35 Interesting Facts About Madagascar

Last updated on July 8th, 2017

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa. Over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. And today, 90% of its population lives on less than $2 per day. Learn more about this country with the following facts.

35 Interesting facts about Madagascar

#1. The bard of Malagasy literature, Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, is also Africa’s first modern poet. Born in a poor family, he grew up to master African and French surreal poetry. He was declared the National Poet of Madagascar in 1960.

#2. Hainteny, translated as “knowledge of words,” is a Malagasy oral tradition, and is quite different from anything you have heard before. It heavily uses metaphors, folktales, fables, riddles and historical poems to convey simple messages.

#3. Kabary means public discourse, but through indirect speech. It is actually a social game, where two “players” debate with each other but can never directly counter one another. For example, to counter someone’s illogical points, one might say: The dog’s bark: it isn’t might, but fright.

#4. Both men and women wear the same clothing in Madagascar, lamba. There are lambas for marriages, lambas for work, lambas for elders, lambas for children and even the dead are wrapped in a special kind of lamba before burial. Madagascar is a great place to open a lamba shop, if you ask me.

#5. Madagascar has made an understanding with its ghosts. In popular Malagasy belief, the dead look out after the living, and the living look out for the dead.

Inteersting facts: Madagascar on world map
Madagascar on map

#6. Now, “looking out for the dead” in Madagascar is both scary and funny the same time, though a bit complicated. In a ceremony called Famadihana, the dead remains of an ancestor are first literally dug out and placed on the field. Then, the family members dance around the skeleton and engage in funny social debates, or “Kabari.” The dead ancestor then goes back inside the earth again, happy and wrapped in a new lamba.

#7. The lemur may look like a monkey tripping on cocaine, but it is actually a sacred animal in Madagascar, deeply revered and worshipped by the Malagasy people. To them, lemurs carry the souls of their ancestors

#8. A special species of Baobab, known as the Mother of the forest, Adansonia grandidieri, is only found in Madagascar. The striking landscape of The Avenue of the Baobabs has become a cultural identity of not only Madagascar, but also of Africa.

#9. Madagascar has its own brand of fight clubs. Moraingy is a popular sport in the coastal regions, consisting of hand-to-hand combat without any weapons.

Street view of Madagascar
Street view of Madagascar. Image credit – Iqbal Osman

#10. Music is not viewed as a luxury, but a sacred part of the Malagasy daily life. Music is believed to be the connection to an ancestor’s soul, and sometimes when the party gets hotter, rum is poured into the instruments as a show of respect for the dead.

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