35 Interesting Facts About Madagascar

Last updated on April 17th, 2019

Facts about its history, forests, people, poverty, food, plantation and more

21. Madagascar has an entire forest made of stones. Tsingy – Madagascar’s Stone Forest, has big, tall stones naturally lined up along with trees.

22. Racially speaking, Madagascar is truly unique. The Malagasy people are descendants of African and Asian people, who migrated from Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Indonesia.

23. Madagascar had two breakups during its early days. After a break from the African continent around 160 million years ago, it started to drift toward the east along with its new partner – The Indian subcontinent. But then, around 88 million years ago, India broke off with Madagascar, too, and it became an island near Africa.

24. But that was a blessing in disguise for Madagascar. Those breakups isolated Madagascar so much that it developed its own unique ecosystem. 90% of the species in Madagascar can’t be found anywhere else on earth.

25. “Govern a country as you would roast a crocodile on a spit” – A proverb from Malagasy literature. It leaves little room to say anything else.

26. The early Malagasy people irrigated their crops “like a boss.” The technique they used was called “slash and burn,” and it would involve cutting down a forest, and then burning the remains. After cultivating that land for a while, they got bored and moved on to the next rainforest for some more slashing and burning.

27. Though rich in biodiversity, Madagascar is totally cashless. While Africa is the poorest continent of the World, Madagascar is one of the poorest nations of Africa. 90% of the population survives on less than $2 a day.

28. Poverty doesn’t dissuade the people of Madagascar from building expensive burial tombs for their dead, or burying the dead with jewels and precious metals. In fact, many families spend more on their dead than on themselves.

29. The “Aye Aye” is not a pirate’s call but a rodent of Madagascar, which looks a drug addict running away from rehab. Incidentally, this little animal has an unusually large middle finger.

30. Some 100-odd Zafimaniry villages of the tropical rainforests in Madagascar produce beautiful crafts from timber. It has been recognized internationally with UNESCO placing it on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Transport in Madagascar
Interesting Facts About Madagascar – Mode of transport in the country. Image credit – NH53

31. The natural beauty of Madagascar earned it another prestigious distinction from the UN. The Rainforests of the Atsinanana on the eastern coast were declared a World Heritage Site in 2007.

32. Madagascar has a healthy share of exotic fruits in its basket. Fruits like jackfruit, longan, avocado, custard apple, breadfruit, and baobab all grow on this tiny island tropical island

33. Though the size of Madagascar is almost twice that of the UK, Madagascar has just 1% of the total paved road length of the UK.

34. The people of Madagascar relish rice like no one else. The verb for eating a meal is “mihinam-bary,” which literally translates to “eat rice.”

35. Ranovola is served as a tea in Madagascar, but is far from one. Its preparation goes something like this: burn rice in a pan, pour water, strain and enjoy your morning tea.

Madagascar – country at a glance

Independence26 June 1960 (from France)
Table last updatedJuly 5, 2019
Capital CityAntananarivo
(18°55′S 47°31′E)
Largest CityAntananarivo
(18°55′S 47°31′E)
Areatotal: 587,041 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,501 sq km
Population25,683,610 (July 2018 est.)
Official LanguageMalagasy and French
BordersIsland country
CurrencyMalagasy ariary (MGA)
Literacy rate64.7%
Mean elevation615 m
DemonymMalagasy and Madagascan
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
ReligionChristianity and Islam
Life expectancy at birth66.6 Years (2018)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
National anthem"Ry Tanindraza nay malala o" (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)
Government typesemi-presidential republic
PresidentAndry Rajoelina
Prime MinisterChristian Ntsay
Climatetropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south
Terrainnarrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center
Mean elevation615 m
Lowest pointIndian Ocean 0 m
Highest pointMaromokotro 2,876 m
Natural resourcesgraphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, rare earth elements, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower
National symbolstraveller's palm, zebu
National colorsred, green, white
National holidayIndependence Day, 26 June (1960)
Agricultural land71.1%
Birth rate31 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Sex ratio1 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Industriesmeat processing, seafood, soap, beer, leather, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism, mining
Exports$2.29 billion (2017 est.)
coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar, cotton cloth, clothing, chromite, petroleum products
Imports$2.738 billion (2017 est.)
capital goods, petroleum, consumer goods, food
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,600 (2017 est.)
Time ZoneEAT (UTC+3)
Internet country code.mg
Calling Code+261
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia