections Act, 1994 to introduce "at-large" representatives into the legislature.

The 1976 constitution was in turn superseded in 2007 by the current form which came into force on 15 June 2007. The constitution provides for a unicameral House of Assembly based upon representative democracy and a multi-party system; the head of state is the British Monarch, represented in the Territory by the Governor. The Governor appoints as Premier and head of government the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Assembly. Executive authority is vested in the Cabinet which consists of the Premier, four other Ministers appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Premier, the Attorney General, ex officio. Prior to the commencement of Chapter I the Constitution contains a number of recitals relating to the heritage of the British Virgin Islands, which includes a professed national belief in God; the second paragraphs of the recitals contains the words: The recitals contain an express statement: "the people of the territory of the Virgin Islands have over centuries evolved with a distinct cultural identity, the essence of a Virgin Islander".

This operates as a preludes to various provisions in the Constitution which reserve specific rights of privileges to Belongers. The remainder of the recitals are more generic and common in form to the constitutions of other British Overseas Territories, including "respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law", the "quest for social justice, economic empowerment and political advancement", governance based upon "based on adherence to well-established democratic principles and institutions" and " country based on qualities of honesty, mutual respect, self-reliance"; the first chapter of the Constitution sets out a number of defined terms and applicable principles. This includes the definition of "belonger status" under British Virgin Islands law; the second chapter, made up of articles 9–34, lays out the fundamental rights and freedoms of those in the British Virgin Islands. The wording is broadly taken from documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, although there is a greater emphasis on the right of self-determination.

Chapter II expressly reserves the right to the British Virgin Islands Government to legislate in a way whi

Almádena

Almádena is a village located in Portugal's western Algarve. Administratively, it is part of the civil parish of Luz, the municipality of Lagos. According to certain authorities, the toponym'Almádena' has an Arabic origin, like many place names in the area; the name is assumed to derive from the Arabic word for minaret. The village is located in the Vale de Barão, it lies 3 km north of the fishing village of Burgau and 4 km from Luz itself, just outside of the boundary of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. Almádena's location is on the edge of fertile sedimentary deposits including the'ribeiras' of Almádena, of Burgau and of the Vale de Barão. Anecdotal evidence suggest that, in the past, the land was fruitful and that Almádena's inhabitants were the richest in the freguesia of Luz but this may be because they were hard working. Local farmers' focused on fig cultivation rather than almonds, olives or carob beans, which were more ubiquitous to the east. However, one additional crop, rice and was grown in the irrigable lowlands south west of the village.

Almádena resembles many rural villages in the Algarve. Its housing stock consists of small white houses with traditional chimneys, a domestic architectural style influenced by the Moorish occupation of the area up to the thirteenth century. There is a small market for farmers' produce and a community centre in the heart of the village as well as several bars and restaurants; the main square in the village, has as its centre-piece a traditional farm well. Nearby buildings of interest include Quinta das Alagoas: A fourteenth century fortified farmhouse and known locally as the " Roman Farm", now converted into holiday accommodation; some brickwork found on the site suggests that its origins could indeed go back as far as roman times. Pictures of Almádena: Places in the South West Algarve