Madagascar: an island nation washed by the Indian Ocean

Madagascar

madagaskar

Madagascar is an island state located east of Africa, washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean. The island of Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean about 400 km (250 miles) off the coast of Mozambique. Millions of years ago, Madagascar was part of the ancient continent of Gondwana. Then, as a result of geological processes, part of the massif separated, becoming an island, mysterious and unique in many ways. Madagascar separated from the mainland about 160 million years ago, so the evolution of animals on the island has taken its own peculiar path, and many species are not found anywhere else on Earth.

History of Madagascar

  • 500 B.C.: arrival of the first settlers from Indonesia.
  • Late 1st millennium A.D.: zone of Arab influence.
  • 1500: The Portuguese (B. Dias) were the first to arrive in Madagascar.
  • XVI-XVIII centuries: several states existed in different parts of the island, the most important was Imerina.
  • European attempts to colonize the island were unsuccessful.
  • 1818: Radama I is recognized by Great Britain as King of Madagascar.
  • 1896: The French expeditionary corps captures the capital of Madagascar. The island is declared a French colony.
  • 1946: French Overseas Territory.
  • 1960: Declaration of the independent state of the Malagasy Republic.
  • 1992: The country became known as the Republic of Madagascar under a new constitution.

The first inhabitants of Madagascar about 2000 years ago were settlers from Indonesia, who came by boat through India and East Africa. Later, people from mainland Africa came to the island, and now Madagascar is inhabited by people of mixed descent. The Malagasy language they speak is close in origin to Indonesian Malay. Clothing and beliefs, including ancestor worship, are a mixture of African and Indonesian cultures.

The island was first visited by the Portuguese expedition of Diego Dias in the early 16th century. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch, the English and the French. Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 and in 1946 the island is assigned the status of an overseas territory of France. Full freedom Madagascar gets in 1960.

In 1975, the dictator Didier Ratsiraka came to power on the island and began to implement a socialist anti-Western policy. All enterprises, including foreign ones, were taken over by the state. In 1991, under pressure from strikes and demonstrations, a more democratic constitution was adopted. And in 1993 a new government led by President Albert Zafi was elected.

Nature

In the east of Madagascar, a narrow coastal strip fringed by cliffs and reefs turns into forested mountain slopes. The interior of the island is a cool mountain plateau, devoid of vegetation in many places. Valuable forests have been cut down for fuel and to clear land for farmland. Unfortunately, human settlement and deforestation have resulted in Madagascar having the most severe degree of soil erosion in the world and no less than 127 animal species threatened with extinction. The hot and humid western lowlands are giving way to arid, scrubby areas in the south of the island. Most of the population lives in the interior of the island or along the east coast. The coastal areas are often hit by devastating cyclones.

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The island is unusually rich in natural beauty. It is a favorite place for fauna researchers, because thanks to its isolation, the island’s fauna has evolved and produced new, hitherto unknown species. Lemurs, tenrekis and chameleons and various species of turtles are considered the pride of the nation.

The state consists of the island Madagascar itself and the neighboring islands Nusi, Nusi-Wuruna, Ile St. Mari and others. On the island there are some climatic zones: tropical, deserted and moderate.

Economy

The economy of the country is based on tourism. Tourists are mostly attracted by the island flora. The agriculture is actively developing, being focused on cultivation and the subsequent export of spices and spices. Although only five percent of the land is suitable for farming. Madagascar is the largest exporter of vanilla. Cocoa beans, coffee, bananas, rice, sweet potatoes, cassava, and sugar cane are also grown here. In the west, cattle ranching is well developed. Fishing is done in rivers, lakes, and the sea. Plants preserve meat, brew beer, and refine sugar.

On the island there are rich deposits of graphite, chromite and such semiprecious stones as beryl and garnet. Hard coal, nickel, and oil are mined on Madagascar. It is possible that oil deposits at sea could improve the economy, but the benefits of mining have not yet been proven.

Population

Almost the entire population of the state is Malagasy (a multi-tribal ethnic group), Europeans, and Asians.

Slightly less than half the population worships the ancient gods as polytheists, while the rest are Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists.

Many tourists, observing the island from a bird’s eye view, are shocked by what they see. This island is extraordinary in everything. Before your eyes appears a bright red land with fragments of lush green vegetation. Here you will not see illuminations and luxury hotels. Madagascar – for connoisseurs who understand the beauty of nature, who appreciate the serenity and tranquility. There is a variety of flora and fauna, interesting people, the origin of which is vague and has not yet been fully explored: partly coming from Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Europe. All this has left a mark on the culture and worldview.

Madagascar

Madagascar

Madagascar. Photo by Rob Gomez.

