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 Avenue of the Baobabs (Allee des Baobabs) in Madagascar
The Avenue of the Baobabs (RN8) is a dirt road lined by Madagascar's famous Grandidier's baobabs, nicknamed 'roots of the sky' between Morondava and Belo sur Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar.
Image: Bernard Gagnon

where in the world is Madagascar?
Location map of Madagascar

Flag of Madagascar
Flag of Madagascar

Madagascar in brief

Destination Madagascar, a Nations Online country profile of the Big Red Island. Africa's largest island is located in the Indian Ocean, about 420 km (260 miles) east of the coast of Mozambique and is separated from the African continent by the Mozambique Channel.

Madagascar shares maritime borders with Comoros, France (Mayotte and Réunion), Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles.

The fourth-largest island in the world has been isolated for about 80 million years, and many of its plants and animals are unique to the island. The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar-Indian landmass from Africa around 150 million years ago. 70 million years later, Madagascar split off from the Indian tectonic plate. Due to its isolation in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, flora and fauna on the island had developed independently.

With an area of 587,041 km², the island is slightly larger than France, or twice the size of the US state of Arizona. The island has a subtropical to tropical maritime climate.

Madagascar has a population of more than 28 million inhabitants in 2021. The capital and largest city is Antananarivo. Spoken languages are Malagasy and French. Christianity is the predominant religion, more than 80% of the population are Christians, but traditional beliefs are deeply rooted in society.

What is Madagascar famous for?

The island of Madagascar is best known for its unique fauna and flora, but there is more to learn about it.

A Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) in Nosy Be island, Madagascar
A male Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) in Lokobe Strict Reserve of Nosy Be island. Madagascar is home to almost half of the world's chameleon species.
Image: Charles J. Sharp

  • The oldest island on the planet
    Madagascar is possibly the oldest island on the planet since the break up of Gondwana continent.
  • A unique fauna and flora
    The island is best known for its unique fauna and flora; it is populated by lemurs, fossas, Malagasy civets, chameleons, frogs, and weird aye-ayes.
  • Humpback whales
    In its coastal waters, the island is a breeding and calving ground for humpback whales.
  • The elephant bird
    Madagascar was home to the elephant bird, an extinct flightless creature; the Vorombe titan was the largest known bird in the world, with height up to 3m and weight up to 700kg.
  • Baobabs and traveler's palms
    Probably the most famous plants of Madagascar are the iconic baobabs (Adansonia grandidieri) and the traveler's palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), a national landmark. The Allée des Baobabs, the dirt road lined with baobab trees, is probably the most photographed attraction in the country.
  • Rice
    The chief food crop of Madagascar is rice.
  • Vanilla
    About half of the world's production of vanilla comes from Madagascar.
  • The Settlement of Madagascar
    The settlement of Madagascar is one of the most unusual and least understood episodes in human prehistory. Madagascar was settled about 1200 years ago by a very small group of women (about 30), most of whom were of Maritime Southeast Asian descent (about 93%). [The Royal Society]
  • Ancestor worship and taboos in Madagascar
    Even though 85% of Malagasy are Christians by name, ancestor worship (famadihana), folk beliefs and taboos (fady) are deeply rooted in society.
    Image: Steve Evans

  • Queen Ranavalona I
    Madagascar's Queen Ranavalona I (reigned 1828-61) was dubbed the "Mad Queen" by British colonial powers for taking drastic measures to expand her empire while protecting Malagasy sovereignty from the aggressive advance of European influence, including that of British Protestant missionaries.
  • Face painting
    Masonjoany is the application of sandalwood paste to the face, full face or in floral patterns, or both.
  • Lamba
    Lambas are the traditional, woven garments of rectangular length (like a scarf or a sash) worn by both men and women.
  • Zanahary
    In traditional beliefs, Zanahary is the creator god and supreme deity of the Malagasy pantheon. The god includes female and male aspects and manifests in both heavenly and earthly forms.
  • Fady
    The daily life of the Malagasy people is dominated by thousands of cultural taboos (fady). Fady are (mainly superstitious) taboos, rules or behaviors that apply to a wide range of situations, people, places, or colors. To break a taboo, ritual negotiations with the ancestors would be necessary.
  • Famadihana
    Famadihana is a family celebration of a special kind. An important part of the traditional celebration is that the remains of the ancestors are taken from their burial site, wrapped in fresh cloths and participate in the festivities.
  • Aloalo
    The aloalo is the Malagasy version of a tombstone, a pole sculpture placed on the graves of important people in the southwestern region of Madagascar.
  • Salegy
    Salegy is the popular contemporary music from Madagascar.
  • Moraingy
    Moraingy is Madagascar's combat sport, also known as Malagasy bare-knuckle boxing.
  • Libertalia and Antsiranana Bay
    The Antsiranana Bay was used for shelter by a number of pirates and privateers during the Golden Age of Piracy. It was possibly the location of the legendary pirate colony Libertalia.
  • Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
    The Great Tsingy and the Little Tsingy, "the place where one cannot walk barefoot," is a bizarre limestone badland, a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. [UNESCO]
  • Nosy Be
    Nosy Be is an island off the coast of northwestern Madagascar and the island nation's most popular beach destination.
Madagascar | Madagasikara


