Madagascar: history, climate and attractions of the island
The island of lemurs is very popular after the release of the cartoon of the same name. Many tourists flocked here to relax and have fun, as did the famous company of animals. But unlike the film, the island is inhabited not only the representatives of flora and fauna, but also people who have created here a good infrastructure.
1. Geography and climate
Madagascar is located near southeastern Africa. A large part of the island on the east side is washed by the Indian Ocean, which gives this area a lot of rainfall and it is called a tropical monsoon. In general, scientists have allocated about ten climate zones on Madagascar, for which it is even called a small continent. In addition to the tropical zone, distinguish marine, temperate, desert and semi-desert.
Seasonality on the island is not pronounced. Here you can come to rest all year round. However, in some regions, mainly in the central regions, in winter (especially in August and September), the temperature can drop to 15 degrees. The most favorable months to visit the resorts of the island will be April and December, when the temperature is very comfortable, and the coast is not raging strong cyclones. If your goal is to explore the local nature reserves, then come in September-November.
1. Geography and climate
2. A brief history
The island was first inhabited by African tribes, the Bantu and Austronesians. This time dates back to the 2nd-5th centuries A.D. Their mixing gave birth to a new tribe, the Malagasy, which today constitute the main part of the population of Madagascar. In the 16th century, by a fluke, the island was visited by European explorers, led by Diego Diascham, who were on their way to India. The island owes its name to another famous traveler, Marco Polo, who called the local areas very rich.
For a long time, two colonial powers, France and England, fought for influence in Madagascar. However, they could not resist the onslaught of the tribes that inhabited the territories. After that, the island became a haven for pirates, as it had a very convenient geographical position – on the routes to India. This allowed them to plunder rich European ships.
At the end of the 19th century, French rule was finally established and overthrew the former royal dynasty. In the 20th century the country was shaken by many uprisings and coups that began after the declaration of independence. Today Madagascar is experiencing unstable political conditions, with the last major upheaval occurring in 2009.
2. A brief history
Most of the attractions of the island are of natural origin – these are unique species of animals and plants, which are protected and live in the local parks and reserves.
1. Kirindi Forest . In the forest grow huge baobabs, which immediately attract the attention of tourists. They are home to two species of lemurs, the Sifak and the world’s smallest primate dwarf mouse lemurs, whose weight rarely exceeds the 30g mark. Many tourists come here to see the fossa, a rare, endangered species of predator similar to the puma, but much smaller in size. There are a lot of nocturnal inhabitants in this reserve, so there are often excursions in the dark.
2. Montagne d’Ambre National Park . It is visited by the greatest number of tourists. It is a jungle in which there are hiking trails. Here you will be shown a rare species of chameleons, numerous birds, vegetation and waterfall Petit Cascade.
3. Ankaratra Volcanic Massif . It is located near the capital Antananarivo. The array is a chain of extinct volcanoes, headed by Ankaratra, several thousand years ago. Not far from the array is Lake Tritriva, which is also of volcanic origin. There are many myths and legends about it, penned by the locals.
4. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park . The park consists of two parts. The first is a rainforest, which is well explored and adapted for tourist excursions. In them you can see several species of lemurs, birds and amphibians. The second part of the park is Mantardia. It is almost untouched by man, and it is very dangerous to go there without a guide, because you can just get lost.
5. Cingy de Bemaraha National Park . It is better not to come here from December to May, because there are heavy rainstorms. In this park is a real miracle of nature – the stone forest, which is a sharp limestone cliffs. Surprisingly, there are animals living among them too, primarily lemurs. On a visit to the park is worth allocating a long period of time – about five days. During this time you will not only look at the rocks, but take a ride in a canoe and walk along the suspension bridges over the picturesque gorges.
6. Parque de Ranomafana . The park combines different types of terrain – plains, hills, and mountainous terrain. The local forests are home to a huge number of animals, including rare golden bamboo lemurs. Also, there is the Namorona River, which has several beautiful waterfalls. If you get to the hot springs, which are rich in various minerals, be sure to take a swim in them.
7. Royal hill of Ambohimanga . This is probably the only known sight in Madagascar, which was not created by nature, but by man. The hill is listed by UNESCO. It represents many ruins of temples and palaces of rulers who ruled the island in the Middle Ages.
4. Entertainment .
Besides the beach, there are true nature hunters who want to see unique and rare species of plants and animals, especially lemurs, which are there are several dozen species.
4. Entertainment .
Diving enthusiasts come to the eastern part of the island. Near the shore here are incredibly beautiful coral reefs. Those who want to conquer the waves of the Indian Ocean with the help of ordinary or kitesurfing also go here. By the way, the local rental shops provide all the necessary equipment.