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Madagascar is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, consisting of the island of Madagascar and several other small islands. It has a population of over 24.4 million people and is made up mostly of the Malagasy ethnic group, making up over 90% of the total population.

Weather and climate

Throughout the country, the rainy season is from November to March, which, however, has little effect in the southwest. On the other hand, most of the country has a dry season from April to October (or May to September in the north), except on the east coast, where it rains all year round. As is typical in tropical areas, rain is usually accompanied by thunderstorms, especially during the day, so there is no lack of sunshine even in the wettest months, at least in the morning hours.

During the cooler months, from mid-May through September, but sometimes also in October, air masses from the southwest can affect the country, bringing some cooler weather at night, especially in the center of the south, and even in the interior.

Banana flower Madagascar

Banana flower, Madagascar. Photo by Rod Waddington.

Flora and Fauna.

The country is very interesting not only for the beauty of its landscapes, but also for its flora and fauna. In fact, having been separated from the African continent millions of years ago, it has a great biodiversity and many species.

Despite its geographical proximity to the African continent, Madagascar has remained relatively isolated. As a result of this isolation, about 80% of the wildlife found on the island is found nowhere else in the world. The country’s unique ecology has led some ecologists to call Madagascar the “eighth continent.

Madagascar is home to more than 14,883 plant species, 80% of which are found nowhere else. The eastern part of the island was once covered by tropical forests filled with palms, ferns and bamboos.

Unfortunately, due to human interactions, much of the rainforest has been greatly reduced. In the western part of the island are dry deciduous forests. These forests are home to the endemic baobab tree.

Aye Aye Madagascar rug rat, Madagascar

Aye Aye, Madagascar’s ruddy bear, Madagascar. Photo by Jordy Everts.

Attractions

Rova Palace Fortress.

At the top of Ambochimanga Hill is Rova, the fortress palace. The walls were built using cement made from sand, shells and egg whites – it took 16 million eggs to build the outer wall.

Millot

This beautiful plantation, founded in 1904, is a leading producer of organic cocoa, spices and essential oils, and a visit to this little piece of paradise is not only an interesting experience, but a real treat.

Anzokai Arboretum

This is one of the attractions of Tulear. It is a fantastic collection of 900 plant species founded by a Swiss botanist.

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Domaine Aavyland

About 18 km south of Manacara on the road to Vohipeno you will find Domaine Aavyland, a 31-hectare organic plantation and distillery producing medicinal and aromatic essential oils.

Analamazaotra National Park

This is the most popular park in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park. The real treasure of this reserve is the rare indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, whose unforgettable cry can be heard from the forest.

Lemur, Analamazaotra, Madagascar

Lemur, Analamazaotra, Madagascar. Photo by Kat Stam.

Nutrition

Madagascar is an island where absolutely everything seems exotic. First of all, the food here is amazing, the local cuisine combines several cultures. Rice dishes are the most popular. The food is not as spicy, but now spicy sauces are in high demand.

There are distinctive dishes: “lasari karauti” – a salad that has carrots, cabbage, and beans in it, “trundru gasi” – a wonderful dish made from white fish stewed with zucchini and tomatoes), “vuanjuburi” – a pork stew with the addition of bambara nut.

The most common drink is “ranun ampangu,” which is made from burnt rice and boiling water. To experience the delicacy of the drink, it is consumed chilled.

Agama Agama, Madagascar

Agama Agama, Madagascar. Photo by Susan Ford Collins.

Accommodation

There are a variety of hotels, ranging from one-star to five-star. However, the number of stars is not an indicator of top quality, so you need to consider all the nuances. Accommodation rates for tourists and locals differ, which is a natural difference. Ravinalu hotels are inexpensive, so they are very popular among foreigners.

Fandrarazana, Madagascar

Fandrarazana, Madagascar. Photo by Roland de Guvenain.

Entertainment and recreation

To enjoy the beautiful views of nature and its wildness, you must visit the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Madagascar.

Among the most colorful and fun celebrations is the New Year, which is held in spring in March. May is famous for the Rice Festival, and June is filled with noisy dancing at the traditional music festival Donia. Also national holidays are historically important to the local population, so it will be interesting to observe them.

Lemurs Madagascar

Lemurs, Madagascar. Photo by Mattisa Appel.

Shopping

The opening hours of local stores may surprise tourists, as they stop working as early as 1pm on Saturday, and they may be closed altogether on Sunday afternoon. On weekdays the stores usually open at eight in the morning and close by five in the evening. But you can bargain.

Currency exchange – a serious problem in small towns, because even the local currency is hard to change. That’s why tourists are advised to take small bills when visiting provincial towns. As for the major cities, then there are no difficulties.