Madagascar, the Red Island, the Rainbow Island, the Eighth Continent, there are many names for the world's 4th largest island.
Madagascar is situated in the southwestern area of the Indian Ocean, east of the coast of Africa, about 400 km off the coast of Mozambique. The island is recognized as one of the world's top ten hotspots for biodiversity.
The island nation is inhabited by various ethnic groups of Malayo-Indonesian, mixed African and Malayo-Indonesian, and people with an Arab ancestry.
Archaeological research in the 20th century found evidence that human settlers reached Madagascar about five centuries before Europeans discovered the island, Malay-Indonesian seafarers arrived around the first century CE, Arabians followed in the sixth century and established trading posts there.
Since the 16th century, French and British influence left their mark.
In October 1958, the Malagasy Republic was proclaimed as an autonomous state within the French Community and gained full independence in June 1960.
Like many former colonial countries, Madagascar went through various political states such as uprisings, provisional governments, single-party rule, socialist economic policies, and the threat of secession. Today the country is on a slow and steady economic and political growth path from an extremely low level.
related countries: France, United Kingdom


Country Profile

Official Name:
Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
Republique de Madagascar

short form: Madagascar
int'l long form: Republic of Madagascar
former: Malagasy Republic

ISO Country Code: mg, MDG

Local Time = East African Time (UTC +3h)
Actual Time: Sat-Aug-21  14:48

Country Calling Code: +261

Capital City: Antananarivo (Tananarive)

Other Cities:
Antsirabé (about 500,000), Mahajanga (about 400,000), Toamasina (about 450,000) more


Official Sites of Madagascar

Senat building in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar
The building of the Senat of Madagscar in Antananarivo. The Senat is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Madagascar; the National Assembly is the lower chamber.
Image: Lemurbaby

Political System of Madagascar

The Republic of Madagascar has a semi-presidential system of government with a directly elected president. The head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister.
The president is elected for a 5-year term (he is eligible for a second term). The prime minister is nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president.
The bicameral parliament of Madagascar consists of two chambers, the Senate and the National Assembly.
The executive branch lies in the hands of the government, while the legislative branch is shared between the government and the two houses of parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and legislative branches.

Note: External links will open in a new browser window.

Présidence de la République de Madagascar
Office of the President of the Republic of Madagascar.

Primature Mahazoarivo Madagascar
Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Madagascar.

Assemblée nationale malgache
Official site of the Malagasy National Assembly.

Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de Madagascar
Madagascar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Diplomatic Missions

Permanent Mission of Madagascar to the UN
Information site of the Permanent Mission.
Ambassade de Madagascar au Canada
The Embassy of Madagascar in Canada.
Représentation de Madagascar en Suisse
The Madagascar Embassy in Switzerland.
Madagascar Consulate General
General Consulate of Madagascar, South Africa.
Malagasy Diplomatic Missions
List of Malagasy Diplomatic Missions abroad.

Institut National de la Statistique Malgache
The National Institute of Statistics.

Madagascar's national meteorological service.



Maps from Madagascar

Madagascar Map
Map of Madagascar (click map to enlarge)
Image: ©


Map of Madagascar
Detailed map of Madagascar.
Google Earth Google Map Madagascar
Searchable map/satellite view of Madagascar.
Google Earth Google Map Antananarivo
Searchable map/satellite view of Madagascar's capital city.

Small Map of Madagascar
Indian Ocean Map
Political map of the West Indian Ocean.