Those who prefer a leisurely yacht or catamaran ride, choose the northern coast of the island, where the bays are actively blowing winds.
5. Local cuisine
The main foods of the locals are meat, vegetables and rice, in the preparation of which they use the unique Madagascar bouquet of spices.
Meat is often served in the form of stews, baked or stewed. Among the population is very popular meat of the antelope zebu, which is a sacred animal.
5. Local cuisine
Many French traditions left over from the colonial period are present in the local cuisine. Residents of the island enjoy croissants and coffee for breakfast, foie gras for lunch and a good glass of wine in the evening.
For dessert, it is worth buying exotic fruits or juice in the local markets.
Madagascar Island. Photos of nature from high altitude, cities, beaches
The island of Madagascar is sometimes called a separate continent, how exotic look here literally all forms of life. Photos of animals living on the island cannot be confused with others, because most species are found only on Madagascar. Traveling to the island will be a pleasant discovery of a new world for those who prefer the full exotic and thrill of luxury resorts.
Where is the island
The island and the eponymous state of Madagascar are located in the western part of the Indian Ocean. The distance from the east coast of the African continent to the island is 400 km. Madagascar is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Mozambique.
The coordinates of Madagascar are 19°20′S and 47°04′E.
Madagascar (island), whose bird’s-eye photo resembles a giant tortoise, is the 4th largest in the world. Its area is about 580 thousand km. The island stretches along the coast of Africa for 1600 km, its width is about 600 km.
On the territory of the island there is a state of Madagascar, which has 6 provinces and 22 regions. The capital is Antananarivo. Madagascar is also governed by several small adjacent islands. You can get to this paradise by plane or by sea. Flights from Europe are made by Paris.
There are air links with the following countries:
Locally, the airport in Antananarivo receives planes. Cruise and coaster ships stop at the port of Tuamasina.
Madagascar, an island whose photos of landscapes from different regions will vary dramatically, is divided into several climatic zones. Contributes to this rather large length in length, passing the equator almost in the middle.
Мадагаскар – осколок бывшего большого континента Гондвана, который отделился от Африканской платформы в результате природных катаклизмов. Центральную часть острова занимает Высокое плато. Горный массив состоит из 5 цепей и занимает всей территории Мадагаскара. Эта часть острова богата на разнообразные природные ископаемые, среди которых – золото и драгоценные камни.
The rest of the coastal areas vary greatly in topography:
- On the eastern side of the plateau breaks off sharply, forming a narrow coastal strip, 20-30 km wide, occupied by tropical forests.
- To the west, the mountains descend gradually, in steps and terraces. On the low ledges are a lot of river valleys, the coast is indented with river mouths. The coast is surrounded by coral reefs.
- The north is occupied by the Tsaratana Massif, while in the north-west, the savannah stretches for many kilometers.
- South and southwest of Madagascar is a semi-desert.
The climate of Madagascar is particularly influenced by westerly winds from the Indian Ocean. It is mainly defined as hot subtropical. Features of the relief have a significant impact on the weather in different regions of the island.
Climatic features of Madagascar:
- The north of the island is an area of humid equatorial monsoons.
- Precipitation, brought by winds from the Indian Ocean, settles mainly in the highlands of the great plateau. The eastern side is the wettest.
- The highest temperatures are in December (average +28 ° C). In the same period falls peak rainy season.
- The coldest month is July with average temperatures of 9-21°C.
- Rainiest period: November-March.
- The average annual temperature of the Indian Ocean off the coast is 25 °С.
The abundance of rivers and the sufficient amount of precipitation, along with fertile soil, create in this fertile land tremendous opportunities for agriculture and the cultivation of many heat-loving crops. Madagascar is sometimes called “vanilla island. In addition to vanilla, large areas are devoted to plantations of coffee, cocoa, various types of spices.
According to the census of 2010. About 20 million people lived in Madagascar, 29% of them were urban population. The indigenous inhabitants of Madagascar are Malagasy, which is divided into 18 ethnic groups. The main occupation of the islanders is agriculture.
The main geographical data of Madagascar:
|The altitude of the high plateau is.||800-1800 m above sea level|
|Highest point||Extinct volcano Marumukutru – 2876 m.|
|Largest river||Betsibuka – a length of 525 km.|
|Lakes||Kinkuni, Ikhutri, Alautra.|
|The capital of||Antananarivo. Population – more than 1.5 million people.|
|Main religions||48% – the traditional Madagascan, 44% – Christianity.|
Some historical facts
The history of Madagascar is as colorful as its population and geography. The Malagasy is a special nation, which carries in ethnogenesis the genes of African and Indonesian people. Scientists still do not agree on which nation first inhabited the island. The African mainland is closer, but the winds and currents of the Indian Ocean contributed to the unhindered access to the island from Indonesia.
