Located on the shoreline of Southeast Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is an island country. It consists of the main island of Madagascar as well as other small islands. It was separated from the Indian peninsula about 88 million years ago after the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was split up (135 million years ago). Its earlier name was Malagasy Republic. It is situated close to Mauritius, Comoros state and the French territories of Réunion and Mayotte. Mozambique is the closest country with this island.
Capital City: Antananarivo
Official Languages: Malagasy and French
Traditional Sport: Moraingy
- Europeans first introduced the word Madagascar for this island during Middle Ages.
- Archaeologists have found tools made up of stones that suggest hunter-gatherers may have visited this site in about 2000 BC.
- It was one of the last landmasses of the earth where humans settled down.
- During 7th and 9th centuries, the Arab merchants came to this island.
- In 1000 AD, the Bantu-speaking people migrated from Southeastern Africa. They brought humped cattle or zebu to Madagascar.
- The recorded history of this island was started in the 10th century when the Arab traders arrived here.
- In 1500, the Europeans came here.
- In 1883, the French attacked this island in what is called Franco-Hova War. The north port of Antsiranana was given to France as a result of this war.
- In 1896, slavery was abolished in Madagascar by releasing 500,000 slaves.
- It has a population of 22 million.
- The six national parks of this island are declared as World Heritage Site (2007). They are collectively known as Rainforests of the Atsinanana.
- This island exports ylang-ylang, vanilla and cloves around the world. As for crops, it grows shrimp, lychees and coffee.
- The main trading partner of Madagascar is France.
- The highest peak of this island is Maromokotro which is 2,876 metres (9,436 feet) high. The other two peaks of slightly smaller elevation are Boby Peak and Tsiafajavona.
- It is home to some of the devastating cyclones like tropical cyclone which destroys infrastructure as well as human lives every year. The strongest cyclone came in 2004 was known as Cyclone Gafilo killed 172 people and caused $250 million in financial losses.
- According to Conservation International, Madagascar is the hotspot for biodiversity.
- About 14,883 species of plants are present here. Interestingly, over 80 percent of such plant species do not exist anywhere else and are therefore unique in this island.
- About four-fifths of the species of genus spine-bearing trees called Pachypodium are only present in this island.
- It is home to 860 species of orchid plants. Out of these, three-fourths do not exist anywhere else in the world.
- Out of nine species of baobab trees, six are present in Madagascar.
- It is also home to 170 species of palm trees. Out of these, 165 species are unique in this island.
- Some of the plant species of this island are used to treat cancers and leukemia like vinblastine and vincristine drugs. These drugs were made from Madagascar periwinkle.
- After the arrival of humans, 17 species of lemurs have been extinct.
- Out of 300 bird species in Madagascar, 60 percent of these are only present here.
- About two-thirds of the Chameleon species in the world are present in Madagascar. In fact, Chameleons may have come from this island.
- When the humans first arrived on this island 2,350 years before, they started cutting down trees. As a result, 90 percent of the forest has been destroyed until today.
- According to some estimates, almost all of the rainforests of Madagascar will be destroyed by 2025.
- In 2014, an Asian common toad was discovered in Madagascar.
- Like many other birds, Elephant birds were also endemic in this island. Sorry to say, these birds became extinct until 17th century probably because of human hunting.
Almost 90 percent of the lemur species in Madagascar are in danger of extinction particularly after the destruction of natural resources.
Interesting Facts about Madagascar
- Madagascar is ranked fourth among the largest islands in the world.
- It stands at the 46th position among the largest countries of the world.
About 90 percent of all plants and animals in Madagascar are unique and exclusively exist on this island. This island has long remained isolated from other continents which is why its wildlife does not present anywhere else in the world.
- The people of this island are known as Malagasy and this island is called Madagasikara in Malagasy language.
- Because Madagascar is home to some of the unique animals, this island is also sometimes known as ‘eighth continent’.
- The iconic symbol of Madagascar is Traveler’s Palm. In local language, it is known as Ravenala. It is also present in the logo of national airline, Air Madagascar.
- According to Conservation International, the lemurs are considered as ‘Madagascar’s flagship mammal species’. About 103 species of lemurs are found on this island (2012) and out of these, 39 species were spotted during 2000 and 2008.
- About half of the export of sapphires in the world is supplied by Madagascar.
- It is home to one of the largest reserves of ilmenite in the world.
- About 90 percent of the people in Madagascar earn less than $2 per day.