Political Map of Africa
The 54 countries of Africa.
Map of Africa
A Relief Map of Africa.



News of Madagascar

Madagascar Newsstand

Online News from Madagascar

La Gazette de la Grande Ile
Antananarivo daily (in French and Malagasy)
L'Express de Madagascar
Comprehensive Madagascar News (in French and Malagasy)
Madagascar Tribune
Madagascar News (in French and Malagasy)
Midi Madagasikara
Regional News (in French and Malagasy)
A somewhat outdated online magazine specialized on Madagascar.
Tia Tanindrazana
Malagasy daily.

International coverage of Madagascar
Al Jazeera Madagascar
Madagascar - Today's latest from Al Jazeera.

AP NEWS - Madagascar
Madagascar-related news from the Associated Press.

France24 Madagascar
France24 Madagascar related news (in French)


Arts & Culture of Madagascar

Aloalo - funeral poles from Madagascar
Aloalo - funeral pole sculptures from Madagascar in the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, a museum of indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Image: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

Arts & Culture

Wikipedia W Culture of Madagascar
Wikipedia entry for the Culture of Madagascar.

Malagasy Culture
Article about the culture of Madagascar by Malagasya, a Malagasy travel organizer.

Musee de la Photographie de Madagascar
The Museum of Photography is located in Antananarivo's Haute Ville area; it displays rare images about the history of Madagascar.

Pirates Museum
The Pirate Museum in Madagascar tells the story of pirates, including the pirates of Madagascar.

Links to Malagasy music
Artists, lyrics, bibliographies and discographies of Malagasy musicians.

Madagascar langoustes
Edible art? Colorful Madagascar langoustes.
Image: Claire TRESSE



Business & Economy of Madagascar

Rice fields village near Toamasina, Madagascar.
Rice fields village in the central highlands of Madagascar. Rice is the chief food crop on the island.
Image: mariusz kluzniak

Economy of Madagascar

Despite its many, mostly untapped, natural resources and an emerging tourism industry fueled by the country's unique environment, Madagascar remains one of the poorest countries in the world and is heavily dependent on foreign aid. An estimated 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The economy of Madagascar is still largely based on agriculture; the sector accounts for more than 25% of the country's GDP and employs about 80% of the population.
With its mostly unregulated economy, a weak judicial system and rampant government corruption, Madagascar faces challenges to improve education, healthcare, and the environment to boost long-term economic growth.

Banky Foiben'i Madagasikara
Madagascar's Central Bank.

Chambre de Commerce, d'Industrie, d'Artisanat et d'Agriculture
Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Craft, and Agriculture.

Major Companies in Madagascar

Karenjy is an automobile manufacturer based in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. The company produces vehicles based on the Renault 18 and Renault Express.

Vakoka Vakiteny
Vakoka Vakiteny is a publisher producing literature for children and youth in the Malagasy language. The Malagasy-owned company is located in Toliara in the southwest of Madagascar (Atsimo Andrefana Region).


The chief port of Madagascar in Toamasina.
Ship-to-shore cranes at Madagascar's main port Toamasina, the country's commercial center. Port de Tamatave is one of the island's five major ports.
Image: HoneyGaLe

Air Madagascar (dead link)
Air Madagascar is the country's national carrier; its main hub is at Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo (TNR).

There are two unconnected rail networks in Madagascar. There is the Fianarantsoa-Côte Est railway that connects Fianarantsoa with the port city of Manakara. The other line connects Ampasimanolotra port with the capital Antananarivo.

Fianarantsoa Cote Est (dead link)
The FCE train line links the highland city of Fianarantsoa with the east coast town of Manakara.

Madarail or Madagascar Railways is a railroad company that operates the railroad line between the port city of Ampasimanolotra and the capital Antananarivo.

Antananarivo train station Soarano
Gare de Soarano in Antananarivo. For lack of travelers, the former main train station has been converted into a shopping center. There are plans to modernize the island's rail network.
Image: Lemurbaby



Tourism in Madagascar

Luxury tourism in Madagascar
Despite the poverty of the island, luxury tourism has taken hold in this heavily indebted poor country. Guests at these luxury resorts pay more for a night than a local can spend in a year, and the island serves only as a picturesque backdrop or an outdoor amusement park.
Image: Roberto Marchegiani

Destination Madagascar - Travel and Tour Guides


Discover Madagascar:

Office Maison du Tourisme de Madagascar MTM
The official site of Madagascar Tourism provides travel and tourism information.

