8 Cool Facts About Madagascar

8 Cool Facts About Madagascar

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean just off the southeastern coast of Africa. It has been the inspiration for many documentaries and movies and is one of the most interesting and intriguing places on Earth. While you may think you know a lot about Madagascar, there are some interesting, little known facts that may surprise you. Here are 8 cool facts about this popular island country:

1. Most of Madagascar’s wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth

Madagascar has been an isolated island for around 70 million years, breaking away first Africa around 165 million years ago and then from India nearly 100 million years later. This isolation led to the development of a unique flora and fauna, with 90 percent of its wildlife found only in Madagascar. Among its extinct mammals were giant flightless birds and dwarf hippos.

Dwarf Hippo Madagascar

2. Lemurs are sacred in Madagascar

Across Madagascar, lemurs are often revered and protected by cultural taboo. Many origin myths make some connection between lemurs and humans, usually through common ancestry. As of 2012, there were 103 living species and subspecies of lemur, almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered. There are also several species of extinct lemurs- including a giant lemur.

Aye Aye : Lemur Monkeys

3. Madagascar was settled by Asians before mainland Africans

The first humans to settle in Madagascar came from the island of Borneo, which is now divided between the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. They arrived between 350 BCE and 550 CE in canoes, and weren’t joined by mainland Africans until almost 500 years later. Over time, other African, Asian and European settler groups arrived, each bringing their own unique contributions to the culture of the island.

Madagascar Map

4. Before French colonial rule, Madagascar was ruled by a woman

Queen Ranavalona III, the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar, ruled from 1883 to 1897 before being deposed by French colonial forces. She was named after a previous powerful queen, Queen Ranavalona I, who ruled from 1828 to 1861 and attempted to protect the sovereignty of her country against European influence.

Madagascar Ruled by Woman

5. Many native plants of Madagascar have medicinal properties

There are several plant species that can be used as herbal remedies. For example, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and other cancers can be treated by the drugs vinblastine and vincristine, which are derived from the Madagascar periwinkle.

Madagascar Periwinkle

6. There may have been an anarchist pirate utopia in Madagascar

Madagascar was a popular resting place for European pirates and traders between the late 1700s and early 1800s, and was rumored to be the site of the independent pirate nation of Libertalia, which may or may not have existed. According to the story pirates renounced their national identities and called themselves Liberi, making their own system of government and law. They waged war against states and lawmakers, releasing prisoners and freeing slaves.

Pirate Ship

7. Madagascar has strong human rights protections

Human rights in Madagascar are protected under the constitution, and the state has signed agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities are legally protected, and freedom of assembly is also guaranteed. State repression and torture are low, and there is an ongoing effort of eliminate corruption in the security forces.

Decalaration of Human Rights Madagascar

8. The cuisine of Madagascar reflects its cultural diversity

Foods eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have settled on the island. The cornerstone of the diet is rice- in fact, the word “to eat” in Malagasy is mihinam-bary, which means “to eat rice.” Rice and local food sources were added to by East African migrants, Arab and Indian merchants, and European transatlantic traders. In modern Malagasy cuisine, garlic, onions, ginger, tomatoes, curry, coconut milk, vanilla, cloves and turmeric are common flavorings. Zebu, a kind of African cattle, is a common meat, and peanuts, greens, bananas and rum all feature prominently. Madagascar is among the world’s main suppliers of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang, and also a major supplier of coffee, lychees and shrimp.

Madagascar Cuisine

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