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Store Madagascar

Store, Madagascar. Photo by Rod Waddington.

Transportation

Madagascar has developed intercity airlines, but the most popular travel options are buses, shuttle buses and cabs. Buses travel along the main tourist routes and are considered convenient and inexpensive. Shuttle buses are cheaper, but most are crowded. Cabs are more expensive, but will get you anywhere in a short time.

Tourists have the opportunity to travel through the only railway line. They connect Antananarivo and Lake Alautra.

Also tourists over 21 can rent cars, but only with an international driver’s license and a credit card, and driving experience must be more than one year.

Rice transport, Madagascar

Rice transportation, Madagascar. Photo by Tom Browns.

Official languages

Malagasy

Malagasy is the most popular language in Madagascar, and most Madagascarans speak the language. The 1958 Constitution of Madagascar established Malagasy as one of the two official languages in the country, the other being French.

The 2007 constitution restored Malagasy as one of the three official languages in Madagascar, with the language also becoming the country’s national language. In 2007, there were about 18 million Malagasy-speaking people in Madagascar.

French

French is also the official language in Madagascar, as stipulated in the Constitution of Madagascar. Most people in Madagascar can communicate in French.

This foreign language was introduced in Madagascar after the island became a French colony in 1897, when large numbers of settlers from France moved to the island and controlled much of the country’s wealth.

After independence in 1958, the country retained French as the national language because of its prevalence among the population. After the country gained independence, most of the French settlers left, leaving behind a small number of native French speakers. As an official language, French is used as the language of instruction in educational institutions throughout Madagascar.

Main foreign language: English

Although Madagascar is categorized as a French-speaking country, English is also used as a medium of communication, especially in major cities, due to globalization and the popularity of music and movies from English-speaking countries. The 2007 constitution specified English as one of the country’s official languages, but its status was revoked in a 2010 referendum. Currently, English is mostly used in matters related to Madagascar’s foreign policy.

Baobabs, Ifati, Madagascar

Baobabs, Ifati, Madagascar. Photo by Rod Waddington.

Communications

There are various Global System for Mobile communications operators throughout Madagascar. In the capital of the largest cities for residents are available various Internet services 3G. To buy a SIM card of any operator, the customer must fill out a subscriber card and present a foreign passport.

If you use the services of the operator MTS, you have to pay more than four dollars per minute for a conversation in the country of residence. The tariffs of Sim-travel, another operator, are very cheap: one minute of conversation costs one dollar.

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You can find phone booths throughout Madagascar; you must enter your phone card to use them.

Morondava, Madagascar

Morondava, Madagascar. Photo by happy.apple.

Privacy

In almost all towns in Madagascar, people are well aware of incidents such as theft and fraud: robberies, fights, murders are very rare. To avoid such problems, you need to keep valuables in a safe place, in your bag or backpack carry copies that are notarized.

If you have rented a car for a trip, then on the road stop only when asked by the police.

Swim only in designated areas so as not to become a snack for sea creatures swimming up the coast. When the weather begins to change to more rainy, surfers and swimmers should immediately get out of the water and leave the beach, because staying is not safe for your life.

Mantella, Madagascar

Mantella, Madagascar. Photo by Brad Wilson.

Business climate

The government of the Republic of Madagascar encourages the inflow of foreign capital, especially when it comes to investments in areas of the national economy: tourism, mining, industrial and others. Entrepreneurs who implement large and expensive projects are granted various tax exemptions.

Chameleon Madagascar

Chameleon, Madagascar. Photo by Dave.

Real Estate

Prices for renting a house in Madagascar directly depend on the area in which it is located. In the capital and major cities rates are much higher than in the suburbs and villages.

For five to ten dollars a night in a small town you can find a very decent accommodation, possibly with meals. In the center for a similar option will have to pay several times more. For thirty to fifty dollars a night you can rent an apartment. And if we talk about the best hotels in Madagascar, it is necessary to pay at least $150.

Hotel, Madagascar

Hotel, Madagascar. Photo by Cedric Deheider.

Tips for visitors

To avoid unpleasant and embarrassing situations while in this place, you need to learn a couple of rules of conduct that will make your life easier.

Never joke or make ironies about your parents and death with anyone. The natives of Madagascar do not like to talk so frankly, do not try to have a heart-to-heart talk with them.

The cultural society has developed some prohibitions, and if a person challenges them, he can earn the status of impolite tourist, that’s the minimum.

Madagascar is the center of world sex tourism. Women are easy to contact with newcomers, but if they start lying about their age, it shows that they have no desire to continue the conversation.

Rainbow frog, Isalo National Park, Madagascar

Malagasy rainbow frog, Isalo National Park, Madagascar. Photo by Brad Wilson.

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