Office Régional du Tourisme de Nosy Be
The official guide to the Nosy Be archipelago.

Office du Tourisme de Sainte-Marie
Sainte-Marie (Nosy Boraha) Tourist Office.

A guide to Madagascar and its unique and diverse species of wildlife.

Wikivoyage Logo Wikivoyage: Madagascar
The free worldwide travel guide in many languages about traveling in Madagascar.

City Guide
Official site of the city of Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital (in French and Malagasy).

Panoramic view of Antananarivo from the Queen's Palace
Panoramic view of Antananarivo from the Queen's Palace, with Mahamasina Stadium and Lake Anosy lined with jacaranda trees. In the middle of the lake is the Monument of the Black Angel (Monument de l'Ange Noir).
Image: airmadagascar



UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The limestone forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha
The limestone forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: Ralph Kränzlein

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madagascar
There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madagascar, one cultural and two natural sites. Additionally, eight properties are listed in UNESCO's Tentative List, an inventory of those properties which each state party intends to consider for nomination. (see the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madagascar).

The following links lead to a detailed description of the respective World Heritage Site at UNESCO.

World Heritage Site Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga includes a citadel and a royal cemetery, as well as a group of holy sites. The hill has a sacred character and is closely associated with national identity. For more than five centuries, the compound has been venerated by the population and remains today a place of worship.

World Heritage Site Rainforests of the Atsinanana
The rainforests of Atsinanana comprise six national parks spread across the eastern part of the island. These relict forests are critical for maintaining ongoing ecological processes and for the survival of Madagascar's unique biodiversity, which reflects the island's geological history.

World Heritage Site Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve
Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is a karstic landscape with rolling hills and limestone uplands featuring impressive 'tsingy' peaks and a 'forest' of limestone needles and the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo river.

, Madagascar.
One of the seven gates of the Rova complex with sacred fig trees on the royal hill of Ambohimanga in the north of Antananarivo. The Rova of Ambohimanga served as the spiritual capital of the Merina Kingdom.
Image: Jose Antonio


Education in Madagascar

The central building of the University of Antananarivo
The central building of the University of Antananarivo, the main public university of Madagascar. It was founded in 1955 as the University of Madagascar, and since 1960 it has been known as "Université d'Antananarivo."
Image: Falimalala

Ministere de l'education nationale
Official website of the ministry of education

Université d'Antananarivo
The autonomous University of Madagascar is the primary public university of Madagascar.

Université de Fianarantsoa
The University of Fianarantsoa.
Université de Toliara
The University of Toliara.


Environment & Nature

Andringitra mountains in the Andringitra National Park of Madagascar
The Andringitra mountains in the Andringitra National Park in southeastern Madagascar.
Image: Martha de Jong-Lantink

Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Elevage et de la Pêche
Offical website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Madagascar.

Parcs Nationaux et Réserves Naturelles de Madagascar
Official site of Madagascar's National Parks (in French)

A Ring-Tailed Lemur, these primates are endemic to Madagascar.
A Ring-Tailed Lemur. These lemuriform primates are endemic to Madagascar.
Image: Mathias Appel

Impact Madagascar
The Malagasy NGO was born from the idea that it is not possible to protect the environment without considering the people who depend on its resources on a daily basis.

SEED Madagascar
SEED is a registered UK charity and Malagasy non-governmental organization established in 2000. SEED is working in southeast Madagascar to alleviate poverty, improve well-being and protect unique environments.

Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS is a Malagasy non-profit association, which organizes and pursues various conservation projects in Madagascar.

MBG: Madagascar Biodiversity and Conservation
David Parks and Larry Barnes Madagascar site - A photographic tour of Madagascar.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Science and Horticulture: Madagascar
KEW articles about Madagascar's plant diversity.

Nosy Lonja, Madagascar's Sugar Loaf in Andovobazaha Bay
Madagascar's "Sugar Loaf" mountain Nosy Lonja in Andovobazaha Bay.
Image: Regiondiana


Madagascar History

An Austronesian outrigger canoe of the Vahoaka Ntaolo, the first Austronesian ancestors of the Malagasy.
An Austronesian outrigger canoe. The Vahoaka Ntaolo, the first Austronesian ancestors of the Malagasy, probably used similar boats to reach the big island from the Sunda Islands (today Indonesia).
Painting by Louis Le Breton (1818–1866)

Historical, linguistic, genetic, and some archaeological evidence points to Southeast Asia, East Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East as the homelands of the Malagasy people. The roots of Malagasy culture can be traced back to the descendants of people from the Indian Ocean, as the Malagasy population has ancestors from all coasts except Australia.

