7,520,000 in Madagascar (2006). Population total all countries: 7,529,640.
Central. Also in Comoros (Malagasy), Mayotte (Malagasy), Réunion (Malagasy), United States.
1 (National). Statutory national language (2010, Provisional Constitution, Article 6), use limited in higher education.
Betsileo, Bezanozano, Merina, Sihanaka, Tanala, Vakinankaritra. The most similar language outside Madagascar is Ma’anyan [mhy] in south Borneo (Kalimantan, Indonesia).
The standard is most similar to the Merina dialect, with loans incorporated from Bantu languages, Swahili [swh], Arabic, English, French. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim.