Madagascar in the Indian Ocean – The Red Island

Madagascar is a large island on the east coast of Africa. It has different climates, two seasons and the flora and fauna is unique. The island is not very touristy yet, but there is a lot to see and enjoy. Madagascar is an island that is an independent country. It is known for its many species of lemurs, prosimians and the color of the sand. That is red and that is why Madagascar is ‘the red island.’ The island is known to cartoon fans because of the 2005 film Madagascar.

The red island

  • Madagascar The Red Island
  • France and Merina
  • climate
  • Indian Ocean
  • Monkey bread trees
  • Culture
  • The movie Madagascar


Madagascar The Red Island

Madagascar is an island country with a turbulent history. The capital is Antananarivo.
In 2018, the island had just over 25 million inhabitants, on an area of 587,040 km2. This means that there are just over 30 inhabitants per km2. It is more than 14 times the size of the Netherlands. Madagascar is also called The Red Island , after the color of the sand on the bottom. Madagascar was probably uninhabited until the arrival of Indonesian navigators in the first century AD. From that time on, the island was discovered by many migrants from Southeast Asia, who settled there. Africans and Arabs also came to live there.


That history can be heard in the language spoken there, Malagasy. It is a language related to Malay-Polynesian, which also contains many words from African languages. The largest ethnic group of residents are the Merina. They had virtually the entire island under their control by the end of the 18th century.

France and Merina

France was the first European country to settle in Madagascar in 1643. The island was used by the French as a trading port to the east. Malagasies were also used as slaves in the colonization of Réunion and Mauritius. France forcibly ended Merina rule at the end of the 19th century. Since then, a total colonial government and French education system was established.


A violent uprising followed in 1946 and the French subsequently banned the nationalist party Mouvement Démocratique de la Rénovation Malgache (MDRM). It was not until 1958 that much of the power was transferred to the largest party, the Parti Social Démocrate (PSD), and in 1960 Madagascar became an independent country. This was followed by years of uprisings, reforms, crises, democratization and elections.


Madagascar is blessed with a wide variety of climate types and the accompanying impressive nature:

  • rainforest;
  • to put away;
  • steppes.

Lemur / Source: Joenomias, PixabayChameleon / Source: Mountain viper, PixabayMoon moth / Source: SHAWSHANK61, Pixabay


Madagascar also has large differences in the amount of precipitation that falls. The location and ridge on the island are to blame for this. Most of the rain falls on the eastern side, the northeast and the northern tip of Madagascar.
There are different climates:

  • tropical rainforest climate;
  • tropical monsoon climate;
  • tropical savannah climate;
  • subtropical climate;
  • steppe climate;
  • desert climate.

What is special about Madagascar is that it has not four, but two seasons, a wet and a dry season.

Indian Ocean

The island is remote in the Indian Ocean, 400 km from Mozambique. It was created more than 100 million years ago by the erosion of the large African-Asian continent of Gondwana. The flora, fauna and culture on the island have been able to develop in a unique way. Much has remained the same in Madagascar. No new species emerged, but existing species continued to develop here, so that almost 90% of the flora and fauna is now unique to Madagascar and only occurs there.

Monkey bread trees

The island has white sandy beaches and plenty of water sports options. In a gorge among the greenery lies a beautiful natural swimming pool, the piscine . Madagascar is not very touristy yet and that makes a trip extra special. From July to mid-September you can spot whales and take a whale watching tour. The whales then swim along the coast.
The best diving locations are in the north of the island. The island has many highlights, especially in terms of flora and fauna:

  • Dozens of species of lemurs, prosimians;
  • chameleons;
  • rare orchids;
  • frogs;
  • ferret cats;
  • butterflies;
  • baobab, monkey bread trees.

Source: Evelyn Lim, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)


And the culture? That one is just as special. It is a mixture of African and Asian influences. There are more than 18 tribes, of which the Merina tribe is the largest.

The movie Madagascar

Madagascar is an animated comedy about four zoo animals who get stranded on the island and have to save themselves. It is a film full of jokes and jokes about animals that end up on the island from New York. The film is from DreamWorks, the company that also made Shrek.

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