Modern Malagasy looks more like the Filipinos, their national language also has a connection with the languages of the Indonesian peoples. The culture, ancient beliefs and customs bear the imprint of both peoples. Be that as it may, Madagascar had been inhabited for thousands of years before the first Europeans landed there. Excavations have found sites of prehistoric people.
Some basic historical facts:
- The first state was formed in the center of the island in the XIV – XV centuries, it was called Imerina. The basis of the state was the gelding ethnic group, which is still a privileged group. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, a single Malagasy state was formed around Imerina.
- In the XVII century on the territory of Madagascar, there was briefly a pirate republic of Libertalia, which was the world’s first semblance of a communist state.
- The first Russians who saw the island of paradise were the runaway convicts from the Bolsheretski prison. During a rebellion in 1774, they managed to seize a ship and two years later landed off the coast of Madagascar. The leader of the rebels, Moritz Benevsky managed to find common ground with the local population, was respected and became the founder of the commercial port of Louisbourg.
- The first Europeans to discover Madagascar were the Portuguese in 1500. After that, missionaries came to the island and converted most of the population to Christianity.
- From 1895 until independence in 1960, Madagascar was a French colony.
- Independence Day is celebrated in Madagascar on June 18.
- In 1904-1905, off the coast of Madagascar was a Russian squadron, which was waiting to go to Japan.
- The largest damage to the island since the beginning of the XXI century. Cyclones Elita and Gafilo in 2004. More than 300 thousand people were left homeless, over 300 were killed or disappeared.
Animals of Madagascar
Photographers who first arrived in Madagascar were confused by the abundance of rare exotic subjects to photograph. This is not surprising. The long isolation of the island, the remoteness from the continents has created its own amazing flora and fauna, a significant part of which are endemic.
Today the rare animals of Madagascar are known all over the world. There are only 25,000 species of animals and birds on the island. In the last 1000 years, due to massive deforestation, many unique species are threatened with extinction, they are included in the Red Book and are protected in the parks and reserves.
- Lemurs are endemic species of animals that resemble dogs, cats and squirrels at the same time, but belong to the primates. Very interesting playful animals are in particular danger – 48 of their species are endangered.
- Fossa is a distant relative of the mongoose, similar to members of the feline family. It has a slender flexible body, reaches a length of up to 1.8 m.
- The Madagascar comet is one of the most beautiful butterflies in the world, with a wingspan up to 20 cm.
- Panther chameleon is found only in Madagascar. Characterized by bright changing coloration, a very popular species among reptile dealers.
- The Leaf-tailed Gecko has a body similar in shape and coloring to dried tree leaves, which allows it to rank #1 in camouflage.
- The Madagascar hand gecko is a nocturnal-living primate. They use echolocation to hunt insects.
- Striped tenrek is an absolutely unique animal, resembling a hedgehog with a long narrow snout. It feeds on what it digs in the ground, small fish and frogs.
Cities and popular resorts
Madagascar island, photos of colorful landscapes of which attract tourists with their identity, is known primarily for its excursions to national parks and exotic villages. Major cities are the capital and popular resort centers.
- Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive) is the capital of the state. This city combines the styles of Arab, African cities with a unique French charm. The capital, which locals affectionately call just Tana, is located in the highlands of the High Plateau at an altitude of 1240-1470 m. Its houses with narrow streets cascade down to the center on several levels. Transitions, squares, and arches create a whole labyrinth between alleys and staircases. The first mention of the city dates back to 1625. There are now about 2.6 million people living in Antananarivo.
- Anceranana is an industrial center on the northernmost tip of Madagascar. Its location among volcanic rocks, surrounded by tropical forests, gives the city surroundings a special charm.
- Mahajanga is an ancient city with numerous temples and a sacred hill of Duana, located in the delta of the river Betsibok, 560 km from the capital.
- Tumasina is a colorful city and the most important seaport in northeastern Madagascar. Features old colonial-style neighborhoods, an exotic central market, and beachfront neighborhoods.
- Toliara is a large resort and port town on the west coast with many activities for tourists.
- Fort Dauphin (Taulanaru) is located at the foot of Mount St. Louis in the southeast of the island. Besides the special natural landscapes created by a unique combination of three climatic zones, it is famous for its thermal spas.
People go to Madagascar for a fascinating trip to the exotic sights, but also enjoy the opportunity to relax on the beaches, where clean sand and clear waters surrounded almost the entire island. Preference should be given to proven and safe locations for several reasons. The choppy trade winds and currents of the Indian Ocean create ideal conditions for surfers, but not for swimming. Beach vacationers need lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The second reason is that some places are visited by sharks, which becomes dangerous.
