10 surprising facts about Madagascar

Are you confident that you know enough for your itinerary to explore Madagascar? Have a glance at the 10 fun facts below to check how many you know?

1.    Madagascar is the fourth largest island and the second-largest island country

Madagascar is an island country, off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. With an area of 587,713 km2, Madagascar Island ranks the fourth largest island in the world, after Greenland, Papua New Guinea and Borneo; and the second-largest island country, after Indonesia.  


2.    Madagascar is often called as the eighth continent 

88 million years ago, Madagascar island splits from India following its initial separation from the supercontinent Gondwana (which included Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Australia) approximately 165 million years ago. That leads to the formation of various endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world but in that megadiverse country. The ecosystem is very impressive but endangered and needs preserving and treated carefully. Madagascar is where are over 13,700 plant species (majority endemic), 389 reptile species, 278 amphibian species (all endemic!), 282 bird species, and 220 mammal species reside. 




3.    French is an official language in Madagascar, in addition to Malagasy

The island used to be a French colony from 1897 to 1958 with a large number of settlers from France relocating to the island and controlling much of the country’s wealth. Then, after gaining independence, the government still maintained French as a national language due to its popularity among local people’s lives. Therefore, when visiting the country, communicating by French can be a great help for buying transaction or bargain. 


4.    3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in Madagascar

Madagascar is honored to own 3 sites which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage, namely: Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, and Rainforests of the Atsinanana. Among this, Royal Hill is a religious capital and holy city of the kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Today, it is a sacred and spiritual place for worship activity.  


Royal Hill of Ambohimanga


5.    The island used to be a pirate’s paradise 

In the 17th and 18th century, which is known as the golden age of piracy, Madagascar was a perfect place for pirates to rest after a long journey. In that period, the expansion of pirates threatened the whole area and world commerce.   


6.    Madagascar has the 3rd largest coral reef system in the world

The Túlear (Toliara) coral reef is the 3rd largest coral reef system in the world, which off the south-western coast. The region is not home of colorful coral reef and over 6000 different spices of marine animals but also attracts sea turtles from the Western Indian Ocean. The marine ecosystem in Túlear is also the only one in the world that the coelacanth refuges under the water surface.  




7.    Madagascar is known as the “Red island”

The name “Red Island” stems from the geographical condition. The land there is rich in iron and aluminum that leads to the prominence of red lateritic soil. 




8.    Most Madagascar people have strong spiritual beliefs

The dominant religion in Madagascar is Christianity. However, many Malagasy people still have a strong belief in their ancestors and living things around. Even when their family members passed away, Malagasy people recall them each year on the occasion of “Famadihana festival”. On that day, family members bring forth the bodies of their ancestors from the family crypts, rewrap the corpses in fresh cloth and rewrite their names on the cloth so that they will always be remembered. It is also known as “dancing with the dead” tradition. 


9.    The transport system in Madagascar is still limited 

Only 11% of roads in Madagascar are paved while others are still in use under poor infrastructure. Especially, during the rainy season, it is hard for travelers to commute since the roads are rough and have lots of huge obstacles. 


10.    Lions, hippos, zebras, and giraffes are not found on Madagascar island

In the famous cartoon from Pixar named “Madagascar”, we may be familiar with characters as a lion, hippo, zebra, and giraffe, which are regarded as representatives for this island. But in real-life, we cannot find any of them though they once lived here in the past. Otherwise, lemurs are received the highest respect and protection as a mascot. Many ancient legends claim that there was a special connection between lemurs and human, usually through a common ancestor. There are over 30 different species of lemurs, including aye-ayes living in Madagascar. They can travel up to 25 feet in one leap!




So, are you confident that you have got all of these 10 surprising facts about amazing Madagascar? Tick for what you have known before and note down for what you have not known. Then, with the eligible Madagascar visa, we guess that you are ready for the itinerary to explore Madagascar right now. 



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