Madagascar, the size of which makes it one of the biggest islands in the world, is a real paradise that hides many secrets and wonders that people don’t know about. Even though modern means of transportation allow us to travel to any part of the world, few people chose the island as a destination point because of the big expenses the travel requires.
After the release of the popular animated movie “Madagascar”, many people came to believe that the island’s one and only interesting feature is the big populations of lemurs and chameleons that can be seen in their natural habitat. While one can really see many lemurs and chameleons when exploring the island, this is not all it has to offer. Today, we want to tell our readers more about this remote island that is alluring to those who like nature and wildlife. Here are the facts that we’ve managed to gather…
Madagascar: 8 interesting facts about the remote island in the Indian Ocean
1. Madagascar was under the rule of France for a long time
Even though the island attracted the attention of the Portuguese in the 16th century, the French were the first to officially have established a settlement on the island. By declaring French its official language, they aimed to strip the island off any British influence as well as some features of its culture, an interesting Madagascar fact. The government went so far as to forbid English and Malagasy languages which provoked conflicts on the part of the natives. Although the island is now an independent country also known under the name “the Malagasy Republic”, the influence of the French culture is in the local cuisine and architecture is still obvious. The majority of the population speaks French fluently, but it’s better to know several phrases in Malagasy if one doesn’t want to get in an awkward situation.
2. The island had a crazy queen
Here we’re talking about Queen Ranavalona who ruled the island for more than 30 years. She was so ruthless that none of the European countries dared to question her right to rule or try overtaking the power. Her goal to build a luxurious palace and other impressive buildings led to a serious decrease in the island’s population. She was also known for the methods she used in order to maintain control and order. The subjects accused of any crimes were to drink poison and eat 3 pieces of chicken skin. Those who died or failed to eat all the pieces were found to be guilty of the crimes they were suspected in. Those who were lucky to survive and able to eat the “meal” were thrown in deep ravines.
3. The country is a real paradise for people who love nature
Madagascar being isolated, it served as the foundation for the growth in the population of many animals that are impossible to find anywhere else. An interesting fact about Madagascar is that it’s one of the few countries characterized by a variety of lemurs’ species. Surprisingly, it’s also home to the worlds’ biggest and smallest chameleons in the world.
4. The Malagasy people have the same style of clothes for males and females
Believe it or not, but female and male natives of the island wear the same type of everyday garment called Lamba. The garment is a piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body. The design of the garment may vary depending on the purpose it’s bought for.
5. Madagascar’s cuisine is characterized by variety
Since the island’s culture was under the influence of India, France and Africa, it’s not surprising that its cuisine includes meals of all these countries. In general, the meals one can buy and eat in Madagascar are based on rice, garlic and curry powder. One of the most popular meals that is served as a side dish is lasary that is based on tomatoes and green onions.
6. The Madagascar has a very unusual funeral tradition
The funeral tradition called Famadiahna is carried out once in 7 years and is meant to show love and respect for the relatives and family members that are no longer in this world. It’s the occasion when all the family gathers together in order to get the body of the deceased person from the tomb and rewrap it in a new piece of silk. The whole process that may seem unacceptable to many, involves dancing, eating meals, drinking and sharing stories from the life of the dead person.
The tradition is not as popular as it once was because many families can’t afford to buy silk and organize the celebration. Even though the majority can’t pay for a tomb, people invest in the building of family crypts, a fun fact about Madagascar.
7. Madagascar’s men bury the umbilical cord that once connected a mother and her baby
After a baby is born, the father should take the umbilical cord and bury it somewhere near the house where the family lives. The place should be chosen carefully as it’s very important for it not to be polluted. This procedure, during the course of which a father shouldn’t turn his head, signifies the connection of a baby with his/her ancestors and serves to keep this connection.
8. The natives never have funerals on Thursday
The week of the native population starts from Thursday, which is the day to devote for productive activities bringing positive results. Funerals never take place on this day because it’s believed that it will predict a series of deaths and loses in a family, an interesting Madagascar fact.
Despite being a real wildlife paradise, Madagascar suffers from poverty. Even though the efforts of the country’s ex-president helped to reduce its debt and improve the life of the society, at present the country is coming back to its previous state characterized by political chaos and unstable economy.
I hope that this article on Madagascar facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!