25 Interesting Facts About Madagascar

  1. Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. Its closest countries are Mozambique on mainland Africa and two other island countries, Comoros and Mauritius.
  2. Madagascar is the world’s 4th largest island. Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo are the three islands larger than Madagascar. (Source)
  3. Madagascar is the 2nd largest island country in the world after Indonesia. It is also the 5th most populous island country. (Source)
  4. Around 150 species of chameleons live in Madagascar, nearly 50% of the total species. Chameleons originated in mainland Africa, but most of them are present in Madagascar. (Source)
  5. The island of Madagascar was formed in two steps. Madagascar and India pulled away from Africa around 150 million years ago. Later, Madagascar split from India 90 million years ago. No tectonic action has been seen in Madagascar for the past 80 million years. (Source)
  6. According to the latest research, humans inhabited Madagascar 11,000 years ago, far earlier than the previously estimated initial human settlement of 2,000 years. However, the cities started to form on the island around 1,000 years ago. (Source
    All species of lemurs are present only in Madagascar

  7. Around half of all birds, all species of lemurs, and almost all species of amphibians and reptiles in Madagascar are endemic (present nowhere else on earth). The island was part of continental Africa 165 million years ago, but large mammals present in Africa (elephants, giraffes, lions, etc.) are absent from Madagascar. Bones of dinosaurs and other primitive animals have been discovered in Madagascar. All of Madagascar’s large endemic animals and 97% of plants have extinct after the arrival of humans. (Source)
  8. There are around 20 ethnic groups in Madagascar. Merina people have the largest population, while all major ethnic groups are Malagasy.
  9. Portuguese were the initial Europeans to arrive in Madagascar at the beginning of the 16th Century. They found a Muslim state in southeastern Madagascar with mixed local and Afro-Arab populations. Islam arrived in Madagascar in the 10th Century through Arab traders.
  10. Radama I was the first sole ruler of this island country. He initially united Madagascar into the kingdom of Madagascar in the early 19th Century.
  11. Britain introduced Christianity and the Latin alphabet for the Malagasy language during the era of Radama I.
  12. Ranavalona I became the queen of Madagascar in 1828 after the death of her husband Radama I. She killed all possible heirs to the throne after assuming power. She later banned Christian worship and expelled missionaries. The punishment for conversion to Christianity was death. The accused of any crime had to prove his/her innocence by ingesting poison. Her brutal rule continued till her demise in 1861.
  13. Malagasy, an Austronesian language, is the national language of Madagascar. French is the country's official language.
  14. The French annexed Madagascar in 1896. Madagascar gained independence from France in 1958. Due to political instability, Madagascar has seen four republics since independence.
  15. Madagascar is one of the 46 countries on the UN list of LDCs (least developed countries). (Source)
  16. Around 47% of people in Madagascar are Christians (both Protestants and Catholics). More than 40% have traditional beliefs. About 2% are Sunni Muslims.
  17. There are 15 foreign embassies and 23 consulates in Madagascar. The island country has established 16 embassies and 54 consulates in other countries.
  18. Madagascar has faced several internal political problems after independence. But the country has no armed conflict with its neighbors or a foreign country.
  19. Madagascar is the largest producer of vanilla in the world. It produced nearly 3,000 tons of vanilla in 2016. (Source)
    Vanilla cultivation in Madagascar
    Madagascar is the world's largest vanilla producer

  20. Madagascar is the largest producer of sapphires in the world. Sapphire production started in Madagascar in the 1990s. Now it produces more sapphire than the combined production of Sri Lanka and Myanmar, two initial sources of sapphire. (Source)
  21. After Indonesia, Madagascar is the second-largest producer of cloves, a famous spice, in the world. (Source)
  22. Madagascar has the lowest rate of HIV and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the lowest in Africa. The island country has an HIV/AIDS rate of less than 1%, while several nearby countries have an HIV/AIDS infection rate of 20% to 30%. (Source)
  23. Madagascar was a haven for pirates during the 17th and 18th Centuries. It was due to a sheltered harbor, an abundance of fresh food and water, friendly inhabitants, and the absence of European powers.
  24. The aye-aye, a lemur species, is the world’s biggest nocturnal primate. This lemur is present only in Madagascar. An oddly thin middle finger is the unique feature of this primate. (Source)
  25. The Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur in Madagascar is the smallest true primate. It was discovered in 1992 in western Madagascar. (Source)


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