Madagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands.
Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population.
Initial human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and 550 AD by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. These were joined around 1000 CE by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting socio-political alliances. Beginning in the early 19th century, most of the island was united and ruled as the Kingdom of Madagascar by a series of Merina nobles. The monarchy collapsed in 1897 when the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire, from which the island gained independence in 1960.
The autonomous state of Madagascar has since undergone four major constitutional periods, termed Republics. Since 1992 the nation has officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However, in a popular uprising in 2009 the last elected president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina in a move widely viewed by the international community as a coup d’état.
Madagascar is probably of the most interesting countries in the world, because of its specific flora and fauna that is one of the reasons for so many visitors, including scientists. The islands offer the adventure of the rainforest to those who love hiking and trekking. While hiking you may see the unique fauna of the islands, lemurs and sifakas are certainly most famous. Although it is harder to spot them while in the rainforest,they can easily be seen in the drier places of the island.
You may also see many species of amphibians and lizards and many birds. Of the flora there are many things to see, like the great variety of palms, the endemic baobab trees and the plenty of orchids.
Once you are tired of hiking, you may go down the trail and end up on some of the islands beautiful beaches with gentle sands and clear waters. There are many deserted beaches, with only the wildlife around you will relax and enjoy. On one of the most famous parts of Madagascar, the tropical island of Nosy Be, are many beautiful beaches, and a wide range of hotels and restaurants. While in Nosy Be you can go scuba diving or snorkeling, wind or kite surfing or deep sea fishing.
The capital city of Madagascar is Antananavario and it is the largest city, this is a city with unique architecture mixing the old stylish wooden houses with modern architecture and colonial buildings in French style. There are many churches to visit, and many open air markets known by the name Zomas. In Madagascar one should try the bananas, there is a huge number of varieties, there is also plenty of tropical fruits you can try and off course the coffee, which is handmade and irresistible.
Most Air France flights arrive in Tana close to midnight (and depart about an hour later) so that the visitor to Madagascar’s capital is likely to arrive and depart in darkness. The ten-mile drive into the city passes through not-quite slums and modest residential areas and arrives in a hilly colonial city of great charm.
Independence Avenue (or Arabe Fahaleovantena as it is known in Malagasy) runs from the railway station, along the valley formed by two ridges which converge, effectively trapping the lower town or Analakely. Steep streets and alleys and many flights of stairs lead to the upper town made up of Antaninarenina and Isoraka. The main staircase which leads for Avenue de l’Independence (French is Madagascar’s second official language) to Place de l’Independence is wide enough to have vendors on both sides selling rubber stamps, wood carvings, raffia goods and other local crafts. The square at the top has a garden on one side and Le Buffet de Jardin on the other where one can recover from the climb with a fruit juice or an expensive (and inferior) glass of wine. By far the best choice is a tall glass of Three Horses Beer.