There are so many destinations that are on our travel bucket list, it’s pretty hard to keep up (so many destinations, so little time) but there is one destination that really should be on anyone’s bucket list – regardless of whether you like adventure, relaxation, luxury, or environmental getaways. There’s so much to see and do in Madagascar, but what’s so incredible about Madagascar is just how different it is to other countries in the world. So what do we know about Madagascar? (Hint: It’s a lot).
It’s pretty darn big
There’s no denying it, Madagascar is pretty darn big. In fact, it is the fourth biggest island in the whole world! Located slap bang in the center of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar lies just off the coast of Africa. Covering a total landmass of 587,041 km² – over 5,000 of that is its incredible coastline (Madagascar is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches and intricate coral reefs). Because of its immense size, the landscape in Madagascar is wonderfully diverse. There’s everything from volcanoes, to mountains, to dense rainforests, to desert plains, and just about every other habitat known to man.
When you look at a map, it’s fair to say that Madagascar is fairly close to Africa. In fact, Madagascar is only separated from the continent by the small Mozambique Channel. Because of this, many people believe the people of Madagascar to be closely related to African people and expect their culture to be heavily influenced by the African lifestyle. However, this is the case. The people of Madagascar identify as Malagasies, and actually, have closer roots to the people of Southeast Asia than they do the people of Africa. Much of their language stems back to the Asian language, and their meals are more Asian inspired than African.
The animals in Madagascar
When many people think of Madagascar, they probably think of the movie – with the zebra, lion, giraffe, and hippopotamus. However, if you’re planning on visiting Madagascar, don’t hold your hopes high for seeing them in the wild – as those animals were obviously just stranded there. However, the diverse landscape in Madagascar serves as a welcome home for hundreds of animals; many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Of course, just like the film, Madagascar is full of lemurs. In total, the country has over 70 species of lemurs! The country also holds over half of the world’s entire population of chameleons. But if you’re not into lemurs of chameleons, there are also hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and fish. The landscape is also covered in exotic plant species – including the iconic Baobab trees.
The Malagasies are animists
There are numerous countries around the world that still believe in taboo, magic and more – and Madagascar is one of them. The people of Madagascar are predominantly Christian, but there are still thousands of residents who are animists. They highly believe in the work of magic, especially from their dead ancestors. They will often bury their dead in caves and on cliff edges to ensure that they were closer to heaven. During their funerals, they would dance with, sing with and take photographs with their dead – for they were not truly dead. Instead, they would guide them in their next life.
It’s incredibly poor
Despite its rich landscape and culture, Madagascar is incredibly poor. Unfortunately, most of the residents live in poverty, and the annual GDP per capita totals up at just $401. Their failing economy is mainly put down to a failing government leadership since Madagascar’s separation from the French. Their debt is increasing each year, which is having a disastrous effect on the people there.
Madagascar is one of the most intriguing places on Earth – and definitely worth a visit, if you ever get the chance!