Philibert Tsiranana (18 October 1912 – 16 April 1978) was a Malagasy politician and leader, who served as the first President of Madagascar from 1959 to 1972. During the twelve years of his administration, the Republic of Madagascar enjoyed institutional stability that stood in contrast to the political turmoil many countries of the African mainland experienced in this period. This stability contributed to Tsiranana's popularity and his reputation as a remarkable statesman. Compared with the leaders of other developing countries of the time, his conduct appears honorable. Madagascar experienced moderate economic growth under his pragmatic socialist policies and came to be known as "the Happy Island." However, the democratization process was fraught with challenges and his term ultimately terminated in a political impasse that brought about the end of the democratic First Republic and ushered in the isolationist, Soviet-inspired socialist Second Republic.