For those who love to explore and discover more about nature, Madagascar is the best destination. About 5% of all known plant species and animals are native only to Madagascar. Not only is it very rich in wildlife, but also in marine life. As the fourth largest island in the world, you will always have something new to discover here. If you’re really adventurous, you can try trails that have yet to be discovered and just immerse yourself in the beauty of the African wilderness or dive into the depths of enchanting waters. As an island, this is also a melting pot of many different cultures due to the many groups of people who inhabited the place.
Important and Interesting Facts About Madagascar
- Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world.
- Madagascar has the 3rd largest coral reef system in the world, the Toliara coral reef, off the south-western coast.
- Madagascar is one of the world’s main suppliers of vanilla and cloves, while coffee, lychees and shrimp are also important agriculturally. The country currently provides half of the world’s supply of sapphires and produces a number of other precious and semi-precious stones.
- Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve was Madagascar’s first site to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the reserve are various types of lemurs indigenous to Madagascar, wild birds also indigenous to Madagascar, and mangrove forests.since becoming a World Heritage Site, the southern portion of the nature reserve was converted into a national park.
- The Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region. It has been a center of local conservation efforts, and was granted temporary protected status in July 2007 by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, the first step toward making it Madagascar’s first natural monument.
- Ranomafana National Park is located in the southeastern part of Madagascar in Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy-Fitovinany. With more than 41,600 hectares (161 square miles) of tropical rainforest, the park is home to several rare species of flora and fauna such as the lemur.
- Isalo National Park is a National Park in the Ihorombe Region of Madagascar. The park is known for its wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases, and grassland. The closest town is Ranohira, and the closest cities are Toliara and Ihosy.
- The Rova of Antananarivo is a royal palace complex (rova) in Madagascar that served as the home of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as of the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Located in the central highland city of Antananarivo, the Rova occupies the highest point on Analamanga, formerly the highest of Antananarivo’s many hills.
- Marojejy National Park is a national park in the Sava Region of northeastern Madagascar. The wide range of elevations and rugged topography of the massif create diverse habitats that transition quickly with changes in altitude. Warm, dense rainforest can be found at lower elevations, followed by shorter forests at higher elevations, followed still by cloud forest, and topped near the peaks with the only remaining undisturbed mountain scrub in Madagascar.
- Nosy Mangabe is a small island reserve located in Antongil Bay. It is a tropical rainforest preserve and sanctuary for the endangered aye-aye.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts About Madagascar
- Madagascar is classed as one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries that are considered to be home to the majority of the worlds biodiversity. Over 70% of the 250,000 wildlife species found in Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world. While 90% of the estimated 14,000 plants native to Madagascar are also found nowhere else.
- The lemur is only found in the wild in Madagascar. As of 2012, there were 103 living species of lemur in Madagascar, including sub-species.
- The unique ecology of Madagascar has led some scientists to refer to the country as the “eighth continent” of the world.
- Madagascar was home to the largest bird in the world, the elephant bird, until it became extinct in the 17th century. It is believed to have been over ten feet tall (3 meters).
- There are several plant species that can be used as herbal remedies. For example, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and other cancers can be treated by the drugs vinblastine and vincristine, which are derived from the Madagascar periwinkle.
- Little known facts about Madagascar are that while snakes are a part of the reptile family that inhabits the island, none of which are classified as poisonous.
- Despite the ever popular children’s Pixar movie, Madagascar; there are actually no lions, giraffes, hippos or zebras on the entire island. Pygmy hippos once believed to have lived there are long since extinct for nearly 1,000 years.
- One strange aspect of Madagascar’s climate is that despite it being located in the tropics, it does not have a typical tropical climate. It experiences extremes winters also in some areas.
- The famous Sarcoptergian genus, Coelecanth, was thought to have been extinct for 60 million years. In 1938, a fisherman caught one in Mozambique Channel that borders Madagascar.
- The Coca-Cola Company was a major buyer of vanilla that came from Madagascar. In 1985 Coca-Cola introduces the New Coke formula which involved using synthetic vanillin, instead of real vanilla. When the customers of Coca-Cola showed their dissatisfaction for the new formula, Coca-Cola switched back to their old formuls. Madagascar’s economy then rose back to its normal levels before the new formula was released.
Historical and Cultural Facts About Madagascar
- Madagascans have a number of traditional pastimes. Moraingy is a type of hand-to-hand combat, tolon-omby the wrestling of zebu cattle, is also popular in regional areas. While fanorona, is a famous a board game invented there.
- Millions of years ago Madagascar was part of the African continent. Over time it broke away and reached the location it is in now (approximately two million years ago).
- Madagascar has lost approximately ninety percent of its original forest land since humans arrived on the island about two thousand years ago.
- Madagascar has gone by many names. Upon gaining its freedom in 1958 it named itself the Malagasy Republic, it renamed itself the Democratic Republic of Madagascar in 1975, and changed its name again in 1993 to the Republic of Madagascar.
- Lemurs are sacred. Across Madagascar, lemurs are often revered and protected by cultural taboo. Many origin myths make some connection between lemurs and humans, usually through common ancestry.
- The first humans to settle in Madagascar came from the island of Borneo, which is now divided between the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. They arrived between 350 BCE and 550 CE in canoes, and weren’t joined by mainland Africans until almost 500 years later.
- Queen Ranavalona III, the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar, ruled from 1883 to 1897 before being deposed by French colonial forces. She was named after a previous powerful queen, Queen Ranavalona I, who ruled from 1828 to 1861 and attempted to protect the sovereignty of her country against European influence.
- Zebu, a kind of African cattle, is a common meat, and peanuts, greens, bananas and rum all feature prominently.
- Madagascar is among the world’s main suppliers of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang, and also a major supplier of coffee, lychees and shrimp.
- In modern Malagasy cuisine, garlic, onions, ginger, tomatoes, curry, coconut milk, vanilla, cloves and turmeric are common flavorings.
- It was Marco Polo who gave the island its name f Madagascar. Marco Polo was the first European explorer to reach the island. The Portuguese reached the island next in 1500 and it was later colonized by the French. The French influence on cuisine, culture, architecture, and other aspects of Madagascar is still evident.
- Most of them still believe strongly in the magic powers of their ancestors. Even modern, urban Malagasies regard the deceased relatives as part of the family. Many of them bury the dead in coffins placed high up in caves and on the cliffs (to bring them closer to ancestors in heaven). During the ‘turning of the bones’ ceremonies, you can see families dancing with the dead relatives and taking photos with their bodies.