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Morondava, Madagascar. Author Frank Vassen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Morondava, Madagascar. Author Frank Vassen

Madagascar: the red Island, the land of contrasts

Madagascar is a large island located in the Indian Ocean 500 km to the east of the African coast of Mozambique. It is after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo the largest island of the world. The national capital is the city of Antananarivo/Antananarive. It is located in the central plateau at more than 1,200 meters.

The country consists of flat coastal strips more or less broad and a central plateau, which rises to heights ranging from 800 to 1,800 meters. It extends from the Tsaratanana Massif in the north to the Ankaratra Massif (2,643 meters) in the center and to the Ivakoany Massif in the south.

In the north in the Tsaratanana Massif lies the highest mountain of Madagascar, the Maromokotro, which reaches 2,876 meters. The coasts of Madagascar are generally low and sandy, often bordered by lagoons, only in the northern and southern areas of the country, at some deep bays, occur sometimes high and rocky coasts.

Madagascar Map

Madagascar Map

Probably the Madagascar was colonized by humans between 350 BC and 550 AD, in this period there came Austronesian peoples from the Indonesian islands. Later, around the eleventh century, came to the island from Africa Bantu ethnic populations. The island was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the sixteenth century. They called it Ilha de São Lourenço. At the end of the nineteenth century Madagascar became a French colony.

Madagascar is an island that belongs to the African continent, but it has its own peculiarities such as population – probably coming from Indonesia -,  fauna – very different from that of nearby Africa and that has more than a similarity with that of Asia -. This is explained by researchers with the fact that Madagascar was once joined to the Indonesian islands and Asia in the great continent of Gondwana.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 587,041 sq km: arable land 5%, pastures 41%, forests and bushland 40%, uncultivated and unproductive land 14%
  • Population: 20,000,000 (as of 2008)
  • National Capital: Antananarivo/Tananarive
  • Official Languages: Official languages are French and Malagasy.
  • Religion: Traditional Religions 48 %, Christians 45%: Catholics 23% and Protestants 22%; Muslims 7%.
  • Currency: Ariary (MGA)
  • Time Zone: UTC+3 hours.

This post is also available in: German

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