Madagascar, large tropical island off the east African coast which was a French colony between 1896 and 1960 and has a wine industry that has since been run largely by Chinese immigrants. The island had about 3,000 ha/7,410 acres of vines in 2009 according to oiv figures. Mainly hybrid vines are grown in the central hauts plateaux area at elevations of between 750 and 1,350 m. Swiss settlers encouraged the Betsileo farmers to apply their expertise growing rice on high terraces to viticulture in the 1960s. The hundreds of vine-growers, with just a few hectares of vineyard each, are centred on Fianarantsoa and Ambalavo. See tropical viticulture.