Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa.
The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago and has been isolated ever since. Consequently, Madagascar’s fauna and flora evolved in relative isolation and are found nowhere else on Earth.
Here are ten fun facts about Madagascar:
1. More than 90% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic, meaning they can be found nowhere else on Earth. This includes such iconic species as lemurs, baobab trees, and fossa – a carnivorous mammal that is related to cats and dogs.
2. Despite its isolation, there is great linguistic diversity on the island with four national languages spoken – Malagasy, French, English, and Chinese. In addition, there are more than 18 dialects of Malagasy alone!
3. Although it is often associated with poverty and political instability, Madagascar actually has a long history dating back to the 10th century AD when it was first settled by Austronesian peoples. Since then, it has been ruled by a succession of kingdoms, empires and colonial powers including Portugal, Holland, France and Britain before gaining independence in 1960.
4. One of Madagascar’s most famous exports is vanilla – responsible for flavouring everything from ice cream to perfume! In fact, the majority of vanilla beans used commercially come from this small island nation which produces up to 80% of the world’s supply each year!
5. Rice is not only a staple food crop for many Malagasy people but also plays an important role in their culture and traditions. For example, rice features prominently in weddings where it is used as both decoration and currency (guests bring gifts of rice which are then given to the newlyweds). It also forms part of traditional burial rites where family members will scatter handfuls of rice onto gravesites as a sign of respect for their ancestors’ spirits.
6. The hira gasy or “big dance” is another important cultural tradition involving rice – specifically uncooked rice grains which are thrown at dancers during performances! This practice supposedly brings good luck but can also result in some pretty nasty bruises.
7. Despite being one half of one percent of global landmass, Madagascar still manages to contain 5% of global biodiversity.
8. If you’re looking for somewhere truly unique to visit, then look no further than Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park – home to limestone formations known as tsingy which have been eroded over time into razor-sharp needles. Don’t worry though, there’s a network of wooden walkways and bridges allowing visitors to safely explore this otherworldly landscape.
9. Lemurs are perhaps Madagascars best-known residents and these unusual primates come in all shapes and sizes. There are currently 103 species identified although new ones are still being discovered from time to time.
10. No trip to Madagascar is complete without seeing one (or preferably several) of its amazing sunsets! With its red soil and clear skies, the setting sun casts a beautiful hue over the entire country– definitely something that needs to be seen!