A Historical Timeline for Madagascar
History timeline of Madagascar by Wildmadagascar.

BBC-logo Madagascar profile - Timeline
A chronology of key events by the BBC.

Madagascar HISTORY
Library of Congress Country Study - History of Madagascar (1994).

Wikipedia W History of Madagascar
Wikipedia article on Madagascar's history.

Encyclopædia Britannica History of Madagascar - Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica article about the history of Madagascar.

Map of migration and expansion of Austronesian people
As of now, factual information on the settlement of Madagascar remains incomplete, but much recent multidisciplinary research and work in the fields of archaeology, genetics, linguistics, and history confirms that the Malagasy were originally and predominantly Austronesian peoples indigenous to the Sunda Islands. The map shows the chronological migration and expansion of Austronesian people across the Indo-Pacific.
Image: Obsidian Soul


Indigenous People of Madagascar

Madagascans in the countryside selling manioc roots.
Group picture of Madagascans in the countryside selling manioc roots (cassava) and yams.
Image: Steve Evans

The population of Madagascar is predominantly of mixed Austronesian and East African origin. There are 18 major Malagasy ethnic groups on the island.

Wikipedia W Antandroy people
The Antandroy are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group that herds their cattle in the arid semi-desert of the Androy region.

Wikipedia W Antankarana people
The Antankarana are an ethnic group inhabiting the northern tip of Madagascar, around Antsiranana. The "people of the tsingy" split off from the Sakalava in the early 17th century.

Wikipedia W Antemoro people
The Antemoro are an ethnic group of Somali origin living on the southeast coast, mainly between Manakara and Farafangana.

Wikipedia W Bara people
The Bara are a zebu-herding, cattle rustling ethnic group of predominantly Bantu descent, living mainly around their historical capital Ihosy.

Wikipedia W Betsileo people
The Betsileo are an ethnic group from the highlands of the island. The third largest population group is of mixed African-Asian descent.

Wikipedia W Betsimisaraka people
The second largest ethnic group in Madagascar inhabits a long strip in the eastern coastal region of Madagascar. The Betsimisaraka are a mixture of Bantu-African, Southeast Asian and some European ancestry.

Wikipedia W Mahafaly people
The Mahafaly inhabit the plains of the Betioky-Ampanihy area. They are presumably of southeast African descent.

Wikipedia W Merina people
The Merina people are the largest ethnic group in Madagascar. Their origin is mixed and consists mostly of Southeast Asians who arrived before the 5th century.

Wikipedia W Sakalava people
The Sakalava are a diverse ethnic group in the western and northwestern regions of Madagascar. Their languages are strongly influenced by Africa.

Wikipedia W Tsimihety people
The Tsimihety live mainly in the north-central region of Madagascar in the mountainous part of the island. The rebellious Tsimihety are of African descent.

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Madagascar
Minority Rights Group International: Minorities and indigenous peoples of Madagascar.



Additional Information

Selected country profiles of Madagascar published by international organizations.


Amnesty International: Madagascar
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

BBC Country Profile: Madagascar
Country profiles by the British public service broadcaster.

BTI Transformation Index Madagascar
Madagascar Country Report 2020 by Bertelsmann Stiftung.

FAO: Madagascar
UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Freedom House: Madagascar
The U.S. government-funded non-profit organization whose goal is to promote liberal democracies worldwide.

GlobalEDGE: Madagascar
Madagascar ranking by the Global business knowledge portal.

The Heritage Foundation: Madagascar
Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank.

Human Rights Watch: Madagascar
HRW conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

OEC: Madagascar
The Observatory of Economic Complexity provides the latest international trade data.

Reporters Without Borders: Madagascar
RSF (Reporters sans frontières) is an international NGO that defends and promotes media freedom.

Wikipedia: Madagascar
Wikipedia's Madagascar page in many languages.

World Bank Data: Madagascar
World Development Indicators database.

The CIA World Factbook -- Madagascar
CIA World Factbook Madagascar Page.


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