Top 10 things to do in Madagascar

Madagascar

Expect the unexpected in the land of the lemurs and the so-called eighth continent.

Madagascar is a country.

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar) and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, 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 and other environmental threats.

Initial human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and AD 550 by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. These were joined around AD 1000 by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa. 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 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. Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014 when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the international community.

In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated at just over 22 million, 90 percent of whom live on less than two dollars per day. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both. Ecotourism and agriculture, paired with greater investments in education, health and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar's development strategy. Under Ravalomanana these investments produced substantial economic growth but the benefits were not evenly spread throughout the population, producing tensions over the increasing cost of living and declining living standards among the poor and some segments of the middle class. As of 2014, the economy has been weakened by the recently concluded political crisis and quality of life remains low for the majority of the Malagasy population.

Overall rating: 4.8
Country
Typical length of visit: 4 days

Top 10 things to do in Madagascar

Tôlanaro

Tôlanaro
Tôlanaro or Tolagnaro is a city on the southeast coast of Madagascar. It is the capital of the Anosy Region and of the Tôlanaro District. It has been a port ...

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve
Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is a nature reserve located near the western coast of Madagascar in Melaky Region at 18°40′S 44°45′E / 18.667°S 44.750°E / -18.667; 44.750 . ...

Antsirabe

Antsirabe
Antsirabe is the third largest city in Madagascar and the capital of the Vakinankaratra region, with a population of over 180,000. In Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool ...

Antsiranana

Antsiranana
Antsiranana , named Diego-Suarez prior to 1975, is a city in the far north of Madagascar. Antsiranana is the capital of Diana Region. Transport Antsiranana is ...

Vatomandry

Vatomandry
Vatomandry is a city in and the administrative center of the Vatomandry District, Atsinanana Region, Madagascar.Located on the coast, the town's name means "Sleeping Rocks," derived from two black rocks ...

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
IntroductionAndasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 155 square kilometre protected area, located about 150 km east of Antananarivo, consisting principally of primary growth forest in Alaotra-Mangoro Region in ...

Morondava

Morondava
Morondava is a city located in Menabe Region, of which it is the capital, in Madagascar. It is located in the delta of the Morandava River at .

Toliara

Toliara
Toliara is a city in Madagascar.It is the capital of the Atsimo-Andrefana region, located 936 km south-west 'of Antananarivo.The current spelling of the name was adopted in the 1970s, and reflects ...

Mahajanga

Mahajanga
Mahajanga is a city and a district on the northwest coast of Madagascar.Mahajanga is a favorite tourist destination for Malagasy tourists and international travelers, with beautiful beaches, a coconut-lined boardwalk ...

Fianarantsoa

Fianarantsoa
Fianarantsoa is a city in south central Madagascar.Fianarantsoa is the capital of Haute Matsiatra Region. It was built in the early 19th century by the Merina as the administrative capital ...

Ambanja

Ambanja
Ambanja is a city and commune in northern Madagascar. According to 2001 census the population of Ambanja was 28,468.GeographyAmbanja is located on the northern berth of the ...

Mantasoa

Mantasoa
Mantasoa is a town and commune in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Manjakandriana, which is a part of Analamanga Region. The population of the commune was estimated to ...

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a national park located in Melaky Region, Madagascar. The national park centers on two geological formations: the Great Tsingy and the Little Tsingy. ...

Andoany

Andoany
Andoany, formerly and more commonly known as Hell-Ville , is a city in Diana Region, Madagascar with a population of 30,000. It lies on the island of Nosy Be, of ...

Nosy Komba

Nosy Komba
Nosy Komba is a volcanic island off the north west coast of Madagascar, laying between Nosy Be and the main island. It is a popular tourist destination. ...

Analamazaotra Special Reserve

Analamazaotra Special Reserve
Analamazaotra Special Reserve is a wildlife reserve of Madagascar, and is part of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. The reserve is toward the northeast portion of the island, and is nearly centered ...

Île Sainte-Marie

Île Sainte-Marie
Île Sainte-Marie, known as Nosy Boraha , is an island, physically off the east coast of Madagascar, and is integral to it. The main town is Ambodifotatra. The city covers ...

Antananarivo

Antananarivo
Antananarivo, formerly French Tananarive, also known by its French colonial shorthand form Tana, is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. ...

Menabe

Menabe
Menabe is a region in western Madagascar, with capital Morondava. The population mostly belongs to the Sakalava ethnic group. The region is named after the 18th-century Sakalava Kingdom of Menabe ...

Sacré coeur

Sacré coeur
Sacré Cœur is French for Sacred Heart. It may refer to:PlacesSacré-Coeur, Quebec, a municipality in CanadaSacré-Cœur-de-Crabtree, now known as Crabtree, Quebec, a municipality in CanadaSacré-Cœur-de-Jésus, Quebec, a ...