15 Madagascan Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting
The beautiful island of Madagascar is located off of Africa’s south-east coast and is an incredible place to visit. Find out about it right here!
1. The Size
Did you know that Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world after Greenland, Borneo and New Guinea. It’s total area is an impressive 587,000 sq.km with numerous small islands as well as the main one comprising the Republic of Madagascar.
Madagascar has a fairly modest population size of just over 22million people, many of which reside in the capital Antananarivo. The island has only been inhabited for around 2000 years thanks to its relative isolation.
Madagascar officially speaks 2 languages, Malagasy and French. Madagascar was colonised by the French, hence the French language, and Malagasy is the original language of Madagascar and is the predominant first language of the majority of the population.
Antananarivo is the capital of this island nation and is located in the Highlands of the country in the centre. With a mix of lovely wooden houses, French colonial splendour and royal tombs, it is a wonderful mix of a city, and a great place to stop off at as one of the most lively spots in the country.
Madagascar is of course famed for its biodiversity, and in fact, around 85% of its native wildlife is unique to the island. In fact some scientists refer to it as the 8th continent thanks to its incredible wildlife which includes the famous lemurs.
Lemurs are native to the island, and it is only there that you can find them in the wild. With over 100 species and sub-species of the creature, some of them are endangered or already extinct unfortunately due to extensive deforestation.
7. Elephant Bird
While this bird unfortunately went extinct in the 17th Century, it was the largest bird on the planet! Measuring incredibly over 3metres tall, perhaps it is after all a good thing that it is no longer stalking the island!
Like its wildlife, Madagascar also boasts many native species of plant that are unique to the island, some of which have medicinal values. This includes the Madagascar periwinkle, from which drugs can be derived to treat Hodgkin’s disease and leukaemia.
Did you know that Madagascar typically experiences only 2 seasons? These are a dry and cool season from May until October, and a hot and rainy one from November to April, when rain clouds from the Indian Ocean burst on the country.
Maromokotro is the tallest mountain in Madagascar. Located in the Tsaratanana Reserve in the northern part of the island, it is 2876m tall. Avid climbers enjoy the spectacular views that it offers over the beautiful nature reserve
11. Toliara Coral Reef
Madagascar boasts the third largest coral reef in the world, the Toliara Coral Reef which is over 450km in length. Made up of coral barriers and lagoons, it supports a rich underwater sea-life ecosystem of over 5000 different species.
If you like the taste of vanilla and like to use fresh pods, then chances are that it came from Madagascar! The country is one of the largest producers and exporters of the delicious flavoured pods in the world.
While football is probably the most popular sport in the country, rugby is in fact the official sport of Madagascar, having been introduced by the French during their rule, and the national team is really popular. Moraingy, which is a form of hand to hand combat, is also popular.
Thanks to its unique plants and its location between the crossroads of Africa and Asia, Madagascan cuisine is incredibly tasty! With predominantly rice based dishes, made with local vegetables that simply don’t get exported that often, the flavours and textures will leave you wanting more!
15. Dzama Rum
Dzama rum is a popular brand of the spirit drink that is produced on the island of Madagascar. Having won many words and praise from rum critics (that must be pretty close to a dream job!), this rum, although only founded in 1980, is exported throughout the world.