Recommended beach areas of Madagascar:
- Nusi-Be Island , which is off the northwest coast of Madagascar, is the most popular beach vacation spot. The beaches are clean and the water is calm. In general, the island atmosphere is noisy and fun, which contributes to the many restaurants and nightclubs. The most popular beach is Andilana. Wonderful diving awaits fans of diving in the area of the marine park Nusi-Tanikeli. The water temperature along the coast is within 25-30 degrees Celsius all year round.
- The beaches of the resort town of Morondava in the west of the island stretch for many kilometers along the coast. A feature of the beaches and the city as a whole is surrounded by plantings of majestic baobabs. Developed infrastructure, a lot of warm shallow lagoons can be considered the best place for children’s recreation.
- The small island of Ile Sainte-Marie, centered in Amboudifouttour, is located near the northeast coast. Its beaches, one of the best in Madagascar, surrounded by plantations of vanilla, cocoa, coconut palms.
- The town of Ifati, not far from Toliara, welcomes tourists with cozy bungalows right on the ocean. In this place, often swim up to whales, you can watch them right from the shore. Lovers of exploring the depths with scuba diving will also like the place.
Attractions worth seeing
Madagascar is an island (photos are posted in the text of the article), rich in historical events of the past. This could not but leave a trace in the memorable sights.
Excursions include several interesting sites worth seeing:
- The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, 21 km from Antananarivo, is a site of religious worship by Malaysians who preserve the traditional beliefs of their ancestors. The name of the area translates to “blue forest”. For 100 years, until 1794, this was the site of the royal residence. Today the hill is the site of important religious ceremonies. Since 2001, the King’s Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The palace complex of Ruwa is the place of residence and the tomb of many generations of Madagascan rulers. In ancient times, these buildings were the only ones built of stone in the entire capital. The use of stone for the dwellings of ordinary citizens was forbidden. The palace has not been fully restored after a fire in 1995, but still makes an impression. Especially since from the hill on which it sits, you can see almost the entire city.
- The Presidential Palace Andafiavaratra Palace was the seat of French administration during the colonial era. Later it housed the residence of the president. Now in the beautiful building is a museum, the exhibits are collected from all over the island and tell about the history and culture of the country.
- Ruins of a Portuguese port and a patriarchal indigenous village are the sights of the beach island of Nusi-Be.
The total number of national parks, protected areas and reserves in Madagascar is about 50. The distinctive nature is the main attraction of the island, for which travelers go on a long journey.
- Isalu – a national park in the province of Toliara occupies an area of about 800 hectares, in which animals are rare and the flora is poor. The reserve was created in order to preserve the unique natural landscapes, reminiscent of the cosmic. There are several hiking trails along the riverbeds. The beauties of Isalu: fantastic solitary rocks, caves, and deep canyons.
- Lake Tritriva was formed in the crater of a volcano, with a maximum depth of 150 m. The unsolved secret of the lake is the sources of its water replenishment, the level of which rises and drops, while none of the rivers flows into the lake. The beauty of the surrounding landscape defies description.
- The peculiarity of the prehistoric tropical forests of Atsinanana, which cover the eastern coast of Madagascar, are unique plants, 12000 of them are endemics. Scientists believe that this ecosystem was formed about 60 million years ago.
- The main natural attraction of the northern part of Madagascar is the Montagne de Ambre National Park. This area is the rainiest on the island. Exotic views are created by an abundance of orchids of the most bizarre forms, waterfalls, beautiful lakes surrounded by tropical forest.
- It is hard to imagine a more colorful landscape than the baobab valley between the towns of Morondava and Beloni. The unusual trees grow to a height of up to 30 m and the girth of the trunk is sometimes 20 m. Some of the baobabs are over 100 years old.
- Nusi-Kumba Island is located close to the shore and tourists are brought here by boat. The main attraction of the island are the lemurs. Sacred in these places animals everywhere – in the woods, in the village, on the shoulders of tourists.
- On the west coast of Madagascar for many kilometers stretches of terrain with bizarre landscapes created by water and wind. The forests are home to numerous species of lemurs, indri and exotic birds. All of this is the Cingy du Bemaraha Reserve.
- Kirindi Forest near Morondava is a place for night excursions, during which you can see rare species of animals leading a nocturnal lifestyle.
- The Tsarasaotra Reserve near the town of the same name in central Mozambique is a realm of thousands of bird species.
Madagascar is a unique place on planet Earth, a paradise for photographers and artists. Its shores attract clean sandy beaches with blue water, the cultural heritage of the islanders is full of historical events. But the main thing that attracts the island – the natural landscapes, unique flora and fauna. Madagascar – a place for lovers of the beauty of their planet.