Madagascar, which lies off the coast of southeastern Africa, is the fourth largest island in the world. Covered with mountains, coastal plains and rainforests, this country has animals and plants found nowhere else in the world.
Unfortunately, most of the people living here are poor. To feed their families, they kill animals and cut down trees. They dig deep into the earth in search of gems. Conservationists worry that the beauty of Madagascar will disappear.
Madagascar was a French colony from the 1880s to 1960. Since gaining independence, Madagascar has endured wars and political conflict. Madagascar is a tropical country and endures tropical storms and cyclones. It was affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Diseases, such as malaria, are also a problem. In 2013, an outbreak of the bubonic plague caused 20 deaths.
- 21.9 million people live in Madagascar.
- The country has 226,658 square miles of land.
- Malagasy is the official language, although many people also speak French.
- Native faiths and Christianity are the major religions.
- The life expectancy here is 68 years.
Visit National Geographic to see photos of Madagascar.
Question: What is the culture like in Madagascar?
Answer: Madagascar has a diverse culture. People first settled there 2,000 years ago from Africa and Asia. You may see rickshaws, traditional Asian vehicles, as well as African handicrafts. People pay special attention to the dead, believing angry dead relatives can cause bad luck.