The first railway in Madagascar opened in 1909 between the island's capital, Antananarivo, and Brickaville, a distance of over 200km. It was built to metre gauge, as were all subsequent lines on the island.
By 1923 there was a network of 3 lines in the northern part of the island, totalling 673km of route. During the 1920s and 1930s, a separate 163km line was built in the south of the island. All lines came under government control in the 1940s.
In the early years of the 21st century the system was part privatized. The northern group of line under Madarail operates regular passenger, freight and tourist services. The FCE line operates a freight and occasional tourist passenger services, but is in a run down state and in need of rehabilitation, which is planned. In 2018 a memorandum of understanding was signed for a new line between Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa, connecting the two networks.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook