Madagascar is Africa’s largest island and also the fourth largest in the world and due to its unique creation an estimated 160 million years ago, the plant and animal life have also evolved in unique ways.
Being among the largest islands in the world it is also ranked as the eighth continent. The country has relied much on tourism as travelers from around the world do come for the unusual plant and animal life. As a matter of fact most of the animals and plants are unique to the island and cannot be found anywhere else on earth.
Some call the island “the land of living fossils” since many of the plants and animals found alive here and only found in fossil form in other parts of the world. Some two-thirds of the worlds’ chameleons can be found here.
Among the top five sites on the island/continent are:
1. Antananarivo – The capital with a French colonial look. A large open air market is a center of activity
2. Canal des Pangalenes – This 300 mile long man-made canal also features lakes and beaches
3. Isalo National Park – This national park contains a wide variety of animals, including lemurs that roam the varied terrain
4. Ambohimanga – Use as a place of worship for the past 500 years
5. Tsingy de Bemaraha – A nature preserve that is home to mangrove forests, birds, more lemurs and bizarre and unworldly rock formations.
Visitors might also be interested to note that Madagascar is a major supplier for vanilla used by the Coca-Cola Company for their drinks. The national tree of the island is the baobab which can sometimes reach heights of 100 feet and trunks with 36 feet diameters.
Residents of the island also practice their own traditional religion which focuses on links between the living and the dead. Some believe the spirits of the dead live in the bodies of the lemurs that are honored by many of the island residents. About 40% are Christian, while the remainders are Muslims and animists.
The natives or Malagasy are classified into eight distinct groups and trace some origins back to Indonesia but the island now is made up of many races and cultures.